The parsha of Shemini represents the climax of the long narrative begun in Exodus 25 with the command to construct the Sanctuary. It celebrates the day its service officially began, a momentous day for Bnei Yisrael.

But what should have been a joyous occasion turns into tragedy when two of Aaron’s sons die after having brought “strange fire.” The Torah is ambiguous on what precisely transpires, but the tragic nature of the occurrence is clearly felt.

Shemini continues with an account of the dietary laws, specifically what animals, fish, and birds may be eaten under the laws of Kashrut.