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My first-cousin, Rabbi Yakov Nagen (Genack), points out in one of his sefarim that it’s axiomatic that the parsha relates to current events. Who cannot be awe-struck by the fact that parsha Shemini marks the first Shabbos after Reb Chaim zt”l’s petirah.

Shemini alludes to eight, a number above nature. It is logical that on the eighth day the Mishkan was inaugurated for the Mishkan was above nature as well. And the day of completion was the first of Nissan, a month above nature and symbolic of the geulah.

Reb Chaim zt”l was known to say that Moshiach is on the doorstep.

Two anecdotes that I read really point to the genius and humility of Reb Chaim zt”l.

In the area of genius, Joe Berger, from the New York Times, reported, Reb Chaim zt”l was asked how many times the word Moshe appeared in the Bible and he said 97. The computer tabulated 99. Reb Chaim zt”l explained that those other two words of Moshe are spelled the same but have different meanings and are pronouced differently (One is the word "mi'seh" in the context of the Passover offering, but its Hebrew spelling is the same three letters of Moshe).. Reb Chaim zt”l’s level of proficiency and genius was unmatched.

In the area of humility, one needs only hear this story. One of Reb Chaim zt”l’s students came to him to ask whether a certain girl should have an arm surgery which the doctors ruled out as having any possibility of success. Reb Chaim zt”l told the student she should do it. The surgery was a success. The student then asked if he could publicize Reb Chaim zt”l’s recommendation along with a bracha from Reb Chaim zt”l. In Talmudic form, Reb Chaim zt”l acceded, saying that the blessing of a “layman” also has merit. The man of genius saw himself as a layman.

How do we fill the vacuum? Perhaps the parsha gives a hint. The first part of the parsha deals with kohanic service. The second part with kashrus and the last part discusses purity and impurity. One can instantly ask – how can the kohanic experience relate to kashrut that applies to Bnei Yisroel across the board? Again, my first-cousin, Rabbi Yakov Nagen (Genack), in one of his sefarim notes that Bnei Yisroel are kohanim as well: we are a mamlechet kohanim. Therefore, kohanic service and all of our interactions with the world, such as kashrus, are comparable. And indeed, one can reach a state of purity and impurity in the realm of full spiritual kohanic service and regular interactions with the mitzvot.

There’s no question Reb Chaim zt”l was an angel above nature, all spiritual like a kohen, but we as a nation have the responsibility to continue our work as a mamlechet kohanim which speaks to G-d in a profound way.