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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1: "L'nefesh lo yitamo" – A Kohein is prohibited to defile himself to a dead human body. The Tosfos on Bovo Metzia 114b d.h. "omar lei" asks, "How was Eliyohu permitted to resuscitate the son of the Ishoh haTzorfosis by coming into contact with him (M'lochim 1:17:21)? Since Eliyohu is a Kohein, he is prohibited to defile himself, as per our verse." Tosfos answers that he was CERTAIN that he would be successful in bringing the child back to life and was therefore permitted by virtue of the rules of "pikuach nefesh," saving one's life. (Technically he didn't save a life, but rather brought about the existence of a life, according to those who say that the child had expired. However, this is also permitted, as per commentators on gemara Shabbos 151b and Yoma 85b who derive from the words, "Tov she'y'chalel Shabbos achas k'dei she'yishmor Shabbosos harbei" that this too is permitted. Rabbi Eliezer Moshe Horovitz, Rov of Pinsk asks that even if Eliyohu wasn't certain, but even in DOUBT whether he would be successful, he should have been permitted to defile himself, as per the gemara Yoma 83a, that "sofik pikuach n'foshos docheh Shabbos."

He answers that the gemara Taanis 19a says that if a Jewish community becomes surrounded by enemies who want to attack, it is permitted to blow trumpets with a signal to outlying Jewish communities to come to their aid in battle even on Shabbos. Rabbi Yosi says that a blast to indicate that they should assemble in prayer for their welfare is not permitted. Rashi explains that this is not permitted, because to transgress the Rabbinical decree of sounding instruments is not cast aside for prayer, which might be ineffective. We see from here that although a call to arms might also not be successful, nonetheless the Rabbis only permitted pushing aside prohibitions for physical help in attempting to save lives, and not spiritual. A Kohein defiling himself to a dead body is even stricter than the Rabbinical prohibition. Therefore Tosfos says that Eliyohu had to be CERTAIN that his prayers would be successful, since his reviving the dead child was through prayer.

Along the same line: The responsa of the Divrei Yechezkel of Shinov has the following question raised: Is it permitted to send a telegram to a great tzadik on Shabbos, to advise him that someone is gravely ill, so that the tzadik will pray for his well-being? The Shinover Gaon answered that this is not permitted since it is a spiritual approach.

A subject relative to the above is if one may transgress a prohibition to attempt to save one's life through bringing it about by way of a supernatural manner, such as a "seguloh." The basis for this is a Mishneh Shabbos 67a.

Ch. 21, v. 2,3: "L'imo ul'oviv, yitamo." The regular Kohein defiles himself to the deceased body of his mother or father. In verse 11, where the prohibition of the Kohein Godol to defile himself to anyone, including his parents, is stated, the order is switched, "l'oviv ul'imo lo yitamo." The Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim explains that each verse logically follows the rule of "lo zu af zu," telling the more obvious first, and then going on to tell us the less obvious; not only this, but even that. Who one's mother is can be ascertained. Knowing who one's father is comes about by the rule of "chazokoh," an axiom of assumption (gemara Nozir 49a). In verses 2 and 3 where the Kohein is permitted to defile himself, the Torah says that he may do so not only through his mother who is surely his mother, but even through his father, whom we know is his father only through the strength of "chazokoh."

In verse 11, where the Kohein Godol is prohibited to defile himself, the verse says that not only to his father who is only ascertained by "chazokoh," but even to his mother, who no doubt is truly his mother, he may also not defile himself.

Ch. 21, v. 9: "Es ovihoh hi m'chaleles bo'eish tisoreif" – The gemara Makos 2a tells us that if witnesses are found guilty of lying in the manner called "hazomoh", the Torah mandates a reciprocal punishment. The gemara Sanhedrin 90a says that if witnesses were caught lying about the daughter of a Kohein having committed adultery, they do not receive the punishment of the Kohein's daughter, "sreifoh," but rather the punishment which would be meted out to the adulterer who has committed this sin, "chenek." This is derived from the word "l'ochiv" in Dvorim 19:19.

The Meshech Chochmoh explains that since the Torah stresses that when a Kohein's daughter commits this sin, it is not only a blemish upon her, but also a great disgrace for her father, once found innocent, the Torah does not want to reciprocate with the punishment for adultery which is administered uniquely to the daughter of a Kohein. The fanfare created by killing by way of "sreifoh," even if applied to the false witnesses, would advertise that the Kohein's daughter was accused of this terrible sin, and would undeservedly heap shame upon the Kohein. Therefore the false witnesses receive the punishment reserved for the man and not the woman.

Ch. 21, v. 11: "L'oviv u'l'imo lo yitamo" –
The Chinuch in mitzvoh #270 explains that a regular Kohein is permitted to defile himself to his seven close relatives. Although he is strongly connected to Hashem through many unique mitzvos and restrictions as a Kohein, nonetheless, he still has a social connection to his family. The Kohein Godol, however, is to separate himself totally from this physical world and from the normal social standards of mankind, and not have the familial connections that others have. This allows him to be mentally connected to Hashem and His service in an all-encompassing manner. Therefore, the Torah mandates that he not react with the normal mourning emotions and actions that others display. Hence he is prohibited to defile himself even to the closest of relatives.

Ch. 22, v. 27: "Shor o kesev o aze" - Why is an ox mentioned first of all the animals which are acceptable as a korbon? The Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim says that since the gentiles say the blemish of the golden calf is so potent, Hashem will never forgive the bnei Yisroel, Hashem placed the ox first among the korbonos to indicate that it can even be used as an instrument to help bring about atonement.

Ch. 22, v. 32: "V'nikdashti b'soch bnei Yisroel" – The mitzvoh of sanctifying Hashem's name is expressed in the reflexive (nifal) form. This indicates that not only are we responsible to sanctify Hashem with our actions, but to also see to it that Hashem is sanctified in any way possible. MVRHRH"G Rabbi Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l explained that this is the source for parents allowing the lives of their children to be forfeited, rather than allowing their children to be induced into avodoh zoroh. He adds that this is clearly indicated by the Rambam who says (hilchos yesodei haTorah 5:1), "All of BEIS YISROEL is commanded to sanctify Hashem's Holy Name." Nowhere else in the Rambam do we find the expression BEIS YISROEL to describe upon whom the mitzvoh is incumbent. This expression is used to indicate that children who are still minors are included, as we find the words BEIS YISROEL in T'hilim 115:12,13 referring to children; "Y'voreich es BEIS YISROEL, ……HAKTANIM im HAGDOLIM."

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Moa'dei Hashem" – These words appear after the words "Ani Hashem M'KADISH'CHEM" (22:32) to teach us that one must purify himself (by immersing in a mikveh) in honour of the upcoming Yom Tov (gemara Rosh Hashonoh 16b). (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 23, v. 2,3: "Moa'dei Hashem, Shabbas shabbosone" – Since this parsha says that it will list the Yomim Tovim, why is Shabbos mentioned? Possibly, without connecting to Hashem through Shabbos, which is uniquely a connection for the bnei Yisroel (see Gvuros Hashem ch. 45), one cannot connect with the Yomim Tovim. Shabbos is a prelude to the Yomim Tovim. Possibly this is the meaning of the words in z'miros Shabbos, "Rishon hu l'mikro'ei kodesh, yom Shabbosone," Shabbos must come before the "mikro'ei kodesh. We find that the word "rishon" means that which precedes, as explained by Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchok in the gemara P'sochim 5a, who proves this from a verse in Iyov (15:7).

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Asher tik'r'u OSOM" – OSOM is spelled defectively, without a letter Vov, allowing for it to be read ATEM. The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 25a derives from this that the Rabbinical courts decide when the new months begin, effectively creating the calendar dates, and they actually decide on which day the holidays take place. The gemara says that their rulings are binding even if they are mistaken in their calculations and are factually wrong; "ATEM afilu shog'gim afilu muto'im." The Sfas Emes says that since in Dvorim 14:1 it says "Bonim ATEM laShem Elokeichem," and it literally says ATEM and not OSOM, surely you are still Hashem's children, even if you sin and are "shog'gim or muto'im."

Ch. 23, v. 15: "Mimochoros HASHABBOS" – The gemara M'nochos 65b says that this means on the day after Pesach begins. The Torah calls Pesach Shabbos. This unusual term for Pesach gave the Tzidokim (a group which deviated from the Torah true path, named after their leader Tzodok) an opportunity to say that the omer is always brought after Shabbos, and Shvuos would always fall on a Sunday. The above gemara brings numerous refutations of their false interpretation.

Why indeed does the Torah use the term SHABBOS to mean Pesach? There are many beautiful answers given. Perhaps it can be explained with an insight into the words of the Rambam. In hilchos chometz u'matzoh 7:1 he says that from the words "Zochor es ha'yom ha'zeh asher y'tzo'sem miMitzrayim" (Shmos 13:3) we derive that it is a mitzvoh on the first night of Pesach to relate the miracles and exodus which took place on this night, similar to that which is written, "Zochor es yom haShabbos l'kadsho (Shmos 20:8)." What is the intention of the Rambam in equating Pesach to Shabbos because of the common word ZOCHOR found by both?

One can view the calendar anniversary of a Yom Tov as a commemoration of that which has taken place in the ancient past. However, regarding Pesach, we say in the Hagodoh, "Chayiv odom liros es atzmo k'ilu hu yotzo miMitzrayim," – It is incumbent upon a person to consider himself as one who has personally left Egypt. The Rambam's text in the Hagodoh is, "k'ilu hu yotzo ATTOH," - as if he has left NOW. This is not a commemorative vicarious experience, but rather it should be considered as our personal event. Shabbos is not a commemoration. It is our active testimony that Hashem made the world in six days and ceased from further creation on the seventh. This might be the intention of the Rambam in his comparison. Perhaps this is also the reason the Torah calls Pesach Shabbos, to teach us that the Pesach experience is to be viewed as our own occurrence.

Ch. 23, v. 27: "ACH be'osor" – ACH denotes limitation (see Rashi Eruvin 105a, P'sochim 5a, 71a). Other Yomim Tovim are honoured with holiday clothing and festive foods. On Yom Kippur, where eating and drinking are prohibited, honouring the Yom Tov is limited to wearing holiday clothing. (Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim)

Ch. 23, v. 32: "Shabbos shabbosone HU lochem" – In parshas Acharei Mose (16:31) it says "Shabbos shabbosone HI lochem." The Meshech Chochmoh says that our verse refers to the DAY (DAY being masculine) of Yom Kippur being a day of total rest, refraining from even doing "m'leches ocheil nefesh," just as Shabbos is called "Shabbos shabbosone" in numerous places (as in Shmos 16:23, 31:15, 35:2). The verse in Acharei Mose tells us that the "shvisa" (FEMININE), the refraining from activities, belongs to you. As explained by the Ra"n on the gemara Yoma 76a, the Torah requires more deprivation on Yom Kippur than just refraining from eating and drinking. Which deprivations these are, is given to the Rabbis to decide. This is expressed in the words "Shabbos shobbosone HI LOCHEM" that the decision of what is considered an appropriate "shvisoh," manner of refraining, is LOCHEM, is given into the hands of the Rabbis.

The Kli Yokor explains the double expression of "shvisoh" used for Yom Kippur. He says that Shabbos brings with itself a rest from the external activities of the body, namely creative work. It does not, however, contain a rest from the internal urges of a person, which are heightened by eating and drinking, which charge the blood and fat (dam v'cheilev). The prohibitions to eat or drink on Yom Kippur bring a second form of rest, that of the internal urges. This seems to explain why the double term is not used by Yomim Tovim, but Shabbos does have the double term in numerous places, as mentioned above, in spite of having no eating or drinking restrictions. The Kli Yokor might have to explain this by saying that Shabbos has a total restriction including carrying and "t'chumin," which some say does not apply to Yom Kippur. Any insights would be appreciated.

Ch 24, v. 12: "Lifrosh lohem al pi Hashem" – Rashi says that the incident of the blasphemous son of Shlomis bas Divri and that of Tz'lofchod took place in the same period of time. However, the two cases differed in that by Tz'lofchod the court knew that he was deserving of death, but not which of the four types of death administered by the court, as the verse says (Bmidbar 15:34), "ki lo forash mah yei'o'se lo." In contrast, by the blasphemer, they didn't even know if he was deserving of death (T.K. 24:237), as it says here, "lifrosh lohem."

We find the same words, "mah yei'o'se lo," by the incident of Moshe being cast into the "suf" where his sister Miriam stood at a distance to find out "mah yei'o'se lo." We can similarly interpret this to mean that she knew that he would definitely be saved, but stood and watched to see what form of rescue would take place.

The Baalei Tosfos asks, "Why didn't they know that he was culpable of the death penalty? Since one receives the death penalty for cursing his father or mother, surely for doing so to Hashem one deserves death as well." The Rosh answers that since blasphemy is so severe, possibly there is no death penalty, so that the transgressor should receive no atonement. Moshe was advised by Hashem that He would be kind and equate His honour with that of a human father or mother and mercifully allow for the death penalty and an atonement on this ephemeral world.

The Kodosh miRadosh (a Rishon) answers that they had already been taught the rule that "ein onshin min hadin" (Vayikroh 20:17, gemara Makos 14a).


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