by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS SHMOS - BS"D
The MESHECH CHOCHMOH in parshas Acha'rei explains the words of our Yom Kippur prayer "ki Atoh Solchon l'Yisroel u'Mocholon l'shivtei Yeshurun." He says that besides our asking for individual atonement for our own personal sins, we ask Hashem for forgiveness for two communal sins, the sin of the golden calf, a sin between man and Hashem, and the sin of the sale of Yoseif, a sin between man and his fellow man. Thus we say that You Hashem are the SOLCHON, Forgiver, to the bnei Yisroel, referring to the sin of the golden calf, where we find the term "Va'yomeir Hashem SOLACHTI kidvo'recho" (Bmidbar 14:20).
In regard to requesting Hashem for forgiveness for the sale of Yoseif we say "u'MOCHOLON l'SHIVTEI Yeshurun." This is a most unusual term to use for the bnei Yisroel. However, it is well understood if refering to the bnei Yisroel in regard to the lingering shadow of the sin of selling Yoseif, which was done by the tribal ancestors, SHIVTEI YESHURUN.
He goes on to explain that this concept of the two communal sins carries through to other matters. The gemara R.H. 26a says that the reason the Kohein Godol does not wear his normal eight priestly garments when he enters the Holy of Holies to beseech atonement is because the set of eight garments include the material gold, a stark reminder of the gold used for greating the golden calf. We have a rule that "ein ka'teigor naa'seh sa'neigor," - a prosecutor may not become a defender. Gold indicts the bnei Yisroel, so it is inappropriate to wear it when entreating Hashem for forgiveness for the sin of the golden calf. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH adds that likewise it is inappropriate for him to wear the set of eight garments, which includes the Choshen that carries upon it the names of all the tribes, since we are also requesting atonement for the sale of Yoseif, which was perpetrated by his brothers, the tribal ancestors.
He says that this also explains why the holiest service of atonement, the offering of the incense in the Holy of Holies is brought specifically there. Besides the obvious that it is appropriate to have the holiest person do the holiest service on the holiest day of the year in the holiest location on earth, he says that since we are requesting of Hashem to forgive us the sin of selling Yoseif, it requires taking place in the tribal portion of Binyomin, who was not a partner in this crime. The Holy of Holies is in the tribal portion of Binyomin.
He continues by saying that once the kingdom was split with a king of Yehudoh and a king of the north, the Urim and Tumim were no longer consulted for Divine guidance. This is because the Choshen contains the names of the tribes. Once the tribes were not unified, as the kingdom split, it was inappropriate to use the Choshen, which embodies the concept of the unity of the tribes.
The words of Rashi mentioned earlier are now very well understood with the insight of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH. The Choshen symbolizes the unity of the tribes. The older brothers were jealous of their younger brother Yoseif when he claimed that he had received a prophecy by way of dreams that he would become a king. This was the antithesis of the Choshen. Aharon, on the other hand, displayed the opposite reaction. Hashem testified that when Aharon would meet Moshe who would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, chosen over his older brother, nevertheless, he would feel only true hapiness in his heart, the opposite reaction to that of the brothers of Yoseif, he deserved to have the Choshen with the names of all the tribes, indicating unity without jealousy, upon his heart.
Perhaps with the above, we can now understand a most perplexing Toras Kohanim at the beginning of parshas Shmini. During the dedication ceremony for the inauguration of the Mishkon Aharon brought sacrifices to atone for himself and the nation. The Toras Kohanim says that the sacrifices that Aharon brought to atone for himself were only for the sin of later, the golden calf, in which he took part, but the sacrifices brought for the bnei Yisroel were to atone for both the beginning, the sale of Yoseif, as we find that the bnei Yisroel required a "s'ir izim," a goat as an atonement, just as we find a "s'ir izim" in the sale of Yoseif (Breishis 37:31), as well as for later, the sin of the golden calf. These words are most puzzling. Aharon was a descendant of Levi, who along with Shimon took a most pivitol part in the sale of Yoseif, actually wanting to have him killed. How then was Aharon not in need of atonement for the sale of Yoseif more than any of the other bnei Yisroel? According to the above it is well understood. Although the tribe of Levi required atonement for the sale of Yoseif, Aharon personally did not. By displaying an attitude of total happiness that his younger brother Moshe would become the leader of the bnei Yisroel, Aharon by action rather than by sacrifice corrected this flaw, hence he did not require a sacrificial atonement. This might also explain why Hashem gave Moshe the prestigious position of Kohein Godol for the eight days of the dedication of the Mishkon, starting a full week ahead of Aharon's becoming a Kohein Godol. This too might have been a test to see if Aharon would be jealous of his younger brother. He obviously wasn't jealous, as we see that when he finally had the status of a Kohein Godol on the eighth day he was still reluctant to act in the capacity of Kohein Godol, as indicated by the words "Va'yomeir Moshe el Aharon 'krav el hamizbei'ach'" (Vayikroh 9:7).
We now have a new insight into the two exceptions to the prohibition of "shaatnez." The Torah in Vayikroh 19:19 and Dvorim 22:11 prohibits the wearing of a garment that has in it a mixture of wool and linen. The Torah relates (Breishis 4:2-8) that Kayin killed Hevel when Kayin's sacrifice was not accepted by Hashem while Hevel's was. The Yalkut Shimoni remez #35 says that because Kayin brought linen as his sacrifice (verse 3) and Hevel brought sheep (verse 4) Hashem ordained that linen and wool should not be worn in one garment. Yet we find that the Torah permits the wearing of "shaatnez" in two circumstances. One is when a person has a four-cornered linen garment. He has a mitzvoh to attach fringes that are threads of wool that are dyed with the blood of a creature called a "chilozon" (Dvorim 22:12). This coloured thread is called "t'cheiles" (Bmidbar 15:38). The other case is the Kohein Godol (all Kohanim according to one opinion in gemara Yoma 12b) being required to wear garment(s) of linen and wool mixture during his/their service in the Beis Hamikdosh.
Following through with the line of thought offered by the MESHECH CHOCHMOH it seems appropriate to say that since the source for the prohibition of wearing "shaatnez" is the hatred and jealousy of an older brother, Kayin, towards his younger brother, Hevel, wearing the blue thread of wool on a four-cornered linen garment is permitted. The gemara M'nochos 43b says that the colour of the "t'cheiles" thread reminds one of the colour of the sea, and in turn of the heavens, and in turn the "throne of glory" of Hashem. This throne has four faces, two of which are that of the king of undomesticated animals, the lion, and the king of domesticated animals, the ox. A lion is symbolic of Yehudoh, as per Breishis 49:9. An ox is symbolic of Yoseif, as per Dvorim 33:17. We find the lion and ox coexisting peacefully on Hashem's throne. This symbolizes that Yehudoh, the tribe that has rightful claim to the kingship of the bnei Yisroel, is at peace with Yoseif who received a prophecy that he would lord over his brothers. Since the wool thread reminds us of peace among the brothers, with the older one not being jealous of the younger one, in this instance "shaatnez" is permitted.
As well, since Aharon cleansed himself of the sin of being jealous of a younger brother rising above him to a position of stature, he and all future Kohanim G'dolim were also permitted to wear "shaatnez" when they perform service in the Mikdosh.
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