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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 16, v. 1: "Acha'rei mose shnei bnei Aharon" - After the death of the two sons of Aharon - The gemara Yerushalmi Yoma chapter #1 says that the service of Yom Kippur is prefaced by the death of the two sons of Aharon to teach us that just as the service of Yom Kippur brings atonement, so does the death of the righteous.

The gemara Ksubos 103 says that on the day of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi a voice came from heaven and announced that whoever was present at his funeral is prepared for a position in "olom habo." What was unique about the death of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi more than the death of any other Tanna? As well, what is meant by WHOEVER was present?

Based on the words of the gemara Yerushalmi just cited this is very well understood. The death of the righteous brings atonement, but it is limited to the level of atonement on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is not a freebie. It must be accompanied by repentance. However, it is the opinion of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi (gemara Yoma 85) that for some sins Yom Kippur affords atonement even without repentance. It is therefore befitting for his death, which is equated with Yom Kippur, to afford atonement consistent with his opinion that it brings atonement to EVERYONE, meaning not just those who repented at his funeral. (Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, Kovner Rov)

Ch. 16, v. 4: "K'so'nes bad kodesh yilbosh" - A tunic of linen shall he don - The four garments that the Kohein Godol wears when he enters into the Holy of Holies contain no gold. The gemara R.H. 26a says that this is because gold was the material used for the golden calf and we do not want to have him use a material that is a prosecutor when he seeks to evoke defence and atonement for his nation. This is most unusual because on this same day of Yom Kippur he does numerous services outside the Holy of Holies when dressed in garments that do contain gold.

Raabi Zalman Sorotzkin in Oznayim laTorah explains that when he is in the outer areas there are others there who see him. There we would apply a reverse attitude, that the prosecuting material, the gold, should be prominently displayed to evoke feelings of repentance. It is only when he is in the Holy of Holies, totally alone, where there is no form of admonishing people that he should not wear gold, as in his activities that are between him and Hashem only, this is not in place. He is there to plead for the good of the bnei Yisroel without mention of their shortcomings. This gives us a good understanding of why "Ein ka'teigor naa'seh sneigor" applies only to service that takes place in the Holy of Holies.

Ch. 17, v. 13: "Chayoh o ofe" - An animal or a bird - Why were undomesticated animals and birds singled out to have their blood covered with earth when they are slaughtered? When Eliezer brought Rivkoh to Yitzchok, on the way back Rivkoh fell off the camel and here virginity was accidentally compromised. After their marriage Yitzchok took notice of this and suspected that Eliezer had caused it. Eliezer denied this and Yitzchok responded that if Eliezer was innocent he should merit to enter Gan Eden. Eliezer answered "omein," and brought him to the place where Rivkoh fell. Normally the blood should have dissipated (rain) or some animals that drink blood would have drank it. However, kosher species of animals of the forest kept other animals away and birds hovered overhead to keep the blood intact there. For this undomesticated animals and birds merit having an extra mitzvoh connected to their ritual slaughter. (Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel)

Birds merit having the mitzvoh of covering their blood connected to their slaughter because birds taught Kayin to bury Hevel. (Kol Bo)

Domesticated kosher animals are slaughtered and their blood is placed on the wall of the altar. This very spiritual function elevates the species and we don't have to do an extra act of covering its blood with earth, an act indicating extreme separation. An undomesticated animal is not offered as a sacrifice, and although some birds are, their processing as a sacrifice has "m'likoh" rather than "sh'chitoh." Lacking this sort of elevation for these species gives rise to the negative forces to complain that a person is a living being, but so are birds and undomesticated animals. We therefore cover their blood with earth to symbolically hide the act of their being slaughtered. (Rokei'ach)

The Ramban and Chinuch do not differentiate between "m'likoh" and "sh'chitoh" and simply say that among all the kosher species of birds a very small minority is offered as a sacrifice, while the majority of domesticated kosher species are. Birds and undomesticated animals live in the wild. There was a prevalent ideology that those who live in the wild have a spirit connected to their essence and when coming to consume them it is important to display a lot of blood to appease that spirit. The Torah therefore tells us that specifically with these creatures we have the responsibility to have their blood covered by earth. There is a requirement to do this in a very effective manner, with earth both below and above the blood. (Minchoh V'luloh)

If one leaves the blood of a species of domesticated animal that may be offered on the altar expose, no one will think that it was slaughtered for a false god, as this species is offered to Hashem. However, species that are never sacrificed for Hashem fall under this concern. We therefore cover their blood with earth. (Ibn Ezra)

Usually birds and undomesticated animals are slaughtered in the wild, areas where negative spiritual powers reside. The presence of large amounts of blood brings them to the site of the blood. To discourage this from happening we cover the blood with earth. (Sforono)


Ch. 19, v. 3: "V'es Shabsosai tishmoru" - And My Shabbosos shall you safeguard - Shabbos is expressed in the plural in our verse because it refers not only to the weekly Shabbos, but also to the seventh year, "shmitoh," and also to the release of debts at the end of the "shmitoh" year, all concepts of desisting and releasing, which are testimonials to Hashem's creation of the world. (Sforno)

Ch. 19, v. 4: "Al tifnu el ho'elilim" - Do not turn to the false gods - This exhortation is not limited to not believing in them, etc. This also teaches us that we should not have windows in our "botei kneisios" and homes face their houses of worship, "Do not turn your FACE to elilim." (Sefer Chasidim #431)

Ch. 19, v. 4: "Veilohei ma'seichoh lo saasu lochem" - And cast gods shall you not make for yourselves - Not only are we prohibited from creating these forms when we believe in them as deities, but even if we realize that they are meaningless, we are prohibited to make them for the purpose of simply receiving payment as craftsmen, "lo saasu LOCHEM," for your benefit. (Rabbeinu Bachyei, Ralbag)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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