This issue is sponsored
Vol. 19 No. 34
Elsie bas Henry z"l
Aharon ben Shlomo z"l
Devorah bas Moshe z"l
Carrying It on their Shoulders
(Adapted from the Ha'amek Davar)
"But to the sons of K'has he did not give (oxen & wagons); for the sacred service is upon them; (therefore) on their shoulders they shall carry" (7:9).
Commenting on the word 'upon them' (which is otherwise superfluous), the Ha'amek Davar of-fers two ways of explaining its insertion (i.e. what it comes to preclude):
1. It is only when the sons of K'has (with ref-erence specifically to the Levi'im of that tribe) carry the Aron that it needs to be carried on the shoulders. Anybody else - even Kohanim are permitted to carry the holy vessels on a wagon (despite the fact that they too, are descendents of K'has).
2. That only the sons of K'has (Kohanim in-cluded) are permitted to carry the Aron, and no-body else.
Granted, says the author, the Rambam rules that only the Kohanim are permitted to carry the Aron (and not all the B'nei K'has). However, that is only when there are Kohanim available to do so! Otherwise, all the sons of K'has are eligible to carry it.
Others explain that it was during the forty years in the desert (when there was a dearth of Kohanim), that the B'nei K'has, who were Levi'im, were permitted to carry it. From the moment they crossed the River Yarden in the for-tieth year, the Mitzvah was handed over to the Kohanim exclusively.
When David ha'Melech arranged for the Aron to be transported on a wagon, he did not forget the Halachah, as appears at first sight. His mistake lay in the fact that he learned the former of the two explanations. Consequently, he figured that, since it was not the B'nei K'has who were carrying the Aron, but Uza and Achyo, who were Kohanim, it was fully permitted to transport the Aron on a wagon.
And it was only the tragedy of the death of Uza that he realized his mistake, inasmuch as it was the second of the two above explanations that was the correct one, and that the Aron had always to be carried on the shoulders, irrespective of who carried it.
Elaborating on the above, the Harchev Davar cites the Gemara in Sotah (35), which in turn, cites Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu: 'The Pasuk in Mishlei teaches us that Torah needs hard work to under-stand it well, and you say "Your statutes were mu-sic to me!"? By your life, you will err with regard to a Pasuk that even the little children interpret correctly!'
For it is obvious that the reasoning behind the Mitzvah of carrying the Aron on the shoulders is a matter of Kavod for the Holy Ark, and therefore it is the latter interpretation of the Pasuk which is the correct one. Consequently, it must be carried in this way, irrespective of who is carrying it.
Had David ha'Melech not referred to Torah-study in such a derogatory manner, he would have arrived at the same conclusion as the children and would not have erred.
* * *
The Sotah's Reward
"And if the woman was not defiled … then she will be declared innocent and will bear a child" (5:28).
The question arises that the Sotah was guilty of transgressing the prohibition of Yichud (secluding herself with another man and of disregarding her husband's warning by doing so).
Why then, does the Torah see fit to recompense her for the well-deserved ordeal that she suffered?
The answer is twofold:
Firstly, because that ordeal was based on the suspicion that she was guilty of having committed adultery. That suspicion now turned out to be false, and Chazal have said that someone who suspects a person of sinning is obligated to give him a B'rachah. Here too, the Torah suspects a Sotah of having committed adultery; should the suspicion turn out to be false, it is duty-bound to confer upon her a B'rachah.
Secondly, a Sotah is subjected to no small meas-ure of humiliation at the hand of the Kohanim, as prescribed by the Torah. She was, furthermore, em-barrassed in public, and embarrassment atones for one's sins.
A good example of the atoning power of embar-rassment is King Shaul, who was informed by Shmuel ha'Navi (whom the witch of Ein Dor had conjured up) that the following day, he would join him in Gan Eden, in spite of his having killed all the inhabitants of Nov, the city of Kohanim. And the reason for this was because he expressed shame for having done so.
The Mishnah in Sotah also explains that, when the elders would fast and pray for rain, the people would place ashes on their heads (as opposed to the elders placing the ashes on their own heads) because one cannot compare shame and embarrassment that is self-inflicted to the shame and embarrassment that one suffers at the hand of others - and the Sotah was humiliated by the Kohanim who dealt with her.
The Three Mitzvos of a Nazir
The Torah issues a Nazir three prohibitions: Not to render himself Tamei Meis (by touching a corpse or being under the same roof as it), not to drink wine and not to cut his hair.
It seems to me that these three Mitzvos represent the three things that take a person out of this world: envy, lust and vanity (Pirkei Avos 4:21).
Contact with a dead person, envy - as the Pasuk writes in Mishlei (14:30) " … but envy brings about rotting of the bones".
Drinking wine, lus -- as is self-understood.
Cutting one's hair - as Chazal explain regarding the atonement of the Bigdei Kohen Gadol, that the hat/turban atones for vanity, based on its mere loca-tion.
"And the one to bring his sacrifice on the first day was Nachshon ben Aminadav of the tribe of Yehudah …" (7:12).
The tribe of Yehudah, Rabeinu Bachye points out, was first in all matters - they were the first by the flags, by the inauguration of the Mishkan, by going into battle, by inheriting the Land, and when it comes to the final redemption, Yehudah will be the first to be redeemed (See Zecharyah 12:7).
That explains, says the author, why a.) the Torah begins the paragraph dealing with Yehudah with a 'Vav' (which has connotations of being secondary), and b). it omits the word "Nasi" (Prince) (which appears by every other tribe) from that of Yehudah - to convey the impression that he was secondary. This served to bring Nachshon down a peg and to stop the Kavod of being first from going to his head.
* * *
THE PROHIBITION OF EATING GRAPES, RAISINS,
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch, Mitzvah 369-372)
Citing the Yerushalmi, the Seifer ha'Chinuch explains that from the Pasuk "and wet … grapes he (the Nazir) shall not eat, we learn, not only the prohibition, on a Nazir not to eat grapes, but also, grapes that are not yet ripe.
Nor may he eat raisins (even though they have changed their name) pips or grape-skin, since the Torah adds there "or dry grapes" and "or pips or skin".
The reason why the Torah incorporates all of these in the prohibition is because each of them have the power to increase a person's desire to sin (thereby negating the Nazir's sanctity).
The Rambam rules that each of the above items is an independent La'av, as is evident from the Mishnah in Nazir (6:2), and as the Gemara there (38b) specifically writes - 'A Nazir who eats grapes and raisins, pips and skin, and who squeezes out a bunch of grapes and drinks it, is subject to five sets of Malkos. In fact, the Gemara adds, he is subject to six, seeing as he also transgressed the La'av of "Lo Yachel" (not to negate one's Neder). The Gemara deliberately omits the La'av of not drinking vinegar, the author points out, since vinegar is forbidden because it is considered wine, and the Torah inserts it to teach us that the Isur of wine does not fall away, even though the wine is now spoilt.
It is also important to know that all the above items will combine to form the Shi'ur k'Zayis (the size of an olive), which will render him subject to Malkos.
* * *