subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 21, v. 1: "Emor el haKohanim" - Rashi comments: To warn the adults regarding the children. Rabbi Chaim of Tchernovitz in B'eir Mayim Chaim interprets this to mean that the adults should be cautioned to behave in a befitting manner, so that the children should learn from them how to properly act.

Ch. 21, v. 2: "L'imo u'l'oviv" - Here by the regular Kohein, where the Torah permits defiling oneself to a deceased parent, the Torah mentions a mother first, to indicate that even when the Kohein's father is still living he may defile himself to his mother. One might have thought that this would only be permitted when the Kohein's father is no longer living and in some circumstances his mother has no one else to involve himself with her burial except for her son the Kohein.

By the case of the Kohein Godol's parents death, where the Torah prohibits his defiling himself (21:11), the Torah first mentions his father to tell you that even if the Kohein Godol's father has already died, his son may not defile himself to his mother, even though her husband is not alive to tend to her burial needs. (Meshech Chochmoh)

Ch. 21, v. 7: "V'ishoh grushoh mei'ishoh lo yikochu" - The reason the Torah prohibits a Kohein to marry a divorced woman is that women are often involved with Kohanim's servicing their sacrifices. There is a fear that a Kohein might take a strong interest in a woman and persuade her to receive a divorce from her husband. This fear is preempted once a divorced woman is not permitted to a Kohein. (Mivtzar Yisroel)

Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto" - Rashi says that one is required to sanctify a Kohein against the Kohein's will. The Holy Admor Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorke says that specifically a Kohein whose wish it is that he receive no preferential treatment is the Kohein who deserves to be sanctified. While on the subject of a Kohein who wishes to not be held in sanctified esteem, if indeed he tells us that he wants to forgo this privilege are we still required to sanctify him?

The Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvos writes that we must still do so. The Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. #128 writes that we need not give him special treatment. It seems that these two opinions are mentioned in the Tosefta Sanhedrin chapter 3, which says, "If a Kohein wishes to bathe with other people in the public bathhouse he may do so. Rabbi Yehudoh says that he may not, as per the word in our verse "v'kidashto."

Ch. 21, v. 10: "V'haKohein hagodol MEI'ECHOV" - We can derive from the word "mei'echov" that the Torah wants the Kohein Godol to be one who is in his position with the consent of his brethren, and not by virtue of being appointed by the government of a foreign nation and not even by the appointment of the Jewish king, as unfortunately both these situations historically took place in later years. (Tiferes Yonoson)

Ch. 21, v. 12: "Umin haMikdosh lo yeitzei" - Even upon suffering the loss of any close relative the Kohein Godol may not display mourning and continues to do service in the Mikdosh. However, as an "o'non," a mourner on the day of death and burial of a close relative, he may not partake of the meat of a sacrifice. Although permitted by the Torah, there is a Rabbinical decree against his doing the service of a sacrifice whose meat is eaten as he might out of habit eat its meat once he has done the sacrificial service. A question is raised on this Rabbinical decree. It is well known to those who know it well, that the Rabbis do not institute a decree annulling that which the Torah clearly permits (Ra"n and others). If so, how could the Rabbis prohibit the Kohein Godol's processing a sacrifice since the Torah clearly states "umin haMikdosh lo yeitzei," which means that he may do ALL sacrificial services? Answer next week.

Ch. 21, v. 14: "Ki im b'suloh mei'amov yikach ishoh" - The Moshav Z'keinim says that the reason the Torah prohibited a Kohein Godol from marrying a widow, who is allowed to a regular Kohein, is because if he were allowed to marry a widow there is a fear that when he is doing the service of the incense on Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies, where his entreaties are readily fulfilled by Hashem, he might pray that the husband of a woman in whom he is interested in marrying, should die. This is a most startling "chidush," as he is involved in such holy service on the holiest day of the year in the holiest location in the world. As well, he is not assured that the woman who might be widowed would agree to become his wife. We see from the words of the Moshav Z'keinim that in spite of all this, there is a fear of his having such matters on his mind. This might be a new insight into why we read the parsha of forbidden marriage partners during the "minchoh" prayers of Yom Kippur.

Ch. 21, v. 21,22: "Kol ish asher bo moom mi'zera Aharon haKohein lo yigash l'hakriv, Lechem Elokov ...... yocheil" - The Torah teaches us an important lesson. If a person is unable to function in a capacity that would bring him sustenance we are responsible to sustain him, just as the Kohein who has a physical blemish that renders him unfit to serve in the Mikdosh is still allowed to eat of the sacrifices. On the other hand, if he is able to do any sort of work, he should pursue it, as we find in the gemara Yoma 54a that the Kohein who has a physical blemish that renders him unfit to serve in the Mikdosh is given the task of deworming the wood used as fuel on the altar. (Oznayim laTorah)

Ch. 22, v. 32: "V'nikdashti" - The Torah exhorts us to give up even our lives for the sanctification of Hashem. We have a tradition that the lengthy offerings of the Baalei Tosfos on chapter M'ruboh in B.K. where all written on the night before their authors gave up their lives "al kiddush Hashem." Even with the knowledge that a "sharp sword was at their necks" the Baalei Tosfos immersed themselves into deep study of the holy Torah. (Shaa'rei Aryeh)

Ch. 23, v. 2: "DA'BEIR el bnei Yisroel v'omarto a'lei'hem eileh mo'a'dei Hashem" - The term DIBUR connotes tough words. Why is there a need for tough words as an introduction to the Yomim Tovim? The Rambam in hilchos Yom Tov 6:20 mentions that with the merrymaking of Yom Tov a person's guard against his evil inclination is down and he should therefore be extra careful to avoid the temptation of sinning. There is therefore a need to preface the Yomim Tovim with a warning, DA'BEIR. (Dvash V'cholov)

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Eileh mo'a'dei Hashem asher tikru OSOM" - Our Rabbis have taught in the gemara Yerushalmi 15:3 that Shabbosos and Yomim Tovim were given to the bnei Yisroel to busy themselves in the study of Torah. The word OSOM is spelled deficiently, lacking a letter Vov. It is also understood to mean ATTEM, you (plural) gemara R.H. 25a. Thus we can interpret our verse to contain the above message. These are my holidays, so that "tikru ATTEM," you may read (the Torah). (Rabbi Chaim Palagi)

Ch. 23, v. 3: "Shabbos hee laShem b'chole moshvoseichem" - What do we learn from the words "b'chole moshvoseichem" - in all your dwellings? The gemara Horios 4b says that the Saducees misinterpreted the Torah and derived from the words "bechorish uvakotzir tishbose" (Shmos 34:21) that one is required to keep the Shabbos holy only when there is a Shabbos restriction to not plow nor harvest. During the "shmitoh" year when there is a prohibition to plow or harvest every day of the week there is no Shabbos. Following their mistaken reasoning, Shabbos would still apply outside of Eretz Yisroel even on a "shmitoh" year, as plowing and harvesting are always permitted outside of Eretz Yisroel. We would thus have an anomaly of having Shabbos outside of Eretz Yisroel during a "shmitoh" year, while there would be no Shabbos in Eretz Yisroel. The Torah is teaching us that the ruling of the Saducees is false, by stating that Shabbos applies "b'chole moshvoseichem," in all your dwellings, whether they be in or outside of Eretz Yisroel. (Meshech Chochmoh)

Ch. 23, v. 15: "Usfartem lochem" - The Abarbenel and the Shibolei Ho'leket #236 write that the reason the Torah requires a counting leading up to Shovuos is so that the farmer who is totally immersed in his agrarian pursuits will know when Shovuos will be so that he can take part in the pilgrimage to Yerusholayim.

Ch. 23, v. 15: "Usfartem lochem ...... sheva shabosos t'mimos" - This is the mitzvoh to count 49 days from the day of bringing the Omer offering until Shovuos. Why don't we make a "shehecheyonu" blessing when commencing this mitzvoh? Answers next week.

Ch. 23, v. 17: "Chometz tei'o'fenoh" - The two breads of Shovuos are unique in that they are chometz. It is therefore most startling that Rashi on the gemara M'nochos 95b d.h. "b'mokome" writes that the breads were prepared with alacrity so that they should not become leavened. See the responsa of the Noda bIhudoh M.K. O.Ch #16, Teshuvoh Mei'ahavoh vol.2 #260, and Chasam Sofer O.Ch. #125.

Ch. 23, v. 21: "Ukro'sem b'etzem hayom ha'zeh mikro kodesh y'h'yeh lochem" - Why does this verse duplicate the CALLING of the Yom Tov, using both the word "ukro'sem" and "mikro?" Also, what is the intention of "b'etzem hayom hazeh," - in this very day? Rabbi Elozor Moshe Horowitz zt"l, Rov of Minsk, answers that the verse alludes to the ruling of the Tu'rei Zohov in his one line preface to O.Ch. #474, that on the eve of Shovuos one should not make "kiddush" early, before it is completely night, so as not to contravene the requirement to have seven FULL weeks from the beginning of the "sefiroh" before the advent of Shovuos. This is alluded to by the words "ukro'sem b'etzem hayom ha'zeh," - and you shall herald in the Yom Tov ON THIS VERY DAY, by making "kiddush," and not any earlier. However, "tosfos Yom Tov" may be added, as this is independent of "kiddush." Thus the verse ends, "mikro kodesh y'h'yeh lochem," - calling this day holy early by making "tosfos Yom Tov" is for you, without mentioning "b'etzem hayom ha'zeh."

Ch. 23, v. 22: "Uvkutz'r'chem es k'tzir artz'chem" - Rashi explains why this mitzvoh of leaving over produce for the poor man is placed in the middle of the listing of the Yomim Tovim. A simple explanation is that it is between Shovuos and Rosh Hashonoh that the majority of produce develops and harvesting begins. This explanation is not very satisfactory as even agricultural charity to the poor man is still off topic in the middle of discussing the Yomim Tovim. Perhaps another insight might be that one might feel that upon accepting the Torah on Shovuos he is very strongly connected to Hashem. The Torah therefore tells us that this spiritual connection "bein odom laMokome" is not enough. One must also act with compassion in this physical world, embodied by agricultural pursuits, and leave of his produce for the poor man, "bein odom lacha'veiro." This would also explain the order of the mishnoh. Its first volume is Brochos and is followed by Pei'oh. The first mishnoh in Brochos deals with the laws of reading "Shma" and "V'hoyoh im shomo'a." These two chapters embody the commitment to believe in Hashem, "kabolas ole malchus shomayim," and commitment to fulfill the mitzvos, "kabolas ole mitzvos." Right on its heels follows the mishnoh tractate Pei'oh to teach that even when one has committed himself to Hashem he must still remember to be compassionate to his fellow man by leaving Pei'oh etc. in the field.

Answer to last week's question:

Ch. 18, v. 17: "Ervas ishoh u'vitoh lo s'ga'lei" - This is the prohibition to have relations with both one's wife and her daughter. According to the opinion that "ubor yerech imo," - a fetus is considered a limb of its mother (gemara Gitin 23b), why isn't it prohibited to have relations with one's wife while she is pregnant, as the husband is also having relations with the fetus, which might be female, and is thus her daughter?

This question was sent by Rabbi Shlomo Eiger to his father Rabbi Akiva Eiger. In his responsa #172 Rabbi Akiva Eiger answers that this is indeed as if the man is having relations with the fetus. However, having relations with a girl who is under three years of age does not have the halachic status of physical relations. Although it is strictly forbidden by Rabbinical decree for one to have relations with any girl under the age of three years, even one's own wife, this is because it is considered that the man has wasted his seed, since it was not spent in an act of halachically recognized relations. However, when one is having relations with his own pregnant wife, he has not sinned with her daughter and has also not wasted his seed, hence it is totally permitted.



Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel