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

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Vol. 19   No. 30

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos
Yitzchak ben Leib Zalman and Sima z"l
whose Yohrzeit is 13 Iyar
MIriam bas Tzvi Hirsch and Esther Perl a"h
whose Yohrzeit is 28 Adar

Parshas Emor

Sefiras ha'Omer
(Based on the Torah Temimah)

"And you shall count for yourselves (u'sefartem lachem [starting) from the day after Shabbos (i.e. Yom-Tov, which is sometimes referred to as Shabbos), from the day when you bring the Omer of the wave-offering, they shall be seven complete weeks" (23:15).

Learning Two Things
from the Same Word (1)

The Gemara in Menachos (65b) learns from the words "U'sefartem lochem" that each individual is obligated to count the Omer for himself.

Tosfos there explains that the Gemara learns it from the fact that "U'sefartem lochem" is written in the plural, as opposed to the singular "Vesofarto l'cho" - used by the Torah in Parshas B'har, in connection with the Sh'mitah and the Yovel, and which is therefore confined to the Beis-Din.

The Torah Temimah cites the Magen Avraham (in Si'man 489), who rules that the obligation of each individual to count the Omer precludes the possibility of appointing a Shali'ach to count on one's behalf (provided one hears the counting and answers 'Amen'). And he draws a distinction between Sefiras ha'Omer and Kidush (for example), which one is permitted to be Yotzei through a Shali'ach, based on the above Pasuk, which clearly renders Sefiras ha'Omer an exception, which must be counted personally, and not through a Shali'ach.

But clearly, asks the Torah Temimah, the above-mentioned Gemara is coming to preclude Beis-Din counting on behalf of the people, as we explained, and not counting through a Shali'ach, as we explained.

His question is based on the premise that we never learn two things from the same word. Consequently, seeing as the Gemara learns from the word "lachem" that one cannot rely on Beis-Din, one cannot also learn from it that one cannot rely on a Shali'ach.


Learning Two Things
from the Same Word (2)

The Gemara in Menachos ( (66a refutes the suggestion that, based on the words "on the day that you bring the Omer" that counting the Omer, like bringing the Korban Omer, must be performed during the day of the sixteenth of Nisan. If that was the case, it argues, there would not be seven complete weeks) seeing as the day begins with nightfall). And it concludes that counting the Omer must indeed be performed by night, and as for the Hekesh (comparison) of counting the Omer to the Korban, that teaches us that cutting of the barley for the Korban must be performed at night-time, just like the counting.


The Torah Temimah cites Tosfos there, who write in the name of the B'hag, that someone who omits one day during the Sefirah has lost the Mitzvah, because one's counting no longer falls under the category of "Temimos".

They refute the B'hag's ruling, but without explaining why. The Torah Temimah explains Tosfos' difficulty in the same light as his own question on the above-mentioned Magein Araham; namely, how can the B'hag interprets "Temimos" with reference to missing days, when the Gemara interprets it with regard to counting the Omer at night-time? As we explained earlier, we do not learn two things from one word.

It seems to me that, alternatively, Tosfos rejection of the B'hag's explanation may also be based on the fact that the Torah writes "Temimos" in connection with the weeks. If, as the B'hag maintains, the Torah had wanted to teach us that counting the forty-nine days constitutes one Mitzvah, each day of which is crucial, then the Torah ought rather to have inserted it later in the Pasuk, in connection with the forty-nine days.

This is not a problem according to Tosfos, who maintain that each day, an independent Mitzvah must be complete. According to them, the Torah had to insert "Temimos" together with the weeks, because placing it with the days would have implied that the forty-nine days are one Mitzvah (like the B'hag).

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

His People - His Relatives

" say to the Kohanim that he shall not render himself Tamei (bury) for his people" (21:1)

'Even for his people - who are his family', comments the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., and certainly not for gentiles. This conforms with the explanation of the Chizkuni.

I am not sure however, as to whether the Da'as Zekeinim does not mean to say 'even for his people' - his relatives, and certainly not for strangers, even if they are Jews.


Wives & Sisters

"Only for his wife (She'eiro) who is close to him " (21:2).

The Toras Kohanim extrapolates from the word "who is close", that it is only for a wife that a Kohen may render himself Tamei, but not for a betrothed (even though she is considered a wife in certain regards).

In connection with a sister (in the next Pasuk), Rashi explains that the phrase "who is close to him", to include one who is betrothed (permitting the Kohen to render himself Tamei on her behalf).

The one, comments the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. is linked with the other; the former is the reason for the latter. In other words, it is because a Kohen is forbidden to render himself Tamei for his deceased betrothed wife, that the Torah permits her brother to do so. Because otherwise, in the event that she dies, who will see to her burial?


Rashi explains that "She'eiro" refers to the Kohen's wife. The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. supports the Halachah that a Kohen is permitted to render himself Tamei for his deceased wife (even though, unlike the other six relatives listed by the Torah, she is not a blood-relative).

His first proof is from Pasuk 4, where, according to Rashi's interpretation, the Torah prohibits a Kohen to render himself Tamei for a wife who is forbidden to him (e.g. a divorcee), implying that for a wife who is permitted to him, he is obligated to do so.

And secondly, from the previous ruling, permitting a Kohen to render himself Tamei on behalf of his betrothed sister, implying that he may not do so for a sister who is married. Why not?

Because then it is up to her husband to bury her - even if he is a Kohen, since a husband is the closest relative that a woman has, as the Torah writes in Bereishis (2:24) "And they shall become as one flesh", and there can be no closer relationship than that!


Paternal Brothers Only!

"Only for his son and his daughter, his brother and his sister, " (21:2/3).

The Da'as Zekeinim, citing the Toras Kohanim, writes that just as "his son and his daughter" inherit him, so too, do brother and sister apply exclusively, to a paternal brother and sister, who inherit him. He is not permitted to render himself Tamei for a maternal brother or sister who has died, since maternal relatives are not heirs.

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