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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 5, v. 14: "V'hee nitmo'oh .. v'hee lo nitmo'oh" - Either she was defiled .. or she was not defiled - Haksav V'hakaboloh asks, "Why doesn't the verse simply say 'v'lo noda im nitmo'oh,' - and it was not known if she was defiled?" He answers that the verse is telling us that once the husband warns her to not go into seclusion with a certain person, the "sotoh" procedure is required, whether she hid with a man who very likely sinned with her, i.e. a licentious immoral person, "v'hee nit'mo'oh," or if she hid with a person who very likely did not sin with her, i.e. her father, "v'hee lo nitmo'oh." In either case she must go through the procedure.

Ch. 5, v. 18: "V'he'emid haKohein es ho'ishoh" - And the Kohein should place the woman - Rashi (gemara Sotoh 8a) asks, "Verse 16 already told us that the Kohein should place the woman in front of Hashem, 'v'he'emidoh lifnei Hashem.'" Rashi answers that this teaches us that we move the woman from place to place, back and forth, to make her weary and to weaken her resolution in the hope that she will admit to sinning. This would avoid the need for erasing Hashem's Holy Name from the chapter of "sotoh" that would be written if she went ahead with the test.

However, it seems that the Ibn Ezra answers this question on a simple level. He says that the earlier words in verse 16, "V'hikriv osoh haKohein" refer to the "minchoh" offering of the previous verse. If we say that the second half of the verse also refers to the "minchoh" offering, as is also indicated by the Ibn Ezra who says that "v'he'emidoh lifnei Hashem" means in front of the altar, the original question is resolved. It seems that Rashi does not agree with the Ibn Ezra because later the Torah says that the "minchoh" offering should be placed in front of Hashem and brought close to the altar in verse 25. The Ibn Ezra might respond that verse 25 tells us a new bit of information, that the "minchoh" should be WAVED in front of Hashem.

Ch. 5, v. 25: "Miyad ho'ishoh eis minchas hakno'ose" - From the hand of the woman the meal offering of warning - The Sifri says that we derive from these words that if the woman was menstruating she would not drink of the "sotoh" waters. Lekach Tov says that this is because she would then have the status of being defiled and cannot hold the sanctified meal offering, as she would in turn defile it. However, the Malbim disagrees, as the "minchoh" has no liquid in it (verse 15) and as such cannot become defiled. Although there is defilement of a dry meal offering because of "chibas hakodesh," this is but a Rabbinical ruling. He explains that the reason we do not go through the "sotoh" procedure is because it is required to take place within the Mikdosh compound, and a "nidoh" may not be there. If the Malbim's reason is correct, one would have to explain why the Sifri does not derive this earlier from verse 16 according to Rashi or verse 18 according to the Ibn Ezra.

Ch. 6, v. 4: "Meichartzanim v'ad zog" - From seeds to outer shell - Rashi says that "zog" means the peel of the grapes. Rabbeinu Shimshon of Shantz in his commentary on mishnios Taharos 4:4 writes that it is not the custom of bnei Yisroel to peel anything with their mouth. Only non-Jews do this.

Ch. 6, v. 5: "Kodosh y'h'yeh" - He shall be holy - What level of sanctity does the "nozir" have? Sefer Hachinuch in mitzvoh #376 writes that he is to be equated with the Kohein Godol. He derives this from the fact that a "nozir" may not defile himself even to his 7 closest relatives (verse 7), just like the Kohein Godol (Vayikroh 21:11). As well, the Torah says that both the "nozir" and the Kohein Godol have Hashem's "crown" upon them, "ki nei'zer Elokov al rosho" (verse 7), and "ki nei'zer shemen mish'chas Elokov olov" (Vayikroh 21:22).

The Rambam in hilchos "shmitoh v'yoveil" 13:12 writes: The reason that the tribe of Levi did not receive a portion of land in Eretz Yisroel as did the other tribes is because they are separated to serve Hashem and to teach His righteous ways to the masses, as is written, "Yoru mishpo'techo l'Yaakov v'Toros'cho l'Yisroel" (Dvorim 33:10). Therefore they are separated from worldly activities, and are not drafted into the army, nor do they receive an inheritance in the land. Rather, they are the army of Hashem, as is stated, "Bo'reich Hashem cheilo" (Dvorim 33:11), and in spite of their not pursuing worldly matters Hashem provides for them, as is written, "Ani chel'k'cho v'nachalo'secho" (Bmidbar 18:20). The Rambam continues in halacha 13: Not only the tribe of Levi, but anyone whose spirit has elevated him and his intellect has brought him to separate himself to stand in service of Hashem and to pursue understanding of Hashem's holiness and goes on a straight path, as Hashem has created humanity, and removes from his neck the petty calculations of the common man that sideline a person from pursuing the true goal (as per Koheles 7:29), he is sanctified to become Holy of Holies, and Hashem will become his "lot and inheritance" for all eternity. Just as the L'viim merit to have their physical needs met through Hashem's special involvement, so too, he will merit this, as is stated by King Dovid, "Hashem m'nos chelki atoh tomich goroli" (T'hilim 16:5).

The Radva"z in his commentary on these words of the Rambam in halochos 12 and 13 writes that the basis of the Rambam is "mi'yosher daato u'svoroso," from the straightness of his knowledge and his understanding.

Rabbi Meir Simchoh haKohein of Meshech Chochmoh fame writes in responsa Ohr So'mei'ach in his final responsa (#67) that the source for the Rambam that anyone who has made the service of Hashem his calling, has brought himself to the level of the tribe of Levi, is from Divrei Hayomim 1, where we find that the verses mention by all the tribes that they are "giborei chayil latzovo," or some other similar expression, except for the tribes of Levi and Yisochor. We know that Levi is exempt, but why is Yisochor exempt? He answers that it is well known that the tribe of Yisochor took upon itself to study Torah full time, a most vital service of Hashem. We thus see that one can take upon himself the service of the tribe of Levi, and the Rambam extended this to other areas.

The words of the Ohr So'mei'ach are most puzzling, as we find the words "g'du'dei tz'vo milchomoh" by the tribe of Yisochor (Divrei Hayomim 1:7:5) and as well, it is not found by a number of other tribes. To check this out requires reading from chapter 7 through chapter 12.

Rabbi Yehudoh Kuperman shlit"a suggests that the Rambam has as a source for these halochos the laws of the "nozir" in our verses regarding defilement, with the insight of the Chinuch brought earlier. The Chinuch writes that a "nozir" has sanctified himself and is on the level of a Kohein Godol. This is done of his own volition, and is a most wonderful source for the Rambam. It may be added that the Rambam himself writes that a "nozir" is on the level of a Kohein Godol in Moreh N'vuchim 3:48. As well, if this is the source for the Rambam, it is very well understood why he writes that the "nozir" is sanctified "Kodesh Kodoshim," as this term is used by the Kohein Godol Aharon in Divrei Hayomim 1:23:13, "Va'yibo'deil Aharon l'hakdisho kodesh kodoshim."

Ch. 6, v. 9: "V'chi yomus meis olov b'fesa pisom v'ti'mei" - If someone were to suddenly die upon him and he would become defiled - Commentators say that the reason a "nozir" is dealt with even more strictly than a Kohein Godol when he becomes defiled in a circumstance that is beyond his control, and is required to bring sacrifices for atonement (verses 10-12), while the Kohein Godol brings no sacrifices, is because the "nozir" CHOSE of his own volition to become sanctified. Therefore his responsibility is even greater. He should have created such an aura of sanctity about him that this should not have happened.

Ch. 7, v. 89: "Vayishma es hakole mi'da'beir eilov .. mi'bein shnei hakruvim" - And he heard the voice as it spoke to itself .. from between the two cherubs - We find that Rashi deals with the seeming contradiction between verses as to from where the voice of Hashem came to Moshe. He (Sifri 7:162) explains that the voice came down from heaven to the area between the two "kruvim," and from there it went to Ohel Mo'eid, where Moshe heard Hashem's voice.

It seems that these words of Rashi are based on the words "mi'bein shnei hakruvim" of our verse. If so, why did Rashi explain this first in d.h. "u'v'vo Moshe" before he went on to explain the word "mi'da'beir," which appears earlier in the verse?

Perhaps because Rashi's answer includes an explanation of "el Ohel Mo'eid," indicating that Moshe heard the voice in Ohel Mo'eid, and these words appear in the verse before "mi'da'beir," Rashi is actually commenting on the words of our verse in order.

The Moshav Z'keinim says that the voice of Hashem traveled a total of 7 stations until it was heard by Moshe, from Hashem to "chayos," to "malach," to Ohel Mo'eid, to the Holy Ark, to the Holy Tablets, to the "kaporres," to the cherubs. The Moshav Z'keinim adds that if the voice traveled from inside the Ark to the cherubs, we must say that there were openings in the "kaporres." This is most puzzling, as we must assume that the voice traveled supernaturally, as it emanated from the heavens and came to earth. If so, it could travel from inside the Ark through the "kaporres" without being muffled even if there were no openings in the "kaporres."

It also seems that the Moshav Z'keinim does not agree with Rashi's answer to the contradiction, as he states that Ohel Mo'eid was the third stop along the way, and not that the voice went from between the "kruvim" to Ohel Mo'eid. An allusion to the 7 stations that Hashem's voice traveled might be indicated in chapter 29 of T'hilim, where it says "kole Hashem" 7 times.

While on the subject of hearing a voice that comes from a great distance, the Ohr Zorua in his commentary on the gemara Eiruvin 43a (siman #147) writes that a "shin-dalet" spoke from Sura to another "shin-dalet" in Pumbadisa through a long hollow reed. Perhaps this was the forerunner of fibre-optic communication.



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

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