subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to This Week's Parsha Archive of previous issues


APRIL 26-27, 2002 15 IYAR 5762

Pop Quiz: For which relatives who pass away may a kohen become tameh?


"And they shall not marry a woman who has been divorced from her husband" (Vayikra 21:7)

Our perashah begins with the laws pertaining to the Kohen and the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). Both the Kohen and the Kohen Gadol may not marry a divorcee. Rabbi Nissan Alpert explains what the logic might be for this prohibition. A Kohen is one who serves in the Bet Hamikdash, the Holy Temple. The Kohen's job is extremely important. He is the one who brings the offerings from the people, as well as the nation's offerings, onto the altar. A woman that was divorced might be a quarrelsome woman, which can interfere with his holy work. To be on the safe side, this divorcee should marry a non-Kohen.

The Torah forbids the Kohen Gadol to marry a widow, but allows a regular Kohen to marry a widow. Why does the Torah differentiate between a regular Kohen and a Kohen Gadol regarding the widow? It seems the Torah understood the thinking of man and woman. A married woman is used to having her husband around, when he is not at work. Some of that time can be spent together in or out of the home. A regular Kohen does not have to be in the Bet Hamikdash always. His official shift that he must be there is two days a year. A Kohen Gadol, however, is in the Bet Hamikdash constantly, doing many important duties. He can spend very little time at home. A widow is used to a lifestyle very different from this because of her previous marriage. Therefore, the Torah instructs the Kohen Gadol to marry a young girl, never married before, who never got used to a different marriage style. They will be able to live in happiness together.

I believe that this law is very relevant today, even though we do not have a Kohen Gadol or a Bet Hamikdash. We see that the Torah understands that a spouse must consider the previous lifestyle of his or her spouse. We are witnessing today a great and happy situation where many people are making progress and becoming more religious. Sometimes one spouse grows in religion more quickly than the other. One must be understanding of his or her spouse. The one who is getting more religious must have patience; after all, the other spouse was used to a different lifestyle. Similarly, the spouse who is temporarily less religious should respect the progress the other has made. Therefore, the formula is patience from one and respect from the other. In this way, eventually both will merge as one team serving Hashem together with happiness. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah

"A man who will blaspheme his G-d...and a man, if he strikes any human life...and a man who strikes an animal" (Vayikra 24:15-18)

The Torah describes someone who blasphemed the Holy Name of Hashem and his ultimate punishment of being put to death. What strikes us as highly unusual is the fact that right after that, the Torah teaches us the "regular" laws of hitting another person or even causing damage to someone else's animal. What does this have to do with blasphemy? One would assume that to curse the Name of G-d would involve someone totally demented or evil enough to stoop to the lowest level. The Torah, however, is teaching us that there is a progression for everything. If one person starts off by damaging someone's animal, he may go to injure his friend personally. If left unchecked, a person can deteriorate so rapidly that under the right circumstances, he may even blaspheme the Name of Hashem. The Gemara tells us that when the Rabbis wanted to know who stole a silver cup, one of the masters noticed someone drying his hands on the sleeve of someone else and deduced that this was the culprit, which indeed he was.

Everything we do affects us and if not corrected will lead us to another level, lower than the one we started on. On the other hand, a good act which we do will also lead us to do even better things, as it says, a misvah leads to a misvah, and a sin leads to a sin." Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka


"When you gather in the crop of the shall dwell in booths for seven days...because I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt" (Vayikra 23:39,42,43)

Why is the festival of Succot connected to both the time of crop ingathering and the dwelling in succot during the desert sojourn of the Jews?

The message of the succah is twofold: When the Jews lived in Eress Yisrael, worked the land and prospered, there was a danger lest they begin to think that it was their strength and wisdom that earned them their wealth. Consequently, when they gathered their crops, and their success brought them into a jubilant spirit, Hashem commanded that they dwell in succot in order to bring to their attention that life on this earth is temporary and that there are no strong "fortresses" that we can build for ourselves. The succah is covered with sechach, through which one can look up and see the heavens, alluding that our abodes are temporary and our security dependent on Hashem in the heaven above.

There will be times in Jewish history when they will be in exile and, G-d forbid, their trials and tribulations may cause disillusionment. Therefore, Hashem gave the Jewish people the festival of Succot, "So that your generations will know that I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt - and just as I protected them then and ultimately brought them to safety, so too, I will be with the Jewish people wherever they will be and ultimately bring them Mashiah and cause them to sit in the succah made from the skin of Livyatan." (Vedibarta Bam)


"Be very very humble" (Pirke Abot 4:4)

?? Pirke Abot is filled from beginning to end with moral lessons and advice. Yet, more emphasis ("very very") is placed on this statement than on any other. It is almost as if there is some kind of danger in being conceited or in seeking honor. Why is humility given such great importance, more than any other trait?

It is known that in this world there is no reward for misvot. Rather, the rewards are all in the next world. The reason for this is that all the benefits a person can possibly get in this world would not be enough payment for even one misvah. This is because misvot are spiritual in nature. They cannot be rewarded with material things, because the payment would not correspond to the deed. However, if one receives honor for a misvah, he is getting some compensation for his deed, since honor is spiritual in nature. This is what this Mishnah is warning us about. If someone seeks honor and receives it, he is using up his merits for which he was to be rewarded in the World to Come. One should be exceedingly humble and run away from honor, because he has no idea how much of his future reward he may be using up for a fleeting moment of praise and honor. (Hafess Hayim al HaTorah)


This week's Haftarah: Yehezkel 44:15-31.

Our perashah discusses many laws regarding Kohanim. In the haftarah, the prophet Yehezkel also tells many laws that will pertain to the Kohanim in the times of the Mashiah, such as the clothes they will wear, the women they may marry, and the gifts (terumah, bikurim, etc.) they will receive from the people.

Answer to pop quiz: His mother, father, brother, unmarried sister, son, daughter and wife.

Please preserve the sanctity of this bulletin. It contains words of
Torah and should be treated with respect.
Past issues of this bulletin are available on the Internet courtesy of the
Shema Yisrael Torah Network. To view them or to see many other Torah items, please go to their site.
Other Torah e-mail you may enjoy:
send e-mail to and put in the message:
subscribe aram-soba

Please pass this bulletin along to a friend. You may subscribe to
this bulletin by sending e-mail to
and putting in the message: subscribe jersey-shore.
To unsubscribe, send the message 'unsubscribe jersey-shore' to

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