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Parshas Korach

Kein tarumi gam atem terumas Hashem mikol maasroseichem asher tik’chu me’eis B’nei Yisroel un’satem mimenu es terumas Hashem l’Aharon HaKohen (18:28)

The Gemora in Berachos (46a) relates that Rav Abahu once made a festive meal in order to celebrate Rav Zeira’s recovery from a serious illness. At the beginning of the meal, Rav Abahu suggested that Rav Zeira should recite the blessing over the bread in order to exempt all of those present, but Rav Zeira responded that Rav Yochanan maintains that it is proper that the host (Rav Abahu) should be the one to do so. The Gemora further relates that when the time came to recite Birkas HaMazon, Rav Abahu again attempted to honor Rav Zeira by proposing that he lead its recitation. Rav Zeira again dismissed this suggestion by noting that Rav Huna’s opinion is that the one who recited the initial blessing over the bread (Rav Abahu) should also be the one to recite the blessing at the conclusion of the meal. The Gemora explains that Rav Abahu’s logic was that the guest should lead its recitation in order to bless the host.

            The Aderes – Rav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz-Teumim – once wrote a letter to Rav Chaim Berlin, in which he questioned why the Gemora states that Rav Abahu’s reasoning was based on the Rav Zeira’s status as a guest and not on his status as a Kohen (Yerushalmi Berachos 3:1), regarding whom one fulfills a Torah obligation by honoring him to recite the blessings? He answered that a well-known Gemora in Megillah (7b) recounts that Rabbah and Rav Zeira were once celebrating and eating the festive Purim meal together, when Rabbah slaughted Rav Zeira. Even though the Gemora relates that he subsequently prayed and revived Rav Zeira, the Aderes suggested that nevertheless, his status as a Kohen ended with his natural death, and there were no longer any grounds on which to honor him as a Kohen with the recitation of the blessings.

            Rav Berlin responded by suggested that the Aderes was joking with him, as the Gemora in Sanhedrin (90b) questions how our verse could state that terumah should be given to Aharon HaKohen – who died in the wilderness and never merited to enter the land of Israel where this mitzvah was performed – and answers that the Torah is hinting that the dead will be revived in the future, at which point Aharon will receive terumah. According to the logic of the Aderes, however, the Gemora cannot be understood, as Aharon will no longer have a status as a Kohen after he previously died a natural death.

            In defense of the Aderes, whose argument seems to contradict an explicit statement of the Gemora, Rav Yaakov Chaim Sofer notes that the Ramban, in his notes on the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos (3:7), writes in explanation of a Gemora in Yoma (5b) which discusses Aharon’s service in the Beis Hamikdash in the Messianic era, that the anointment received by Aharon and his sons indeed became invalid at the time of their deaths, and they will become new people upon their revival and will require a new anointment in order to regain their status as Kohanim and serve once again in the Beis Hamikdash – and by extension, to receive and eat terumah, precisely in accord with the reasoning of the Aderes!


Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)     The Medrash (Bamidbar Rabba 18:20) explains that On ben Peles (16:1) is called On to allude to the fact that he spent all of his days in mourning (aninus) over his initial willingness to join Korach’s rebellion. Why is his name based on the term for the initial grievance period before the burial of the dead and not on the more familiar term for mourning – aveilus? (Mishmeres Ariel, Torah L’Daas Vol. 10)

2)     Korach and his assembly gathered together against Moshe and Aharon in order to protest against them (16:3). Upon hearing their complaints, Moshe immediately fell on his face (16:4). Why didn’t Aharon do the same? (Rabbeinu Bechaye)

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