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

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Vol. 17   No. 28

This issue is sponsored
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Rivka bas Yosef a"h
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Parshas Acharei-Kedoshim

The Four Linen Garments
(Adapted mainly from Rabeinu Bachye)

"A linen shirt he shall wear, and linen pants shall be on his flesh; he shall gird himself with a linen belt and cover his head with a linen turban" (16:4).


In practice, the Ha'amek Davar points out, the Kohen Gadol (as well as the Kohen) first put on the pants. So what the Pasuk therefore means is that when he puts on the shirt, he shall already be wearing the pants. And the reason that the Torah mentions the shirt first, he explains, is due the fact that it covered a larger section of the body, rendering it more holy. Much in the same way as a Sefer-Torah is holier than a Tefilin, and Tefilin in turn, are holier than a Mezuzah.


Notice how the Torah repeats the word 'linen' ("Bad") four times. R. Bachye citing the Toras Kohanim, explains that this is in order to specifically preclude each of the other four garments of the Kohen Gadol (the Choshen, the Eifod, the Me'il and the Tzitz) from the two occasions when Aharon entered the Kodesh Kodshim on Yom Kipur. As is well-known, the reason for this is based on the fact that each of these four garments contained gold, and due to the principle 'A prosecutor (in this case, gold, from which the Golden Calf was manufactured) cannot serve as a defense counsel', he was forbidden to wear them when performing the Avodah in the Kodesh Kodshim.

And we need to specifically preclude them, says R. Bachye, because by each of the 'golden garments', the Torah writes "before Hashem" (See Tetzaveh 28:29. 28:12, 29:35 & 28:38), which would have otherwise rendered them particularly apt to be worn there.


When the Kohen Gadol serves with the four garments in the Kodesh Kodshim, says R, Bachye, he resembles the Four Camps of the Shechinah who serve G-d on high, or the Four Holy Chayos, each with four faces and four wings.

Alternatively, he explains, the Torah writes "Bigdei Kodesh heim" (as opposed to "Begodim Kedoshim heim"), in keeping with the Medrash, which explains that the service in the Beis-Hamikdash below resembles the service in the Beis-Hamikdash above, where the angel "wearing linen garments" (alias Micha'el [see footnote]) serves.


'Linen', R. Bachye adds, hints at three wondrous concepts; It hints at humility by virtue of the fact that (as opposed to wool, which comes from an animal) it grows from the ground; It hints at unity by virtue of its name 'Bad' (like its derivative 'l'vad' [alone]) and by the fact that it grows in the form of one stalk (as Rashi explains in detail in Yuma, Daf 73b), and because it cannot be split in the way that wool can; and it hints at purity by virtue of its colour - white, which symbolizes purity.


The Gematriyah of 'Bad' is six, which hints at the Midah of the Kohen - Yesod, which is the sixth Midah (which connects Tif'eres and Malchus), which is also embodied in the two Keruvim in the Kodesh Kodshim.


Finally, the author explains how the garments of the Kohen Gadol correspond to the three sections of the body, which correspond in turn to the three parts of the creation - this world, the world of the luminaries, and the world of the angels (which we have discussed many times). The pants, which reached from the thigh down to the feet, corresponded to this world (the lower world), the belt to the middle world of the luminaries, and the turban, to the upper world of the angels. (It is not clear however, how R. Bachye explains the linen shirt in this context.)

Consequently, R. Bachye concludes, when the Kohen Gadol got dressed for the Avodah on Yom-Kipur, he attuned his thoughts to sanctifying himself, starting with the pants and moving up through the world of the luminaries to the world of the angels, and of then bringing the sanctity from that world down to this world. This explains, says R. Bachye, why the Pasuk begins with "Kodesh" ("Kesones bad Kodesh yilbash") and ends with "Kodesh" ("Bigdei Kodesh heim").

* * *

Parshas Pearls

Acharei Mos
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Trying to Attain the Unattainable

" after the death of the two sons of Aharon, when they came (too) close (be'korvosom) to G-d and they died" (16:1). Rabeinu Bachye warns against pursuing knowledge that is not meant for human consumption (such as trying to understand the essence of G-d and the existence before the world was created). That is why the Pasuk in Mishlei (23:1), warns a person to know the limits of understanding when studying Torah. And as is well-known, someone who does not heed this warning and tries to delve into areas of knowledge that are out of bounds is heading for disaster, as the Pasuk in Koheles (7:16) clearly states.

And that is precisely what Nadav and Avinu were guilty of doing, when at Har Sinai, they tried to "see Hashem" and tried to ascend to levels that were unattainable, in spite of Moshe's warning "And the Kohanim and the people shall not break through to Hashem to see". That is why G-d decreed there and then that they should die, and that is why the Torah writes here " when they came (too) close to G-d, and they died". A little later, the author describes their sin as 'gazing at the Shechinah'.

Citing the Ramban's interpretation of the Pasuk, the author explains that the sons of Aharon died 'whilst they were serving G-d'. In that case, he asks, the Torah ought to have written "be'hakrivom"? "be'korvosom" implies that they had to die because they came too close, as he explained.

And that is what the Torah means when it writes there (in Parshas Mishpatim (24:11) "And against the great men of Yisrael He did not stretch out His Hand", implying that they ought to have been cut down on the spot, but He postponed their punishment in order not to disturb the Simchah of Matan Torah, as Rashi explains there (only Rashi interprets the sin differently).


The Two Sins


Rabeinu Bachye just explained the sin for which Nadav and Avihu were issued the death-sentence. This was a sin of the Machshavah (in the mind alone, as he explained).

The sin for which they actually died was a sin of action, when they brought a strange fire, as the Torah describes in Shemini, and by which it means they brought fire into the Kodesh Kodshim without Ketores (see footnote).

And this also explains why the Torah goes on to warn Aharon never to enter the Kodesh Kodshim without the Ketores; otherwise, he will die just as his sons did (See also Rashi on this Pasuk).


One Above, Seven Below

" and he shall sprinkle towards the eastern surface of the lid, and in front of the lid he shall sprinkle (Yazeh) seven times" (16:14).

R. Bachye points out that these eight Haza'os (sprinklings) on the Aron, on Yom Kipur symbolize the Ten Sefiros: the one above, Keser (incorporating Atzilus, Chochman and Binah); the seven, Chesed through Malchus.


He also cites the Gemara in Yuma, which teaches us that, when announcing the respective Haza'os, the Kohen Gadol repeats the word 'Achas' before each of the subsequent Haza'os ('Achas, achas ve'achas, achas u'shetayim' ) as we recite in the Musaf of Yom Kipur.

And he cites a dispute between Rebbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish as to whether the source for this is mi'de'Rabbanan (to prevent the Kohen Gadol from becoming confused [Resh Lakish]), or whether it is min ha'Torah, from the word "Yazeh" (which is otherwise superfluous [R. Yochanan]). The ramifications of their Machlokes are whether, if the Kohen Gadol neither repeated the word nor did he err - he fulfilled the Mitzvah (Resh Lakish) or not (R. Yochanan).


The author also cites the Medrash, which explains how the people told Nevuzraden, at the time of the Churban Bayis Sheini, that the drops of blood on the lid of the Aron were those of the bull and the goat on Yom Kipur, and he concludes that the lid of the Aron is called 'Kapores' (from the word 'Kaporoh', atonement) precisely because it atones for the sins of Yisrael.


The Shechinah is with Us - Always

" who dwells with them in the midst of their Tum'ah" (16:16).

Rashi comments that the Shechinah rests with Yisrael even when they are Tamei.

Rabeinu Bachye comments that this is the reason behind R. Yehudah's ruling that permits using Tamei materials as S'chach for the Succah (in which the Shechinah dwells) on Succos (even though the Halachah is not like him). And, citing the words of Chazal, he elaborates further, and explains how the Shechinah is with us even when we rebel and when we stray from Him. Moreover, he explains, even when G-d 'hates' us and sends us into Galus, where we render ourselves impure, yet His Shechinah still dwells among us (albeit hidden from view).



The Sequence of the Pesukim

"You shall be holy (Kedoshim tih'yu) each man shall 'respect' his mother and father, and you shall keep My Shabboses, I am Hashem your G-d. Do not turn to idols and do not manufacture molten images " (19:2-4).

In his first explanation, R. Bachye interprets 'Kedoshim tih'yu' to mean that we should separate (like Rashi and the Ramban according to their respective explanations). What the Torah wants of us here, he says, is to reflect who our parents are and who Hashem is and to subsequently desist from behaving in a manner that is inconsistent with our conclusions.

One should first of all come to the realization and acknowledge that, having formed and brought him into this world, his father and his mother are akin to their Creator. Following that, one should acknowledge that G-d created the world (in general and him in particular). That is why the Torah follows with Shabbos, which is a testimony on the creation of the world. (Note the similarity between the sequence here and the sequence of the Ten Commandments.)

The author explains the reason that the Torah places the mother first with regard to Yir'ah, but the father first with regard to Kavod in the same way as Rashi does. And, apart from the reason that he gave earlier, he adds that the Torah follows respecting one's parents with keeping Shabbos, to teach us that even if one's father and mother agree that one should break Shabbos, one may not do so, despite the fact that the Torah places their honour on a par with that of G-d Himself, because (as Rashi points out) "I am Hashem your (plural) G-d".

The Torah continues with the prohibition of Avodah-Zarah, because anybody who denies the creation (by breaking Shabbos), it is as if he worshipped idols. And the Torah writes "Do not turn to idols", to forbid even merely attaching importance to them (even though one has no intention of worshipping them), because, as Rashi explains, they are nothing, as their name suggests.


Shechting Shelamim and Chulin

"And when you Shecht a Shelamim you shall Shecht it (tizbochuhu) willingly" (19:5).

The word "tizbochuhu", R. Bachye points out, is written without a 'Vav' (after 'Beis'), in which case it could be read 'tizbecheihu' (meaning that you [singular] shall Shecht it).

The Gemara in Chulin (29a) learns from here that in the realm of Kodshim, neither is one person permitted to Shecht two animals simultaneously, nor are two people permitted to hold the knife whilst Shechting one animal.

By the same token, the Gemara extrapolates that both are permitted as regards Chulin - i.e. one person may hold a long knife and Shecht two animals with it at one and the same time; whilst two people may hold a knife, one at either end, for example, and Shecht an animal together.


Eating the Shelamim

"On the day that it is Shechted it shall be eaten and on the following day, and what is left on the third day shall be burned in fire"(19:6).

It is a Mitzvah to eat Shelamim on the first day, R. Bachye extrapolates from the Pasuk. And it is only if some of the meat is left over that one is permitted to eat it on the second day.

On the night following the second day it may not be eaten, since it has become Nosar and must be burned. Consequently, when the Torah mentions "the third day", he explains, it is not coming to permit eating it then, but rather it comes permit its burning (which was forbidden until then).


The Prohibition of Cursing

"Do not curse a deaf man and fear your G-d" (19:14).

In his first explanation, Rabeinu Bachye explains that the Torah mentions specifically a deaf man to teach us that the prohibition applies even where the person concerned is unaware and unaffected by one's words; how much more so there where he can hear, and is insulted and hurt by the curse. Elaborating further, he explains that the reason for the prohibition is not merely on account of the resulting harm that it does, but because cursing is intrinsically evil.

In his second explanation, he ascribes the Torah's example of a deaf man to the fact that it is more common to curse a deaf man (a 'cheresh' is actually a deaf-mute), since he has no need to fear retaliation (and the same reason applies, he says to the continuation of the Pasuk " and do not place a stumbling-block before a blind man").

Indeed, he explains, that is why the Pasuk concludes with the words " and you shall fear your G-d", and after quoting a Pasuk in Mishlei (24:12) which supports this concept, he cites the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (2:1) "Know what is above you: an Eye that sees, an Ear that hears and that all your deeds are recorded in the Book".

This is reminiscent of R. Yochanan ben Zakai, who blessed his Talmidim that they should fear Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu as much as they fear their fellow-men.

That is real Yir'as Shamayim!

* * *


Acharei Mos

"With this Aharon shall come to the Kodesh (Kodshim) with a bull in its third year (be'Par ben Bokor) as a Chatas " (16:3).

The words "be'Par ben Bokor" occur again in Divrei-Hayamim 2 (13:9), where the Pasuk describes how Yerav'am deposed the Kohanim and the Levi'im, replacing them with ordinary people (who were not eligible to perform the Avodah). This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that following the appointment of these 'Kohanim', he copied the entire Seider of Yom Kipur.


"And he shall leave them (ve'hinicham) there" (16:23).

See Rashi.

The Ba'al ha'Turim comments that the letters of "ve'hinicham" can be rearranged to read 've'Yud-Ches Manah', because eighteen Manah was the required weight of the four white garments that the Kohen Gadol wore during the morning Avodah on Yom Kipur.


"Any man from Beis Yisrael who Shechts a bull inside the Camp or outside the Camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the Ohel Mo'ed to bring it as a Korban " (17:3).

The Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the Torah juxtaposes the Parshah of Shechutei Chutz (Kodshim that are Shechted or sacrificed outside the Azarah) after that of the Sa'ir la'Azazel. This is to teach us that the Torah may well have permitted the Avodah of the Sa'ir la'Azazel, even with respect to considering pushing the goat off the cliff as its Shechitah - some commentaries even explain that the 'Tzuk' from which the goat was pushed consisted of two sharp, razor-like pinnacles that would automatically cut the goat's neck - the Torah is warning us here that that phenomenon was unique. It is a concession that was confined to the Sa'ir la'Azazel only, and one should beware not to take one's cue from there as regards other Kodshim, all of which must be Shechted and brought inside the Azarah!




'You shall sanctify yourselves and you shall be physically holy, in order that I accept your prayers with goodwill ' (20:7).


'And a man who is intimate with his sister because I performed an act of kindness with the early generations (by allowing Kayin to marry his sister) in order to inhabit the world - before the Torah was given to the world; but whoever does this now that the Torah has been given will be destroyed ' (20:17).


' you shall distinguish between an animal that is Kasher and between a bird that has become ineligible and do not abominate yourselves with an animal that has been 'trodden' by a wild beast, with a bird that has been 'trodden' by a hawk or with whatever creeps along the ground ' (20:25).


'And you shall be holy before Me, since I, the G-d who chose you am Holy, and I set you apart in order to serve Me' (20:26).

* * *

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