Summary of The Weekly Torah Reading:
Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section
is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person
"goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.
1st & 2nd Aliyot: The Parsha begins on Nissan 1, 2449. The seven-day
inauguration of Aharon and his sons was completed and the ceremonies for the
Mizbeach's consecration had begun. Over 40 offerings would be brought on that
first day, each requiring the direct ministrations of Aharon. Aharon blessed
the nation with the standard priestly blessing after which Moshe and Aharon
blessed the nation with the special Bracha of Psalm 90.
3rd Aliya: The deaths of Nadav and Avihu are recorded at the very same time that fire descended from heaven to light the Mizbeach. Their cousins removed the bodies of Nadav and Avihu from the courtyard of the Mishkan. Moshe
instructs Aharon and his two remaining sons, Elazar and Isamar, that they are
forbidden to overtly mourn the deaths of Nadav and Avihu in the standard
manner. It is from here that we are taught the standard practices of tearing
Kriyah and of mourners not cutting their hair.
4th & 5th Aliyot: Moshe instructs Aharon and his sons to continue the service
of the Mizbeach's consecration. The first recorded difference in Halachik
rulings is recorded between Moshe and Aharon as it pertained to the eating of
the Rosh Chodesh offering. (Note 16-20, Stone Edition ArtScroll pg. 595)
The basic laws of Kosher and non-Kosher animals, fish, and fowl
are recorded. Note that verses 11:4-7 is one of the established proofs for
the divine authorship of the Torah.
7th Aliya: The basic laws of purity and impurity are recorded. It is important to clarify that the Torah does not associate "Tummah" impurity and "Taharah" purity with good and bad. The entire process involves the
concept of life and death and the symbolic emphasis that the Torah places on
serving G-d with optimism and vigor. So long as there is life there is the
opportunity to grow in our relationship with G-d.
The question of "Why are we commanded to keep Kosher?" is answered in
11:44-47. The Torah clearly states that the reason to keep Kosher is to
emulate G-d's sanctity. Sanctity "Kedusha" means being set apart and
different. Just as G-d is apart from all things and divine in every way, so
too are we to be set apart from all other nations and be different in the
manner of our eating.
Parsha Summary by Rabbi Aron Tendler