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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1,2: "Lisheiro, L'imo ul'oviv" - To his wife, To his mother and to his father - In the Haftorah, Yechezkeil 44:25 likewise mentions the exception of the Kohein's defiling himself for his relatives, but leaves out the Kohein's wife. This can be explained by noting that the Prophet Yechezkeil who was a Kohein, was told that he would not mourn his wife's death, "Hin'ni lokei'ach mimcho es machmad ei'necho b'ma'geifoh v'lo sispode v'lo sivkeh v'lo sovo dimo'secho," - Behold I take from you the lust of your eyes in a plague and you will not eulogize nor cry nor shed a tear. This refers to his wife. When there is no requirement to mourn, as is the case here by virtue of a directive from Hashem, there is no permission to defile oneself, hence Yechezkeil left out one's wife because of his personal experience. (Rogatchover Gaon)

Ch. 21, v. 3: "V'laachoso .. asher lo hoysoh l'ish" - And to his sister .. who was not married - Rabbeinu Tam explains that the Torah prohibits a Kohein to defile himself to his dead sister when she was married because her husband, even if he was a Kohein, would attend to her burial needs. If so, why doesn't the Torah likewise prohibit defiling oneself to a deceased mother or daughter who was married? The answer is that one is not as close to his sister as he is to his mother or daughter. Prohibiting him to defile himself to them would cause the Kohein much anguish. (Abarbanel)

Ch. 21, v. 5,6: "Lo yik'r'chu korchoh b'roshom, K'doshim yi'h'yu" - They shall not rip out hair of the head, Holy they shall be - Although the prohibition of verse 5 applies to non-Kohanim as well, here the Torah writes it together with numerous other Kohein targeted laws. The priests of other religions groomed themselves differently from the common folk. This gave then a visual uniqueness, separating them from laity. The most common practice was to shave their heads, remove their sideburns, or shave areas of their beard. Hashem tells the Kohanim that they should be elevated above the common man, not through externals, such as hairstyle, but rather through a meaningful internal sanctity, their behaviour. "K'doshim yi'h'yu lEilokeihem v'lo y'chal'lu shem Elokeihem." (Mahari"l Diskin)

Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto ki es lechem Elokecho hu makriv" - And you shall sanctify him because he sacrifices bread of your G-d - Although the Kohein receives parts of certain sacrifices as payment for his service and it is human nature to not have much respect for one who is the recipient of your handout, be advised that he eats the bread of Hashem, not yours, as per the dictum "mishulchan govoah kozochu" (gemara Kidushin 52b). (Imrei Chein)

Ch. 21, v. 10: "V'haKohein hagodol mei'echov" - And the Kohein who is elevated above his brothers - Historically there were Kohanim G'dolim who received their position through the Roman government, and often through "sold to the highest bidder." The Torah tells us that the Kohein Godol should receive his appointment through "echov," his brother Kohanim who feel that he intrinsically deserves the position. (Tiferes Y'honoson)

The Medrash Tanchuma says that his elevation is by virtue of his wealth. A so-called enlightened person approached Baron Binyomin Zev Rothchild with this question: Do we see from the words of this Medrash Tanchuma that wealth is a significant attribute, as it is a prerequisite to the position of Kohein Godol? "No," responded Baron Rothchild. "It is not an intrinsic positive value. It is only because of the weakness of people to be condescending towards those who are less wealthy than they are that the Torah requires of us to make the Kohein Godol wealthy." (M'oroh Shel Torah)

Ch. 21, v. 12: "U'min hamikdosh lo yeitzei" - And from the Sanctuary he shall not exit - The Torah clearly states here that the Kohein Godol not leave the sanctuary, nor refrain from doing the priestly service even when experiencing the death of the closest of kin. There is however a Rabbinic decree that he not do the service for fear that he might out of habit come to eat from the sacrifice, and this is prohibited. How can the Rabbis enact this prohibition according to the opinion of the Ra"n, the Ta"z, and others that the Rabbis do not enact a decree that is in direct contradiction to the words of the Torah, in our case "u'min hamokdosh lo yeitzei"?

The fulfillment of the words of our verse could possibly only apply to Yom Kippur, when there is no fear that he might partake of the sacrifice, as any eating is prohibited. Even though this is a very narrow and incorrect interpretation of the verse, nevertheless, since it is of itself correct, as indeed on Yom Kippur he is to do the service even if the closest of kin has just died, we do not consider the Rabbinic decree as a contravention of the literal words of the Torah, and they are allowed to enact their safeguard prohibition. (Tomar Devorah)

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Mikro'ei kodesh" - Callings of sanctity - The Ramban explains that this means that people should assemble to sanctify the day with prayer and praise of Hashem. It seems that the Ramban's position is that prayer with a congregation on Yom Tov is a Torah level mitzvoh and not Rabbinic.

Ch. 23, v. 10: "El ho'oretz asher ani nosein lochem uk'tzartem es k'tziroh vaha'veisem es omer reishis k'tzirchem" - To the land that I give you and you will cut its harvest and you shall bring the omer offering the first of your cutting - When the congregation is asked to hold off using the new grain crop until after the omer offering is first given to Hashem, the verse stresses that I, Hashem, AM GIVING the land to you on an ongoing basis. Do not become comfortable with and take for granted your ownership of the land. It is predicated upon your complying with Hashem's mitzvos. Your existence in the land is otherwise very tenuous. As well, when you harvest, note that it is "k'tzirOH," HER harvest, the land's harvest, as it is not considered totally yours, as you may not harvest nor consume grain before bringing the omer. Only after bringing the omer does this verse say that it is "k'tzirCHEM," YOUR harvest. (The Holy Alshich)

Ch. 23, v. 22: "Uvkutz'r'chem es k'tzir artz'chem" - And when you cut the harvest of your land - This seems to be totally out of place within the topic of listing Yomim Tovim. Rashi says that this question was asked by Rabbi Avdimi b"R Yoseif and Rashi brings his answer. Another answer is offered by the Mahari"l Diskin. This parsha begins with verse 15 and discusses the laws of bringing the meal offering of the new crop. This permits the bringing of meal offerings of the new crop just as the Omer offering permits the eating of the new grain crop of secular "chulin" food. Once the new crop meal offering has been brought on Shovuos make sure to leave over certain items of your field for the poor man so that he may also have items of the new crop to offer to Hashem.



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

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