subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues



Ch. 9, v. 3: "S'ir izim l'chatos v'ei'gel vo'cheves .. l'oloh" - Toras Kohanim Shmini #3 says that sacrifices were required to atone for the sin of selling Yoseif and for the sin of the golden calf. Regarding the sale of Yoseif, his brothers INTENDED to do something bad to him, as Yoseif said, "V'attem chashavtem olay ro'oh" (Breishis 50:20), but DID an act that RESULTED in good, "Elokim chashovoh l'tvoh." The INTENTION of creating the golden calf was for good, to embody in the golden calf a source for the Holy Spirit of Hashem (see Ramban), but it RESULTED in bad, as the people sinned with idol worship. We now understand why both "chatos" and "oloh" sacrifices were required. A "chatos" atones for a sinful ACT, while an "oloh" atones for bad intention. (Malbim)

Ch. 9, v. 7: "Vaa'sei es chatos'cho v'es olo'secho v'cha'peir baadcho uv'ad ho'om va'a'sei es korban ho'om v'cha'peir baadom" -There is a most perplexing Toras Kohanim at the beginning of our parsha. During the dedication ceremony of the inauguration of the Mishkon Aharon brought sacrifices to atone for himself and the nation the Toras Kohanim says that the sacrifices that Aharon brought to atone for himself were only for the sin of later, the golden calf, in which he took part, but the sacrifices brought for the bnei Yisroel were to atone for both the beginning, the sale of Yoseif, as we find that the bnei Yisroel required a "s'ir izim," a goat as an atonement, just as we find a "s'ir izim" in the sale of Yoseif (Breishis 37:31), as well as for later, the sin of the golden calf. These words are most puzzling. Aharon was a descendant of Levi, who along with Shimon took a most pivotal part in the sale of Yoseif, actually wanting to have him killed. How then was Aharon not in need of atonement for the sale of Yoseif more than any of the other bnei Yisroel?

Rashi on the words "v'ro'acho v'somach b'libo" (Shmos 4:14) says that in the merit of Aharon's having true hapiness in his heart that Moshe would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, even though Aharon was his older brother, he merited to have the Choshen on his heart, as stated in Ch. 28, v. 29: "V'nosso Aharon es shmos bnei Yisroel b'choshen hamishpot al LIBO."

The Meshech Chochmoh in parshas Acha'rei explains the words of our Yom Kippur prayer "ki Atoh Solchon l'Yisroel u'Mocholon l'shivtei Yeshurun." He says that besides our asking for individual atonement for our own personal sins, we ask Hashem for forgiveness for two communal sins, the sin of the golden calf, a sin between man and Hashem, and the sin of the sale of Yoseif, a sin between man and his fellow man. Thus we say that You Hashem are the SOLCHON, Forgiver, to the bnei Yisroel, referring to the sin of the golden calf, where we find the term "Va'yomeir Hashem SOLACHTI kidvo'recho" (Bmidbar 14:20).

In regard to requesting Hashem for forgiveness for the sale of Yoseif we say "u'MOCHOLON l'SHIVTEI Yeshurun." This is a most unusual term to use for the bnei Yisroel. However, it is well understood if referring to the bnei Yisroel in regard to the lingering shadow of the sin of selling Yoseif, which was done by the tribal ancestors, SHIVTEI YESHURUN.

He goes on to explain that this concept of the two communal sins carries through to other matters. The gemara R.H. 27a says that the reason the Kohein Godol does not wear his normal eight priestly garments when he enters the Holy of Holies to beseech atonement is because the set of eight garments include the material gold, a stark reminder of the gold used for greating the golden calf. We have a rule that "ein ka'teigor naa'seh sa'neigor," - a prosecutor may not become a defender. Gold indicts the bnei Yisroel, so it is inappropriate to wear it when entreating Hashem for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. The Meshech Chochmoh adds that likewise it is inappropriate for him to wear the set of eight garments, which includes the Choshen that carries upon it the names of all the tribes, since we are also requesting atonement for the sale of Yoseif, which was perpetrated by his brothers, the tribal ancestors.

He says that this also explains why the holiest service of atonement, the offering of the incense in the Holy of Holies is brought specifically there. Besides the obvious that it is appropriate to have the holiest person do the holiest service on the holiest day of the year in the holiest location on earth, he says that since we are requesting of Hashem to forgive us the sin of selling Yoseif, it requires taking place in the tribal portion of Binyomin, who was not a partner in this crime. The Holy of Holies is in the tribal portion of Binyomin.

He continues by saying that once the kingdom was split with a king of Yehudoh and a king of the north, the Urim and Tumim were no longer consulted for Divine guidance. This is because the Choshen contains the names of the tribes. Once the tribes were not unified, as the kingdom split, it was inappropriate to use the Choshen , which embodies the concept of the unity of the tribes.

The words of Rashi mentioned earlier are so well understood now with the insight of the Meshech Chochmoh. The Choshen symbolizes the unity of the tribes. The older brothers were jealous of their younger brother Yoseif when he claimed that he had received a prophecy by way of dreams that he would become a king. This was the antithesis of the Choshen. Aharon, on the other hand, displayed the opposite reaction. Hashem testified that when Aharon would meet Moshe who would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, chosen over his older brother, nevertheless, he would feel only true happiness in his heart, the opposite reaction to that of the brothers of Yoseif, he deserved to have the Choshen with the names of all the tribes, indicating unity without jealousy, upon his heart.

Perhaps we can now understand the Toras Kohanim. Although the tribe of Levi required atonement for the sale of Yoseif, Aharon personally did not. By displaying an attitude of total happiness that his younger brother Moshe would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, Aharon by attitude corrected this flaw, hence he did not require a sacrificial atonement.

Ch. 9, v. 7: "Vaa'sei es chatos'cho v'es olo'secho v'cha'peir baadcho uv'ad ho'om va'a'sei es korban ho'om v'cha'peir baadom" - A simple reading of these words indicates that Aharon's sacrifice afforded atonement for himself and the nation, and that the nation required a second atonement, afforded by their own separate sacrifice. The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the Toras Kohanim Shmini #3 says that Aharon was required to offer a calf as an atonement for the golden calf, since he was involved in its creation. The bnei Yisroel were guilty not only for serving the golden calf but also for being instrumental in Aharon's creating it. The gemara Shabbos 149b says that if one is instrumental in his friend's being punished, he is not allowed into the abode of Hashem. With Aharon's offering his "chatos" and "oloh" he brings atonement for his creating the golden calf and for the bnei Yisroel's coercing him to create it. However, a separate sacrifice is still required to atone for the bnei Yisroel's actually serving the golden calf.

A variation on the Meshech Chochmoh is offered by the Kli Yokor. He says that Aharon sinned in action only when he created the golden calf, as he did not believe in it. The bnei Yisroel sinned both in thought, as they accepted the golden calf as a god, and in action, by their serving it. Sins in the realm of thought require an "oloh" sacrifice, as mentioned in the Toras Kohanim 7:3. Sins in the realm of action require a "chatos" offering. Thus we find in verse 2 that Aharon brought a calf as a "chatos" since he sinned only in action. The bnei Yisroel who sinned both in thought and in action brought a calf and a lamb as an "oloh" offering to atone for their thoughts, and a goat as a "chatos" offering to atone for their actions, as per verse 3.

Ch. 10, v. 2: "Vatochal osom" - The Baal Haturim says that the numerical value of "vatochal" equals that of "Zeh shnei chutin," this is 'two threads.' The gemara Sanhedrin 52a says that Nodov and Avihu died through a celestial fire that came in the form of two threads and entered their nostrils. As well, the Baal Haturim points out that the numerical value of the word "osom" equals that of "zeh ha'nefesh," again as per one opinion in the above gemara that the fire destroyed their insides, consuming their souls, but the exterior of their bodies were not burned.

Ch. 10, v. 3: "Va'yidome Aharon" - Rashi (M.R. 12:2) says that in the merit of Aharon's remaining mute in spite of the horrific pain of the loss of his two eldest sons, the parsha of the laws of "sh'suyei yayin," restrictions against doing service after drinking wine, was told directly to him (10:8-11). On the gemara Zvochim 115b Tosfos d.h. "v'ki'beil" asks from the Sifri in parshas Korach, which asks that in 16:20 the verse says that Hashem spoke to both Moshe and Aharon, but ends in 17:5 by saying "kaasher di'ber Hashem b'yad Moshe lo," indicating that Hashem spoke only to Moshe. The Sifri answers that Hashem only spoke to Moshe, but commanded him to tell the information to Aharon. Tosfos asks that if so, in our parsha in 10:8 Hashem also spoke to Moshe to tell Aharon, and did not speak directly to Aharon, contrary to the words of the M.R. 12:2. Tosfos answers that the intention of the M.R. is that Aharon merited that the wording of the verse indicates that Moshe tell Aharon, in contra-distinction to other times when the verse says that Hashem told Moshe to tell the bnei Yisroel.

Mahari"l Diskin answers that since the parsha expresses itself as if Hashem were talking directly to Aharon, "al teisht atoh uvo'necho itoch," this was his reward. Perhaps the intention of Tosfos is inclusive of the insight of Mahari"l Diskin.

Ch. 10, v. 20: "Va'yishma Moshe va'yi'tav b'einov" - Rashi (T.K. 10:60) says "hodeh v'lo bosh lomar lo shomati," Moshe admitted that he was mistaken and was not embarrassed. Had he been embarrassed he would have said that he never heard this ruling. The gemara Z'vochim 101b adds "elo shomati v'shochachti," but rather, he admitted that he heard the ruling but forgot it. We see from this that it is a greater shame to say, "I heard but forgot" than to say, "I never heard." However, from the gemara Yerushalmi Chagigoh 1:8 it seems that the opposite is true. The gemara relates that a message was sent from one community to another regarding a great Torah scholar who was sent to the second community. The message was, "We have sent you a 'great personage.' His greatness lies in his willingness to admit that he has not heard a Torah ruling." We see from this that it is harder for a person to admit that he has not learned a point of information than to admit that he has learned it but forgot it. The commentator Tzion vIrusholayim answers that specifically for Moshe it was a greater embarrassment to say "I learned it, but forgot" because if he had not learn something yet, he would surely learn it from Hashem later, as he was to transmit the Torah in its entirety to the bnei Yisroel. For Moshe to have learned and forgotten something that he was required to transmit to the bnei Yisroel is a greater embarrassment. For others who already have the Torah available, written and oral, it is a greater shame to have to admit that they have not yet learned. The Shiu'rei Korbon answers that although it is a greater shame to admit to not having learned a Torah ruling, in the case of Moshe the opposite is true. Aharon responded to Moshe that it was correct to burn the sacrifice. He came to this conclusion through the logic of "kal vocho'mer," one of the 13 exegetical manners of understanding the intention of the Torah (see gemara Z'vochim 101b). This logic can be refuted by counter-logic. Had Moshe said that he never was taught this ruling from Hashem it would have indicated that this was an incorrect ruling, as he was taught the complete Torah and was not taught this point. This would have been a face saving response. In spite of this he readily admitted that he did learn the ruling but forgot it.

Ch. 11, v. 2: "Zose hachayoh asher tochlu mikol hab'heimoh asher AL HO'ORETZ" - The Ramban interprets the words "al ho'oretz" as "al pnei kol ho'oretz," meaning anywhere in the world. Alternatively, he says that these words indicate that the signs for kashrus of an animal offered here apply only to those animals that live on the earth, but sea creatures have different guidelines, as delineated in the laws of fish.

Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Gottlieb Karliner, the Sheima Shlomo, explains the words "al ho'oretz" with the gemara Sanhedrin 59b. Rabbi Shimon bar Chalafta was walking and came upon lions. They roared in a manner indicating that they had come upon their meal. Rabbi Shimon said the verse in T'hilim 104:21, "Hakfirim sho'agim lato'ref," - the young lions roar for their meal. Miraculously, two thighs of meat descended from heaven and Rabbi Shimon offered them to the lions. They consumed one and left the other one over. Rabbi Shimon brought it with him to the Beis Hamedrash. The question was raised if the meat was permissible for consumption. The Rabbis of the Beis Hamedrash concluded that anything that is sent from heaven is permitted. The Sheima Shlomo says that this is the intention of the words "al ho'oretz." When dealing with animals that roam on the earth signs of kashrus are required as per verse 3. However, if meat is sent from heaven, no sign is needed to permit its consumption.

Ch. 11, v. 5: "V'es hashofon .. u'farsoh lo YAFRIS" - Why is the future tense, "it WILL not split" used? The Mahari"l Diskin answers that the nature of this creature is that as it ages, its hooves split further and further. One might think that although when it is younger and its hoof is not very split, it would still be permitted as it later splits further, as is the ruling regarding the signs of kashrus of fish, that even if a sign is lacking in a young fish, if it appears in an older mature fish of the same species, that is sufficient to permit its consumption at any stage, as per the gemara Chulin 66a. Therefore our verse tells us that although there is more division of its hooves as it grows older, but it WILL NEVER be fully split, "lo yafris."

Ch. 11,v. 7: "V'es hachazir" - An "enlightened" Jew, one of a group of people who threw off the yoke of Torah, irreverently and arrogantly said with much pride to the Beis haLevi, "Rabbi, I have committed every sin that is possible to transgress, including the consumption of pig," a sin that is taboo to even the most irreligious Jew. The Beis haLevi responded, "If this is truly so, then you are greater than the Rambam." This response piqued the curiosity of this irreligious person and he asked for a clarification of the Beis haLevi's words. The Beis haLevi said that in the third chapter of the Rambam's work Mo'reh N'vuchim he explains the reasoning behind the mitzvos. Regarding the prohibition of eating pig the Rambam writes, "Eini yodei'a TAAM chazir," - I do not know the TAAM, the reason, for the prohibition of pig. Said the Beis haLevi, "Although the Rambam does not know the TAAM of pig, you do." (The word TAAM means both "reason" and "taste.")

Ch. 11, v. 20: "Sheketz hu lochem" - This verse prohibits the eating of flying insects. Targum Yonoson ben Uziel writes on these words, "b'ram duvsho d'ziboro yisocheil," - however honey of a bee may be eaten. The gemara B'choros 7b derives this from the opening words of the next verse, "Es zeh tochlu." Rabbi Akiva says that since these words are on the heels of the prohibition of our verse, we may deduce that although eating insects is prohibited, that which they excrete, honey, may be eaten. There may also be an allusion to this within our verse, which says "haholeich al Arba Sheketz Hu lochem." The first letters of "Arba Sheketz Hu" are Alef-Shin-Hei, whose numerical value equals that of DVASH, 306.



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