by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHMINI 5769 BS"D
Ch. 9, v. 7: "Krav el hamizbei'ach" - Rashi says that Aharon was embarrassed and afraid to come to the altar and officiate. Moshe responded, "Why are you embarrassed? 'L'KACH nivcharto,' - For this you were chosen." L'KACH has numerous interpretations.
1) BECAUSE you have sinned you were chosen. The gemara Yoma 22b says that only a person who has a "basket of vermin hanging behind him," in our colloquial "skeletons in the closet," should be chosen as a leader. The gemara explains that this is required because otherwise there would be a fear that upon being placed in a position of great authority it might go to his head and he might act improperly. Having a tainted history, either through one's own actions, or by a stain on the family tree keeps one in line. Since Aharon was involved in the creation of the golden calf, thus staining his otherwise flawless reputation, specifically for this reason he was chosen to be Kohein Godol. (Moshav Z'keinim)
2) Moshe told Aharon that Moshe was originally to be given the position of Kohein Godol but lost it by being reluctant to fulfill Hashem's request to be the agent to take the bnei Yisroel out of Egypt. It was then given to Aharon (Shmos 4:10, 14). Moshe told Aharon, "Why are you bashful? It is exactly for this reason, that I was bashful, that I lost the K'hunoh G'doloh" and you were chosen. (M'ga'leh Amukos)
3) Specifically because you are bashful and fearful, you were chosen. These are the character traits required of one who has the awesome task of being the Kohein Godol. (Ari z"l)
4) You were chosen to serve in the capacity of Kohein Godol coupled with the traits of bashfulness and fear. (Sfas Emes)
5) In the writings of Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal it is mentioned that each person has a specific field of serving Hashem which he is sent to this world to rectify. This is often a matter which gives the person much difficulty by virtue of an inner drive to do the opposite of what is demanded in that mitzvoh. If Aharon had great difficulty in approaching the altar to serve as Kohein Godol, it is indicative of K'hunoh G'doloh being specifically the task which was cut out for him. (Imrei Emes)
Ch. 10, v. 10, 11: "U'l'havdil bein hakodesh u'vein hachol u'vein hato'mei u'vein hatohor. L'horos es bnei Yisroel" - The gemara P'sochim 3b says that there were two students who asked their teacher, either Hillel or Rabbi Yehudoh Hanosi, the same question but expressed themselves differently. One asked, "Why don't olives have to be harvested while in a state of PURITY?" The other one asked, "Why may olives be harvested while in a state of IMPURITY?" Hillel or Rabbi Yehudoh Hanosi said that he was certain that the student who expressed himself in the more refined manner of not mentioning impurity would develop into a great halachic authority. The student who spoke in a more refined manner was either Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai (if the teacher was Hillel) or Rabbi Yochonon (if the teacher was Rabbi Yehudoh Hanosi).
The GR"A and the Kosnos Ohr both say that this is alluded to in our verse. " U'l'havdil ...... u'vein hatomei u'vein hatohor." When one differentiates in his speech between expressing himself with the word "tohor" and using the word "tomei," and elects to use the term which is more refined, this is an indication that he will become "l'horos es bnei Yisroel," a teacher of the law.
Ch. 10, v. 20: "Va'yishma Moshe va'yitav b'einov" - The M.R. 13:1 says that Moshe had an announcement proclaimed throughout the encampment that he was mistaken and his brother Aharon taught him the correct halacha. Why was it necessary to do this? Since the mistake took place among Moshe and Aharon and his sons would it not have been sufficient to state that he was mistaken to Aharon and his sons only? We clearly see from this medrash that it is all-important to teach people to admit their mistakes. If Moshe the teacher of all teachers admitted to making a mistake and had it proclaimed, all the more so when the common man makes a mistake.
The following story illustrates to what extent a great Talmid Chochom admitted to having made a mistake, one which in reality he never made. Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector zt"l, the Kovner Rov, and possibly the most prestigious halachic authority in Lithuania of his time received a question from a person living in a smaller community. This question raised the curiosity of the Kovner Rov since he knew that there was a relatively newly appointed Rov in that town who was quite capable of answering the question. He came to the conclusion that the person sending this query realised that his own Rov had responded incorrectly to this question when presented to him as an "halacha l'maa'seh" question. By writing to the Kovner Rov and receiving a response that would differ from his local Rov's answer, he would use it as ammunition to belittle his own Rov.
This sent the Kovner Rov on a challenging mental pursuit to find a likely incorrect halachic conclusion, hopefully the same incorrect conclusion which he surmised was arrived at by the Rov. After some effort the Kovner Rov felt he had found a logical incorrect answer. He immediately sent off this incorrect response by regular postal service, knowing that it would arrive in the other community a few days later. He then sent a telegram to the same person stating that he had mistakenly come to the wrong conclusion in the letter which he had sent, and was now specifically sending a telegram with the correct response, which would arrive earlier and pre-empt the wrong halachic response, avoiding anyone acting incorrectly on the strength of the Kovner Rov's earlier "wrong" conclusion.
All of this was done to protect the new Rov's honour and not have the community's trust in his rulings eroded. If the Kovner Rov could make such a mistake, surely a small community Rov could be excused.
Eventually Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon met the Rov and found that he had correctly surmised all that had happened, had correctly figured the incorrect answer, and had saved the Rov from being dishonoured.
Ch. 11, v. 7: "V'es hachazir" - The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 3:48 says that the Torah prohibited the eating of pig because it is disgusting, abominable, and is hazardous to one's health. This seems to be contrary to the Toras Kohanim 20:128 mentioned in Rashi at the end of Parshas K'doshim (20:26), which says that the reason for abstaining from eating pig should not be because one feels a repulsiveness towards swine meat, but rather, simply because Hashem prohibited its consumption. The Rambam himself acknowledges this reason in his Shmonoh P'rokim chapter 6. Any clarification of the Rambam's opinion would be appreciated. Bez"H the Rambam in Shmonoh Prokim will be dealt with in parshas K'doshim.
Rabbeinu Bachyei says that the word chazir indicates a return, that the pig will become kosher in the future. If this is so, why does chazir become nullified if mixed into 60 or more equal volumes of permissible food? We have a rule that "dovor she'yeish lo matirin afilu b'elef lo botil."
This is because only the species will become kosher, but any existent pig remains non-kosher.
Ch. 11, v.16: "Bas ha'yaanoh" - Why is the "BAS" mentioned?
1) The gemara Chulin 63a derives from this a prohibition to eat its egg as well (read BAS as beitzas Yaanoh).
2) The Baalei Hatosfos on Dvorim 14:15 say that a "bas" is mentioned because only a young one is edible, as a mature yaanoh's flesh is as dry as wood and as hard as iron. There is therefore no need to prohibit the flesh of the inedible adult.
3) The Ibn Ezra says that a "bas" is mentioned because there is no male in this species (similar to what he mentioned regarding arne'ves). This seems to be in contradiction to what the Ibn Ezra himself says in parshas Mishpotim. There he says that even in the young of the yaanoh species, only the female's flesh is edible, but not the male's, indicating that a male does exist.
Ch. 11, v. 42: "Kol ho'leich al goch*O*n" - Rashi says that this refers to a snake (Toras Kohanim 11:163) which is "ho'leich shoch v'no'feil al MAYOV." A student of the GR"A asked him why Rashi left the explanation of "GOCHON" for here and did not explain it earlier in Breishis 3:14 on the words "al G'CHONCHO seileich." He also asked why Rashi didn't use a more accurate word, "BITNO," which means belly, rather than "MAYOV," which literally means intestines and not belly.
The GR"A answered with a gemara Shabbos 104a which says that the letters of the word "SHEKER" are right next to each other in the order of the Aleph Beis. This indicates that a lie is short lived, as the truth will surely and shortly come out and refute the lie. The letters of the word "EMES" are the first, middle, and last letters of the Aleph Beis, to indicate that the truth endures permanently.
Really Rashi felt no need to translate the word "GOCHON" at all, and therefore left it out in Breishis 3:14. The word "GOCHON" contains the middle letter of the Torah. Rashi on the first word of the Torah begins with, "Omar Rebbi Yitzchok." The first letter of his commentary is an Aleph. The last word of Rashi on the Torah, "asher shibarTo," ends with the letter Tof. Rashi wanted his commentary to begin with an Aleph, have a Mem in the middle, hence he used the word "Mayov" rather than "Bitno," and end with a Tof, to spell out EMES in the beginning, middle, and end of his Torah commentary, to emulate the idea mentioned in the above gemara.
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