by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHMINI 5771 BS"D
Ch. 10, v. 3: "Va'yidom Aharon" - And Aharon remained mute - Rabbi Amrom Blum was the Rav of a congregation in the American mid-west. He once came to the Holy Admor of Satmar zt"l and poured out his heart to him. He said that there were people in the community who openly embarrassed him and even did this as a group. The Holy Admor cited the statement of Rabbi Meir in Pirkei Ovos chapter six, "Whoever toils in Torah for its sake merits many things. Not only that but …… and the masses benefit from him wise counsel …… and he is forgiving for the embarrassment he receives." The Holy Admor says that we see from here that even though the public receives numerous benefits from him he can at the same time be subject to great embarrassment. Yet, the statement ends with, "And he is forgiving for his embarrassment." We see from this that even though the shame is unjustified one should just forgive, forgive, and forgive. (Olomos Shechorvu)
Ch. 10, v. 16: "Dorosh dorash" - He surely investigated - The gemara Kidushin 30a tells us that these two words are the centre point of the Torah's words. Meseches Sofrim 9:2 says that the word "dorosh" must appear as the last word on the line in a Sefer Torah, and the following word "dorash" must be placed as the first word on the following line. Commentators have been very perplexed over this statement, as a count of all the words of the Torah yields approximately 900 words more in the first half. Rabbi Yaakov Shur, Raava"d of Kitov, in his sefer Mishnas Rebbi Yaakov says that he counted the words of the Torah and found that they totaled 79,980. Half of this is 39,990. "Dorosh" should be the 39,990th word, but in reality it is the 40,921st word. This presents another problem as well. Since "dorosh" is the 40,921st word it is the middle word of a total of an odd number of words in the Torah. If so, we cannot have "dorosh" as the end of the first half and "dorash" as the beginning of the second half.
In a previous edition the words of MRVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l were brought. He counted the words and found that there were approximately nine hundred more words in the first half than in the second half.
In an attempt to answer this, he applied a rule of the cantillations (trup). One particular trup called "makaf" does not create any audible difference. It serves to indicate that two words are conceptually connected. Some say that the "makaf" makes the two words surrounding it as one word, although there must be a letter space left between them for the kashrus of the Sefer Torah. He counted once again using this rule, and it narrowed down the discrepancy greatly, bringing the difference down to less than three hundred words. Although the count is still off by quite a bit, he added that since we do not have a clear knowledge of all the trup signs, possibly there are another almost three hundred more "makafim" in the first half of the Torah.
I came across a very innovative answer in the name of Rabbi Silver zt"l, known as the Russians' Rabbi. He was a mathematician as well. He suggests that the intention of the gemara is not that these are the middle words in the count of words in the Torah, but rather, the middle of a set of double expression words, as will be explained. There are numerous times where the Torah stresses something by doubling the word form consecutively, such as "go'o go'oh" of Shiras Ha'yam. If we take all these doublings and count them we will find that there are an odd number of them and the middle expression is our "dorosh dorash." We do not count in this list words that are phonetically the same but have a different meaning one from the other. I unfortunately do not have the list at hand to redact it here.
Ch. 11, v. 13: "Ho'oznioh" - The Chizkuni writes that this name is indicative of this bird's characteristic, that it is "Az," tough and sharp. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Orbach asked, "If so, why doesn't the mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos say that one should be "az ka'oznioh" rather than "ka'nemer?" He answers that for the bird it is an external trait, not truly the essence of the bird, while for the leopard it is an internal trait. To be honest, I don't grasp his answer.
Possibly we can offer that there are all sorts of traits, and of course, they should all be used, but in varying amounts, and most importantly, only in the proper situation. Even a small measure of haughtiness is in place, "shminis sheb'shminis." Since the audacity, "azus," of the bird is in its name, it is indicative of an all pervasive trait of "azus" displayed all the time. This sort of "azus" is definitely not recommended by the Tana in Pirkei Ovos. (n.l.)
Ch. 11, v. 29: "Basheretz" - Among the crawling creatures - In an early edition of parshas Breishis this question was raised: For what purpose did Hashem create "shrotzim?" a number of answers were offered. The gemara Yerushalmi Brochos chapter Horo'eh says that they serve no intrinsic purpose, but when the bnei Yisroel ch"v sin Hashem says, "I have created useless 'shrotzim' and yet I maintain them. Surely, even if the bnei Yisroel sin I will maintain them."
This is an insight into why the ministers of Plishtim fashioned golden forms of rats, indicating that no matter how badly they will sin, they will be left to live. This is also an insight into how it came about that when Naamon came to Elisha to be healed, Elisha was learning chapter "shmonoh shrotzim" (gemara Sanhedrin 107b). (Nishmas Kol Chai)
Ch. 11, v. 30: "V'hatinsho'mes" - And the mole - We have here a list of eight creatures that impart impurity on contact when they are dead. Why aren't the snake and the scorpion, two deadly creatures not added to this list? Why is it that they impart no impurity? Rabbeinu Bachyei answers that since they are poisonous and a danger to mankind, had the Torah ruled that when they are dead they impart impurity, many people would refrain from killing them. Hashem did not want people to be discouraged from removing this menace, so they do not make people impure when they are dead.
Ch. 11, v. 33: "V'chol kli che'res …… v'oso sishboru" - And any earthenware vessel …… and it shall you break - If an earthenware vessel contracts impurity it cannot be purified by immersing it into a mikveh. It must be broken. Earthenware vessels only contract impurity when there is a source of impurity that affects its insides. There is no impurity through contact on its outside. A metal vessel can contract impurity either on its inside or outside. The reason for this difference is that an earthenware vessel is made of sand, which has no intrinsic value. Its only value is its ability to contain. Its outside is rough and aesthetically not pleasing. A metal vessel contracts impurity through its inside or outside because its metallic makeup gives it value. It likewise can be purified in a mikveh.
Man is like the earthenware vessel. He is made of sand, "Odom y'sodo mei'ofor." His value is his insides, what he contains. If he ch"v becomes internally defiled his only rectification is through breaking, breaking his heart, as per the verse, "Leiv nishbor v'nidkeh Elokim lo sivzeh" (T'hilim 51:19). (Holy Admor of Kotzk in a manner of drush)
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