Rabbi Robinson’s Sermon April 5, 2024

Parashat Shemini: Blessings Plaut p. 708

Source Sheet by Yair Robinson


Leviticus 9:22-24

(22) Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he stepped down after offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the offering of well-being. (23) Moses and Aaron then went inside the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the Presence of יהוה appeared to all the people. (24) Fire came forth from before יהוה and consumed the burnt offering and the fat parts on the altar. And all the people saw, and shouted, and fell on their faces.


ויקרא ט׳:כ״בכ״ד

(כב) וַיִּשָּׂ֨א אַהֲרֹ֧ן אֶת־יָדָ֛ו אֶל־הָעָ֖ם וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑ם וַיֵּ֗רֶד מֵעֲשֹׂ֧ת הַֽחַטָּ֛את וְהָעֹלָ֖ה וְהַשְּׁלָמִֽים׃ (כג) וַיָּבֹ֨א מֹשֶׁ֤ה וְאַהֲרֹן֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד וַיֵּ֣צְא֔וּ וַֽיְבָרְכ֖וּ אֶת־הָעָ֑ם וַיֵּרָ֥א כְבוֹד־יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־כׇּל־הָעָֽם׃ (כד) וַתֵּ֤צֵא אֵשׁ֙ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י יְהֹוָ֔ה וַתֹּ֙אכַל֙ עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֔חַ אֶת־הָעֹלָ֖ה וְאֶת־הַחֲלָבִ֑ים וַיַּ֤רְא כׇּל־הָעָם֙ וַיָּרֹ֔נּוּ וַֽיִּפְּל֖וּ עַל־פְּנֵיהֶֽם׃


There once was a musician, well-known for the great beauty of her music, who came to play before the king. There was one particular melody that was so loved by the king that he ordered the musician to play it for him several times a day, every day.

After a time, however, the musician began to weary of the tune; after playing it every day for weeks and even months, she no longer could play it with the same passion and excitement as before. She tried to play other melodies, other tunes, but the king always wanted the one special melody. She would pretend to be sick, or that she forgot the music, all to get out of playing the king’s favorite song.

Finally, the king went and spoke to the musician, and understood her weariness. What was he to do? He loved to hear her play that melody, but she was clearly bored with what she was doing. After thinking about it, he came up with a plan. The next time the musician came to play, she saw the king there with his court, as usual, but also a new member of the audience. For the king sent for people to be brought from the market who had never heard the tune before. Seeing someone new, someone who had never heard the melody before, renewed the musician, and she played the tune in all its beauty, like it was the first time.

Remember the first time you learned a prayer, or the first time you fulfilled a particular mitzvah? Remember the feelings you had in that moment? In Shmini we are taught the blessing through which we are connected with God. The words don’t change, our mitzvot, our sacred obligations, don’t change, but we do. May we experience our blessings and our obligations with the same joy, so every time we act for the betterment of others, every time we recite our prayers, it feels like the first time.