Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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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 as "shovur?"

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 lohem."

(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 question.

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 haGR"A)

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 undisputed case.

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 "asher yei'o'cheil."

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." (Baalei Hatosfos)

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 tignovu."

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 5b.

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 prohibitions?

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.



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

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