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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: "Shnei bnei Aharon" - Two sons of Aharon - The Toras Kohanim 1:32 lists among the reasons for the death of Nodov and Avihu that they did not take counsel from each other before embarking upon bringing fire for the incense. Other reasons are well understood, such as their not taking counsel from their father, but their not taking counsel one from the other seems illogical. Each one of them posited that this was the correct thing to do. How could their asking each other have brought about a different conclusion? We can derive from this medrash how terribly biased a person is towards his own leanings and thoughts. Each of these brothers justified his intended actions. However, had one asked the other, he would have given the matter a sober unbiased assessment. This would have brought him to the correct conclusion that the act was improper. Once he would reach this conclusion he would then realize that he himself was planning to do the same, and would now refrain from acting improperly. (Rabbi Yoseif Dov haLevi Brisker of Yerusholayim)

Ch. 16, v. 3: "B'zose yovo Aharon" - With this Aharon shall come - Rashi (M.R. 21:9) says that the numerical value of "B'zose" is 410, to allude to the first Beis Hamikdosh, which would stand for 410 years. Aharon and his descendants would come to the first Sanctuary for 410 years. Why is only the first Beis Hamikdosh alluded to here? We have other numerical allusions to the Beis Hamikdosh where both are included, for example, in Shmos 38:21, "Ei'leh f'ku'dei HAMISHKON MISHKAN," from which we derive an allusion to the second Beis Hamikdosh. "Hamishkon" has the numerical value of 415, and by adding the number of letters of this word we arrive at 420, the number of years that it stood. "Mishkan" has the numerical value of 410, the number of years that the first Beis Hamikdosh stood. As well, just last week an insight of the Niflo'ose Chadoshos on 15:31 was offered, which included both Bo'tei Mikdosh.

The Biu'rei Mahara"i answers that since our verse continues with the words "yovo el hakodesh," he will come to the holy object, meaning the Holy Ark, our verse justifiably only alludes to the first Beis Hamikdosh. The second Beis Hamikdosh did not have the Holy Ark, as per the mishnoh Yoma 53b, thus Aharon's descendants would not come to the "kodesh" in the second Beis Hamikdosh.

Ch. 16, v. 8: "Gorol echod laShem v'gorol echod laAzo'zeil" - One lot for Hashem and one lot for the Azo'zeil - The animal that was slaughtered and processed in the Mikdosh and whose body was later burned, atones for sins that deserve either beheading, "hereg," or death by molten lead, "s'reifoh," as these two acts are done to the goat that was "laShem." The animal that was pushed off a precipice atones for sins that deserve either being pushed from a height, "skiloh," or strangulation, "chenek," as these two acts are done to the goat that was "laAzo'zeil." This explains why the "Azo'zeil" goat could not be processed in the Mikdosh.

Why is this goat taken off the Mikdosh grounds? If we arranged that it be killed by falling from a height onto a sharp surface on the Mikdosh campus, we would have a "n'veiloh" carcass at the Mikdosh. This is not permitted because of "tumoh," impurity. (Rabbi Saadioh Gaon)

Ch. 16, v. 8: "LaAzo'zeil" - To the Azo'zeil - What is the exact translation of Azo'zeil?

1) A tall mountain that has sharp peaks (gemara Yoma 67b, Rashi on our verse)

2) A combination of the names Uza and Azo'eil, two angels who left the upper realms and descended to earth (see Breishis 6:2) - They behaved immorally. The "so'ir laAzo'zeil" brings atonement for immorality. (gemara Yoma 67b and Rashi)

3) A place where goats pasture (Rashbam) - Perhaps it is called Azo'zeil because it is a combination of "eiz," a goat, and "ozal," it has gone. However, in verse 10 the Rashbam himself says that the final letter Lamed is not intrinsic to this word. We are then left with Ayin-Zayin-Alef-Zayin. I have no idea what this word means.

4) The strong place of Keil, "izuz Keil" (Ibn Ezra in the name of the Gaon) However, the Levite Gaon disagrees, citing the letter Zayin appearing between the Alef and Lamed of Keil. It should have appeared right after the earlier Zayin.

5) The name of a mountain that is near Har Sinai (Another opinion mentioned by the Ibn Ezra) This opinion seems problematic, as this is quite a distance from the Beis Hamikdosh and from the mishnoh Yoma we see that the location is much closer. However, he also writes that from this mountain the goat is brought back to the Beis Hamikdosh and from there brought to another mountain. The mishnoh might be discussing the trip to the second mountain. All of this is very unusual, as the mishnoh and gemara do not mention two trips. As well, if this is the name of a mountain, there should be no definitive "pasach" under the letter Lamed at the beginning of this word, as its name alone serves as a definite noun.

6) "This word appears in other places in the Torah. I will expose part of its secret to you through a hint. When you will be 33 you will understand it." (Ibn Ezra) This is one of the most enigmatic comments the Ibn Ezra offers in the entire Torah. Some explain these words to refer to Breishis 31:47. The verse relates that stones were piled up to form a hill and Yaakov called it "gal'eid," a combination of two words, "gal," a hill, and "eid," testimony. Perhaps the Ibn Ezra's intention in his words "thirty-three" is a hint to "gal," whose numerical value is 33. Just as "gal'eid" is a combination of two words, so too, "Azo'zeil" might simply be a combination of "eiz" and "ozal," a goat went, referring to the walking of the goat from the Beis Hamikdosh to a precipice.

7) The name of a mountain (Rabbi Saadioh Gaon) Again we have the problem of a proper noun having a definitive "pasach" preceding it.

8) A hard place, as in the word "izuz" (T'hilim 24:8) (Ramban)

9) Sharp, condemning sins go away. (Footnote in Toras Chaim Chumash)

10) The name of a prosecuting angel - Hashem sent him down to earth and he himself sinned. This sealed the mouth of this prosecuting angel. (Imrei Noam)

11) A name for the powers of evil (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

12) A name for the forces of nature (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)

Ch. 16, v. 10: "L'shalach oso laAzo'zeil hamodboroh" - To send it to the Azo'zeil to the desert - Contrast this with the service of burning the incense in the Holy of Holies, a scant 2 verses later. The A'zo'zeil offering is done outside the Mikdosh compound, a unique service. It is so unusual that the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh writes that had the Torah not specifically given a directive to do this is would cross the threshold of idol worship! While this is the only instance of a sacrifice offered outside the Mikdosh compound (Do not say that this is not a sacrificial offering, as we find the gemara Yoma 64a state that pushing it over the precipice is akin to slaughtering it, "d'chiyoso lotzuk heinu sh'chitoso." I have since found that this point is a dispute between Rabbi Shmuel and the Ibn Ezra at the end of his words on verse 8.), we find the other extreme, the incense being burnt in the Holy of Holies, again the only offering done in the holiest location in the world. What is embodied in these totally contrary services, one in a vast wasteland and the other in the Holy of Holies, both on Yom Kippur?

Perhaps this is symbolic of the extreme atonement we want to effect on this holiest of days. Sins have unfortunately accumulated since the previous motzo'ei Y.K. and are at their maximum on the following Y.K. We want to erase them all in one go on Y.K. This extreme, to bring us from a most sullied state to having a squeaky clean slate, is similar to the contrast between the desolate harsh desert, a place where the "goats of the evil powers dance" (see Ramban on this verse), and the Holy of Holies. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 16, v. 21: "V'somach Aharon es shtei yodov" - And Aharon should lean with his two hands - The word "yodov" has a "ksiv," a written form, of "yodo," and a "kri;" it is read "yodov."

"Yodov" means "his handS," and flows with the word "shtei," while "yodo" means "his hand," singular, and does not flow with the word "shtei." This is an allusion to the ruling of the Rambam in hilchos tefiloh 5:4, that when one prays to Hashem he should have his right hand folded over his left hand in submission, similar to how a slave beseeching his master. When praying one positions his two hands as if they are one. (Biu'rei Mahara"i)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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