Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


1) Ch. 21, v. 1,2: "Lisheiro, L'imo ul'oviv" - To his wife, To his mother and to his father - In the Haftorah, Yechezkeil likewise mentions the exception of the Kohein's defiling himself for his relatives, but leaves out the Kohein's wife (44:25). Why?

2) Ch. 21, v. 5,6: "Lo yik'r'chu korchoh b'roshom, K'doshim yi'h'yu" - They shall not rip out hair of their head, Holy they shall be - The prohibition of verse 5 applies to non-Kohanim as well, so why does the Torah place it in the middle of numerous Kohein targeted laws?

3) Ch. 21, v. 12: "U'min haMikdosh lo yeitzei" - The Rambam in hilchos klei haMikdosh 5:7 writes that the Kohein Godol's home must be in Yerusholayim and he may not leave the city. The Minchas Chinuch and others are hard-pressed to find a source for this ruling. What source is there for the Rambam?

4) Ch. 21, v. 14: "Ki im b'suloh mei'amov yikach ishoh" - A regular Kohein may marry a non-virgin. Why is there this added stringency for a Kohein Godol?

5) Ch. 23, v. 16: "Tis'p'ru CHAMISHIM yom" - We know from the words "Sheva Shabbosos" in verse 15 that the total number of days to be counted from the day of bringing the Omer sacrifice is 49 days. Yet our verse says 50 days. How do we resolve this?



This can be explained by noting that the Prophet Yechezkeil who was a Kohein, was told that he would not mourn his wife's death, "Hin'ni lokei'ach mimcho es machmad ei'necho b'ma'geifoh v'lo sispode v'lo sivkeh v'lo sovo dimo'secho," - Behold I take from you the lust of your eyes in a plague and you will not eulogize nor cry nor shed a tear. This refers to his wife. When there is no requirement to mourn, as is the case here by virtue of a directive from Hashem, there is no permission to defile oneself, hence Yechezkeil left out one's wife because of his personal experience. (Rogatchover Gaon)


The priests of other religions groomed themselves differently from the common folk. This gave then a visual uniqueness, separating them from laity. The most common practice was to shave their heads, remove their sideburns, or shave areas of their beard. Hashem tells the Kohanim that they should be elevated above the common man, not through externals, such as hairstyle, but rather through a meaningful internal sanctity, their behaviour. "K'doshim yi'h'yu lEilokeihem v'lo y'chal'lu shem Elokeihem." (Mahari"l Diskin)


The Tzofnas Paa'nei'ach, the Margolis Ha'yom, and the Gri"z find a source for the Rambam in the mishnoh brought in Sanhedrin 18a. The mishnoh explains how the Kohein Godol follows the bier of a deceased relative. To remain a safe distance from the deceased so as to avoid becoming defiled, the mishnoh says that he must remain behind the procession in a manner that the bier of the deceased is always out of his line of vision. This is so until the opening of the gate of Jerusalem. Why does the mishnoh stop detailing the Kohein Godol's manner of following at the gate of the city? It seems from here that he may not go any further. Although the mishnoh mentions the opinion of Rabbi Yehudoh that the Kohein Godol does not leave the Mikdosh campus at all and the Rambam rules according to Rabbi Yehudoh in 5:5, nevertheless, the point indicated by the mishnoh not mentioning the Kohein Godol's progress beyond the city walls, indicating that he may go no further, which is irrelevant to their disagreement, is not under dispute.

Perhaps another source for the Rambam might be that since the Kohein Godol must offer a daily Minchas Chavitin, this might require his remaining in Yerusholayim all day and overnight, as is the case with all who offer a sacrifice who come to Yerusholayim. Since this is a daily requirement he must remain in Yerusholayim for the rest of his life, as long as he is still a Kohein Godol.


The Moshav Z'keinim says that the reason the Torah prohibited a Kohein Godol from marrying a widow, who is allowed to a regular Kohein, is because if he were allowed to marry a widow there is a fear that when he is doing the service of the incense on Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies, where his entreaties are readily fulfilled by Hashem, he might pray that the husband of a woman in whom he is interested in marrying, should die. This is a most startling "chidush," as he is involved in such holy service on the holiest day of the year in the holiest location in the world. As well, he is not assured that the woman who might be widowed would agree to become his wife. We see from the words of the Moshav Z'keinim that in spite of all this, there is a fear of his having such matters on his mind. This might be a new insight into why we read the parsha of forbidden marriage partners during the "minchoh" prayers of Yom Kippur.


Rashi resolves this in two manners, either by saying that we read this as "Sheva Shabbosos t'mimose ti'h'yenoh, ad mimochoros haShabbos hashviis tis'p'ru, - Seven full weeks they shall be, UNTIL the morning of the completion of the seventh week shall you count," and then we read, "chamishim yom v'hikravtem minchoh chadoshoh, - on the FIFTIETH day you shall bring a meal offering of the new crop." According to this interpretation the word CHAMISHIM is ORDINAL and not CARDINAL.

Rashi offers a second interpretation. "AD mimochoros haShabbos hashviis tis'p'ru, - UNTIL (and not including) the morning after the seventh week you shall count. "Chamishim yom, - with that day (that you don't count) you have fifty days." The words CHAMISHIM YOM are dangling, "mikro m'soros," as if they would appear right after the word "hashviis," describing it as day number fifty. Rashi prefers this explanation because it leaves the word CHAMISHIM in the CARDINAL form.

However, the Rosh in his commentary on the final chapter of the gemara P'sochim says that it is common for the Torah to round off an amount which ends with a nine to the next ten. Thus the intention of fifty days is actually 49 days. Similarly, he says that this explains the total of "Kol nefesh l'veis Yaakov habo'oh Mitraymoh SHIVIM" (Breishis 46:27), while in reality there were only 69 people who descended to Egypt. As well, the Torah says "ARBO'IM ya'kenu" (Dvorim 25:3), while in reality only 39 lashes are administered.



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

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