CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS EMOR 5766 - BS"D
1) Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto .. kodosh yi'h'yeh loch" - Rashi (gemara Gitin
59b) says that we sanctify the Kohein by giving him the first turn and
honouring him to lead the grace after meals.
These days those whom we consider as Kohanim are people who have had this
status from generation to generation, i.e. the previous generation tells us that
the fathers of today's Kohanim received the first "aliyoh," that they
"duchaned," gave the priestly benediction, etc.
If a complete stranger comes to a community and claims that he is a Kohein,
do we believe him? If yes, to what extent?
2) Ch. 21, v. 10: "V'haKohein hagodol mei'echov asher yutzak al rosho shemen
hamish'choh u'mi'lei es yodo lilbosh es habgodim es rosho lo yifro u'v'godov
lo yifrome" - Couldn't the verse have left out the words "asher yutzak al rosho
shemen hamish'choh u'mi'lei es yodo lilbosh es habgodim" and simply have
stated that the Kohein Godol should not let his hair be unkempt and should not
rent his garments as signs of mourning?
3) Ch. 21, v. 19: "Shever regel o shever yad" - If the Kohein has a bone
fracture in his leg or hand he is disqualified from serving. Similarly if the
sacrifice has a bone fracture it is disqualified as mentioned in 22:22. Why does
our verse describe the fracture as "shever regel o shever yad" and in verse 22
4) Ch. 23, v. 13: "U'minchoso shnei esronim so'les" - we say in the "musof"
prayers of Yom Tov, "U'minchosom v'niskeihem kimdubor - And their meal
offerings and libations as is stated, shloshoh esronim lapor, u'shnei esronim lo'oyil,
v'isorone la'keves, - three tens (of an eifoh) for an ox, two tenths for a
ram, and a tenth for a lamb," clearly detailing the volume of flour for each
type of animal, while regarding the libation of wine we say, "v'ya'yin k'nisko, -
and wine as is appropriate for its libation" without itemizing the different
volumes for an ox, ram, and lamb?
5) Ch 24, v. 12: "Lifrosh lohem al pi Hashem" - Rashi says that the incident
of the blasphemous son of Shlomis bas Divri and that of Tz'lofchod took place
in the same period of time. However, the two cases differed in that by
Tz'lofchod the court knew that he was deserving of death, but not which of the four
types of death administered by the court, as the verse says (Bmidbar 15:34),
"ki lo forash mah yei'o'seh lo." In contrast, by the blasphemer, they didn't
even know if he was deserving of death (T.K. 24:237), as it says here, "lifrosh
(We find the same words, "mah yei'o'seh lo," by the incident of Moshe being
cast into the "suf" where his sister Miriam stood at a distance to find out
"mah yei'o'seh lo." We can similarly interpret this to mean that she knew that
he would definitely be saved, but stood and watched to see what form of rescue
would take place.) Why didn't they know that he was culpable of the death
penalty? Since one receives the death penalty for cursing his father or mother,
surely for doing so to Hashem one deserves death as well.
Answer to questions on parshios Acha'rei Mose-K'doshim:
1) Ch. 16, v. 6: "V'chi'peir baado u'v'ad beiso" -Since a Kohein Godol must
marry a woman under the age of twelve and a half years old as per the gemara
Y'vomos 59a, and the gemara Shabbos 89b says that one is not punished under the
age of twenty years, how then is there a fulfillment of "u'v'ad beiso"
according to Rabbi Yehudoh (first mishnoh in Yoma, 2a) who says that the Kohein Godol
must marry an extra wife just before Yom Kippur?
The Sfas Emes's son-in-law, Rabbi Yaakov Biderman zt"l Hy"d, asks this
1) The Imrei Emes answers that there is a need for atonement for "bitul
mitzvas assei" even though there is no punishment.
2) The GR"A says that there is punishment after the age of twenty. (Oros
3) Perhaps, there is a need for atonement to cleanse the soul of sin, even
if there is no punishment. (Nirreh li)
The gemara Shabbos 89b that says that one is not punished under the age of
twenty years is explained in responsa of the Chacham Zvi #49, who offers four
explanations. See also the responsa Nodah Bihudoh Tinyonoh Y.D. #164 and the
responsa Chasam Sofer Y.D. #155. See also Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. #343, hagohoh.
2) Ch. 17, v. 13: "Asher yei'o'cheil" - Rashi quotes the Toras Kohanim 17:112
which says that this excludes the slaughtering of a non-kosher species of
animal from the requirement to have its blood covered by sand, called "kisuy
hadam," since it may not be eaten. Why not exclude a kosher species that became
treifoh when ritually slaughtered?
1) Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura answers that since Rabbi Meir (gemara Chulin
85a) is of the opinion that an improper ritual slaughtering is still
halachically considered slaughtering for other matters (i.e. to be responsible to pay 4
or 5 times a sheep's or an ox's value after theft or to transgress "oso v'es
b'no"), the treifoh would also need "kisuy hadam." The T.K. gives us an
2) The Sifsei Chachomim answers that we find the words "v'shofach es domo"
here and in 17:4. Just as there it refers to an improper slaughtering, likewise
here it means the same. Yet, the Torah still requires "kisuy hadam." We are
only left with the case of a non-kosher species to be excluded from the words
3) Ch. 18, v. 28: "V'lo soki ho'oretz es'chem b'tamaachem osoh kaa'sher ko'oh
es hagoy" - The verse seems to contradict itself by saying that you will NOT
be expelled when you DO contaminate the land.
A number of interpretations:
You will not be treated as the heathen nations who have occupied this land
before you and have been ejected, but rather:
1) Not only will you be expelled, but you will also suffer the punishment of
excision, "ko'reis," as stated in verse 29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos ho'osos."
(Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi)
2) If you fulfill the words of verse 26, "ushmartem .. v'lo saasu," then you
will be saved from punishment. Translate "V'lo" as LEST. (Rabbeinu Elyokim)
3) You will also be expelled, but in a manner which will be more severe than
the expulsion of the heathen nations. (Rivo)
4) They have only been expelled, but did not suffer the punishment of
"ko'reis." You, however, will not be expelled, but will be punished with "ko'reis."
5) The Toras Kohanim 20:123 (mentioned in Rashi) compares sinning in E.Y. to
a prince who had a sensitive digestive system, as he was used to only the
finest of foods and delicacies. Any coarse alimentation would upset his system.
Similarly, E.Y. is very sensitive to sins. Those who sin would be expelled.
The Meshech Chochmoh says in the name of his father that according to the above
parable, if the prince continued to eat coarse food he would eventually grow
accustomed to it and would successfully digest it. Likewise, if E.Y. would
ch"v be subject to continuous sinning, it would also not become as sensitive.
This can be the meaning of our verse. The land will NOT vomit you even though
you defile it, as it has expelled the previous occupants of the land. At
that time the land was still sensitive. However, it has unfortunately become
accustomed to the sins, and instead your punishment will be excision, as per verse
29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos." I believe that this interpretation fits in best
with the 4th explanation offered above by the earlier commentators.
4) Ch. 19, v. 11: "Lo tignovU" - This verse refers to the prohibition of
stealing property while the verses in Shmos 20:13 and Dvorim 5:17 refer to the
prohibition of kidnapping as explained in the gemara B.M. 61a. Why does our verse
express itself in the plural form "Lo tignovU," while the verses referring to
kidnapping in the singular form, "Lo signove?"
1) The Ibn Ezra answers that one who keeps quiet about the theft of property
is considered an accomplice in the crime, hence the plural expression. This
requires clarification since the same can be said about one who knows of a
kidnapping and remains silent can also be considered an accomplice. Perhaps
because of the severity of the punishment for kidnapping and selling, the death
penalty, it is very unusual to have a witness to the crime, while common theft
sometimes takes place even when there is an onlooker.
2) The Noam Hamitzvos answers that the person who knowingly purchases stolen
goods is an accomplice in the crime.
3) The Ponim Yofos answers that the ruling that two or more people
committing a kidnapping and selling of the person are not culpable to receive the death
penalty is derived from the use of the singular form "lo signove" in the
prohibition. However, when two or more people steal property they are all
responsible. This is why the Torah expresses this prohibition in the plural form "lo
4) Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz answers that once one person has stolen, he has
opened the floodgates for others to steal, as explained in the gemara Brochos
5) He offers a second answer. Since our parshas deals with the concept of
sanctifying oneself even in the realm of that which is permitted, as explained
by the Ramban in the beginning of our parsha, the Torah is telling us that even
if one has not committed outright theft, as in the case of stealing property
that has the value of less than a "prutoh," he should refrain from doing so.
The Torah therefore expresses this in the plural form to tell us that even if
the value of the stolen property is a "prutoh" only by virtue of numerous
people taking fractions of a "prutoh," it should still not be done. Indeed, the
Talmud Yerushalmi B.M. 4:2 says that this was a sin that the generation of the
great deluge was guilty.
6) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that even if the victim of the robbery
finds out who the thief is, he should not respond by stealing an object from
the robber to compensate for the theft.
7) The Shiltos of Rabbi Hai Gaon on parshas Noach #4 derives from the gemara
B.M. 61b that the prohibition of our verse even applies to a case where the
robber has no intention to keep the stolen object, and has stolen only to
aggravate the victim. The Toras Chaim in his commentary on the gemara says that
this is derived from the use of the plural form in our verse. It is logical to
assume that the person who has stolen only with the intent to cause aggravation
and plans to return the object at a later time will surely let an outsider
know of his plans. Otherwise, if he is either caught in the act or if the stolen
object is found on his premises, he will be suspected of committing a
full-fledged robbery. The outsider is considered an accomplice in the crime.
5) Ch. 19, v. 18: "Lo sikome v'lo sitore" - This is the prohibition against
either taking revenge or harbouring hatred towards one's fellow man in his
heart. The gemara Yoma 23a says that any Torah scholar who does not take revenge
and does not harbour hatred towards one who has wronged him, "as a snake does,"
is not a true Torah scholar. Is a Torah scholar exempt from these two
Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz answers that the key words in this statement are "as
a snake does." The gemara Arochin 15b says that although a snake bites and
causes much damage with its venom, all that it eats tastes like sand and it
derives no pleasure from its food. This is what the gemara Yoma means. Although it
is prohibited to take revenge, this is only because doing so usually entails
not only reacted to someone's wrongdoing, but also one derives personal
pleasure from seeing the wrongdoer suffer from the act of revenge. A Torah scholar
is capable of reacting while only having the sake of the honour of the Torah he
represents being uplifted in mind. He takes revenge and bites "as a snake
does," not deriving an iota of personal gratification from the act.
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