This week’s parsha, Shmini, is quite well known for two of its topics, the death of Nadav and Avihu, who were two of Aaron’s sons, and Hashem introducing the commandments of the kosher laws, identifying the animal species permissible and forbidden for consumption. I want to focus on a slightly lesser discussed aspect of the parsha, that of roles and partnerships.
A the beginning of the parsha, on the eighth day, following the seven days of the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, Aaron and his sons begin to officiate as kohanim (priests); Moshe who up until this point had been alone in doing the work in the Mishkan as well as leading and teaching the Torah to the nation, passes the torch to his brother Aaron, who, along with his sons, now take on the task of the offering of all the sacrifices. At the midway point of the parsha, Moshe becomes aware that one of the korbanot, one of the sin offerings had been burnt, rather than eaten, as he understood Hashem had instructed. When Moshe passionately expresses his displeasure and concern to his brother, believing that he was incorrect in carrying out one of God’s commands, Aaron explains his reasoning for ordering the burning of that particular offering, and Moses humbly accepts Aaron’s explanation.
To be successful at leading the Jewish people, Moshe knew that he could not do it alone. He was lucky to have his brother at his side to assume the role of kohen, and each was able to focus on their distinct roles – Moshe as leader and teacher of the Torah, Aaron as High Priest and national peace maker (ohev shalom, rodeyf shalom). Even if they were relatively separate and independent in their spheres of activity, they would have disagreements, but figured out how to really hear each others perspective. It was a great partnership built on a common goal, family, and mutual respect that endured for the sake of the Jewish people.
It’s really the same thing in a school like ours. Home and school, teachers and administration, each has an important role to assume and specific responsibilities to fulfill, and while the methods and the approach may differ, we all rally around a common cause, which is the education and moral development of the whole child. And we know that to do this, we need each other, and that no one can really go it alone. That is a true partnership.
One last note about partnerships. It is a true blessing for a school like RJDS to be able to work so well with its partners in Richmond, and I want to share one such example – our student choir performed again yesterday for the Chabad of Richmond seniors group at their monthly lunch. It is an amazing experience to watch the students bring so much joy and energy to the seniors, and they in turn shower the students with so much love. While our parent volunteers have always been terrific at shuttling the students to and from Chabad, coordinating drivers can be tricky for a choir that numbers over 20 students. Enter the Kehila Society of Richmond, with whom we have been partnering on a number of programs (including today’s Kabbalat Shabbat, Bring in ‘da Shabbos, bring in ‘da funk), and they offered their seniors bus to help bring our students to and from seniors programs in Richmond. This fantastic opportunity now allows us to plan more frequent intergenerational programs with less impact on class time. So there you have it. By everyone doing their part, and meeting their organizational goals, and learning how to partner with each other, all of our offerings are higher, all of our programming sweeter.
Shabbat Shaolom u’Mevorach.