Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 10   No. 29

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Dov ben Tuvia z"l
by the Glassman Family - Jerusalem - Efrat - Johannesburg - Edenvale

Parshas Acharei-Mos

Forbidden Marriages
Keeping One's Distance

"A man shall not approach his close relatives to commit adultery" (18:6).

According to the K'li Yakar, this is a warning against 'Yichud', secluding oneself with a woman whom one is not permitted to marry. And that explains why the Torah writes here ''Ish ish ... " implying one man, since two men are permitted to be alone with a woman.

The Rambam however, interprets this Pasuk differently. Quoting this Pasuk as his source, the Rambam (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 21:5) writes that a man who has relations with any of the forbidden women or who embraces or kisses them in a lewd manner, and derives pleasure from their closeness, receives Malkos (lashes) min ha'Torah. What the Torah means, he explains, is that any form of close contact with such women that leads to intimacy is forbidden, and the source for this is a Toras Kohanim, which interprets the Pasuk in question in this way, and which the Rambam takes literally.

The Ramban on the other hand, treats the Toras Kohanim as an Asmachta (an Isur de'Rabbanan with a strong hint in the Torah). According to him, ''Do not come close" is really a metaphor that refers to the actual act of intimacy itself. And he proves his point from a number of Pesukim (one of them in Devarim 22:14) "And I came close to her, but I did not find her to be a virgin" where 'coming close' has this connotation.

The Torah Temimah however, queries the Ramban's proofs, all of which do indeed use the term 'coming close', but on its own (not as part of a phrase, that might change its meaning). And the mild expression used denoting the act of intimacy is part of the policy of using refined speech that the Torah often employs.

In our Pasuk on the other hand, the Torah writes "Do not come close", but adds "to commit adultery", suggesting that ''Do not come close'' means something that leads to adultery (but which is, not in itself, adultery). And that explains why the Rambam prefers to accept the Toras Kohanim's explanation literally.

The Ramban brings a further proof that Kiruv (coming close) is not a Torah prohibition, from the Gemara in Shabbos (13b). The Gemara there implies that a Talmid-Chacham who had slept in the same bed as his wife - fully-clothed, during the final days of her Nidah-period, had transgressed only an Isur de'Rabbanan. And it quotes the Pasuk in this Parshah (18:19), which uses the same expression "Do not come close" (in connection with a Nidah).

It seems to me however, that when the Rambam added the clause 'in a lewd manner ... ', he deliberately precluded cases such as the one in Shabbos, where the Talmid-Chacham acted innocently, without any immoral thoughts.


The Torah Temimah concludes with another Toras Kohanim, which precludes 'coming close' to forbidden women from Kareis, from the extra word "ho'osos" in the Pasuk later (29) "ve'nichresu ha'Nefoshos ho'osos ... ". Clearly, if the Torah finds it necessary to preclude such a case from Kareis, he explains, then it must be an Isur d'Oraysa, and not just mi'de'Rabbanan.


The Sanctity of Marriage

Regarding the prohibition of incest, which is the predominant topic dealt with in this Parshah, the Ramban again cites the Rambam, who ascribes it to the Torah's wish that Jews adhere to a more sanctified life-style. If a man's close relatives, who live in his vicinity and with whom he has constant contact, were permitted to him, he would take advantage of their availability and 'live with them' on an ongoing basis.

So the Torah places an Isur Kareis (excision) on incest, to discourage such loose behavior. Initially, the Ramban supports the Rambam's explanation with the words of the Ibn Ezra, who says much the same, basing it on the presumption that 'man is inclined to behave like an animal (unless he is kept in check)'.

Essentially however, he considers the Rambam's reason feeble. Why, he asks, does the Torah forbid a person to marry two sisters like Ya'akov did, or his daughter, like a ben No'ach may, yet it permits him to marry a hundred, or even a thousand, wives, should he so choose?

The Seforno deals with this topic too. He begins with a question of his own, asking why the Torah forbids incest, when genetically, and from the point of view of upbringing, no union could be more appropriate, and he quotes Amram and Yocheved, whose three children serve as ample proof for this?

He explains that this would be fine if only people would marry their sisters or their daughters 'le'Shem Shamayim' (for the sake of the Mitzvah, with all that this entails). Unfortunately however, most people would not do that. Acting on their animal instincts, they would give vent to all their desires with the women with whom they grew up, and the sanctity of marriage would simply fall apart.

Maybe that is what the Rambam means, too.


Parshah Pearls

Wear and Wear Out

"And he (the Kohen Gadol) shall wash his flesh in water and wear them (u'le'veishom [the four white garments])" 16:4. The numerical value of "u'le'veishom" is 'equivalent to that of 'bolu shom' (they shall wear out there), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. Indeed, when the Avodah of Yom Kipur terminated, the Kohen Gadol would discard the four white garments, and leave them in the Azarah, never to wear them again, as indeed, the Torah will write specifically, later (16:23).


Atonement and Confession

"And Aharon shall bring the bull of his sin-offering and he shall atone (ve'chiper) for himself ... "(16:6).

The numerical value of "ve'chiper", comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, is equivalent to that of 'zeh Viduy devorim' (this is the confession), since confession on his bull was an integral part of the Avodah of Yom Kipur, just as Viduy was an integral part of every Chatas. For how can one expect an atonement before having confessed to having sinned? And by the same token, death will only atone for a person to the extent that he confesses to his sins before he dies.


Being Equal

"" ... he shall take two goats ... " (16:5).

Chazal derive from the word "sh'nei" that the two goats had to be equal. This is to ensure that the goat that will eventually go to Hashem will not be in any way inferior to the one that will go to Azazel, explains the P'ninei Torah. And of course, when they picked the goats, they did know not which one would go where.

Incidentally, the difference between the two goats was that the Sa'ir la'Hashem atoned for Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodoshav, whereas the Sa'ir la'Azazel atoned for all other sins. Both came to atone for the whole of Yisrael.

That being the case, perhaps the reason that the two goats had to be equal, was to stress the fact that Hashem placed the sin of Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav on a par with all the other sins.


Worse than Sin

"... who dwells with them even when they are tamei (when they have sinnde)" 16:16.

Yet when it comes to ga'avah (conceit), G-d declares that He cannot live together with a conceited person (conceit pushes away the legs of the Shechinah) Sotah 5a.

Clearly, conceit is worse than all the sins, observes the Besht.


The Mitzvah of Kisuy ha'Dam

"And a man from Yisrael ... who hunts a wild animal or a bird, and spills its blood (Shechts it), shall cover it with dust (17:13).

The Medrash explains that when Kayin killed Hevel, and the latter's body was lying in disgrace in the open field, wild animals and birds arrived on the scene and dug a pit, in which they buried it. And this explains why it is only the blood of wild animals whose blood is covered, but not that of domesticated animals.


The Seifer ha'Chinuch however, links the Mitzvah to cover the blood with the following Pasuk, which interconnects the living soul of an animal with its blood. The Torah therefore obligates us to cover its blood, since it would be considered insensitive to eat the flesh of an animal whilst its soul was lying exposed.

The reason that this obligation does not then extend to domestic animals, is because their blood needs to be sprinkled on the Mizbei'ach. And this was particularly relevant in the desert, at the time when this Mitzvah was given to K'lal Yisrael, it was forbidden to Shecht an animal without bringing it as a Korban.

And as for birds, even though some doves and pigeons do go on the Mizbei'ach, the vast majority of them do not, which explains why their blood needs to be covered.


And the Seforno offers a third reason for the covering of the blood. According to him, it is a matter of location, for wild animals and birds are usually caught far from residential areas, in the realm of the demons, and that is where they are slaughtered. Now if the blood was left uncovered, one would be tempted to indulge in blood orgies in the company of the demons, who lived in distant desolate areas, and whose staple diet was blood. (Bear in mind that this Parshah was being said to B'nei Yisrael shortly after they left Egypt, where they had become well-acquainted with the Demons via their contact with the Egyptians, who specialized in this sort of practice). The purpose of such orgies by the way, would be a means to find out the (immediate) future, to which the demons had access.

And that explains why it was not necessary to cover the blood of the domesticated animals that they Shechted, since these were generally located in the fields near one's home, where the demons did not commonly venture.


Earning Their Spurs

"Do not do like the deeds of the Egyptians or like the deeds of the Cana'anim" (18:3).

Now that the Torah places the deeds of the Cana'anim on a par with those of the Egyptians, on what merit did they outlive them by forty seven years (seven years before Egypt was built, and forty years after it was destroyed), asks the Chizkuni? Because, he answers, they buried Avraham in the Me'oras ha'Machpeilah.


Giving One's Children to Molech

"And do not give some of your children ... to Molech" (18:21).

The Seforno writes that sacrificing only animals to Hashem, and one's children to Molech, conveys the impression that Molech is more important than Hashem (kevayachol).

The question arises however, why the Torah inserts this Parshah here, seeing as there it has no apparent connection with the Parshah of Arayos (forbidden marriages), with which we are currently dealing? And besides, why do we need to search for additional reasons for the Torah's prohibition? Why is the fact that murder is a hineous crime (of anyone, let alone an innocent child) not sufficient?

The Kehilas Yitzchak answers both question by establishing the Pasuk by a child born from a forbidden relationship (the previous Pasuk speaks about such a relationship with a married woman). That child is a Mamzer. One might have thought that it is perhaps permitted to get rid of him so as not to increase Mamzeirim in the world. The Torah therefore teaches us here, that this child is a human being and a Jew, and it is forbidden to harm him. Indeed, Chazal have taught that, notwithstanding his lowly Yichus, 'a Mamzer Talmid-Chacham is greater than an ignorant Kohen Gadol'.

True, the Torah could have taught us the same lesson by prohibiting the child's murder, even not in the context of Molech. Only it took the opportunity of inserting the topic of Molech, which was a common practice in Cana'an, and when all's said and done, the Torah is currently listing the major evil practices of the Egyptians and Cana'anim, warning us not to go in their ways (see 18:3).


(based on the Rambam Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos Chapter 12)

The Korban Minchah
(Part III)

The Minchas Chavitin (cont.)

20. The twelve loaves were baked one by one. The Kohen Gadol would divide the three Lugin of oil in the quarter-Lug jar in the Mikdash, thereby dividing it into twelve Revi'is (quarter Lugin), one Revi'is for each loaf.

He would then bake each loaf slightly, before cooking it in the flat pan with the remainder of its Revi'is of oil. However, he would only allow it to partially boil.

21. The Kohen Gadol would then divide each loaf into two by assessment (see Ra'avad), in order to bring half the loaves in the morning and half in the afternoon (as the Torah prescribes). He folded each loaf into two and broke it into pieces, each piece with a fold in it, and he brought half of the loaves with half the fistful of Levonah that came with the Minchah in the morning. The other half, together with the remaining half-fistful of Levonah, he would bring in the afternoon. 22. In the case of a Minchas Chinuch (the Kohen's initiation Minchah), he would not divide the Minchah, but brought it all at once together with the fistful of Levonah, both of which were burned on the Mizbei'ach.


The Minchas So'les

23. For the Minchas So'les, the owner would bring an Isaron (a tenth of an Eifah) or as many Isronos as he pleased or as he undertook to bring, with the appropriate amount of oil. He would measure the Minchah in an Isaron vessel belonging to the Beis-Hamikdash. He placed the oil in a vessel and emptied the flour onto it. He then added more oil with which he mixed the flour, before pouring the mixture into a K'li Shareis and adding still more oil. The total amount of oil incorporating that which he placed initially, that which he added for mixing purposes and that which he added at the end was one Lug per Isaron of flour. At that point, he added the Levonah.


The Minchah al ha'Machavas and the Minchas Marcheshes

24. For the Minchah al ha'Machavas and the Minchas Marcheshes, the owner would place oil in a vessel, into which he then added the flour. Then he would add more oil and mix them together, before kneading them with warm water and baking them either in a flat pan or in a deep one (depending upon whichever Minchah he had undertaken to bring). He would break it into pieces, place it in a K'li Shareis, pour on it the remainder of the oil, and add the Levonah.

25. The difference between a Minchah al ha'Machavas and a Minchas Marcheshes lies in the fact that the latter was made as a soft dough. Consequently, the pan had a rim so that the dough should not spill out. Whereas the former, which was baked in a pan without a rim, had to be made in the form of a hard dough, so that it should not spill out of the pan.


The Minchas Ma'afeh Tanur

26. If the owner intended to bring loaves, he would mix the flour with oil and knead it with warm water before baking it in the oven. Once it was baked, he would break it into small pieces and place it in a K'li Shareis, adding Levonah. He did not however, add any more oil.

If on the other hand, he intended to bring wafers (like our Matzos), then he would first knead the flour with warm water, bake them, and only then anoint them with oil.

27. The anointing process was done in the following manner. The owner would bring one Lug of oil for each Isaron and proceed to anoint the wafers again and again, until he had used up all the oil.


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