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

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Vol. 15   No. 26

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Parshas Shemini
Parshas Parah

(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

The Medrash explains how, whatever G-d taught Moshe, He always told him both about its Tum'ah and about its Taharah. However, when He came to the Parshah of Emor el ha'Kohanim, He told him about Tum'as Meis, but when Moshe asked Him about its Taharah, He declined to answer, leaving Moshe bewildered. It was only later, when it came to the Parshah of Chukas, that He clarified the issue: 'When I taught you about the Din of Tum'as Meis,' He told Moshe, 'and you asked Me about its antidote, I did not answer you. Well, here is the antidote "And you shall take for the Tamei person some of the ashes of the bull " '.


The question arises as to why G-d initially withheld the Parshah of Parah Adumah from Moshe. Why did He not insert it in Parshas Emor, after the Parshah of Tum'as Meis?


To answer the question, the B'nei Yisaschar first cites the explanation of R. Moshe ha'Darshan (cited by Rashi), which firmly establishes Parah Adumah as a Kaparah for the sin of the Golden Calf.

The Rambam (Hilchos Teshuvah Halachah 5) teaches us that G-d's knowledge of our actions does not in any way interfere with our choice. In other words, even though He knows that a person is going to sin, that person still retains his freewill and choice to desist, should he so wish. On the one hand, G-d's absolute knowledge is not debatable, whilst on the other, the Torah stresses the concept of reward and punishment over and over again.

And these are two facts in which we are obligated to believe, even though we cannot possibly comprehend how they can both co-exist simultaneously.

This phenomenon is only true however, as long as G-d's knowledge remains unspoken. Once He has made a statement, that statement must materialize, come what may, as the Navi writes in Yeshayah (55:11) "So shall be My word that comes out of My Mouth, it will not come back to Me empty-handed, until it has done that what I wish it to do". This is how the Alshich explains the Pasuk.


Based on the above distinction, even though G-d knew that Yisrael were destined to sin and that the Kaparah of the Parah Adumah would be necessary, as long as the Parah Adumah remained unspoken, Yisrael were free to refrain from sinning, when confronted by the temptation to do so. And the reason that G-d declined to tell Moshe about the Parah Adumah in Parshas Emor (which, according to R. Moshe ha'Darshan and the Medrash, must have preceded the sin of the Eigel) was because, had He done so, the spoken fact would have withdrawn Yisrael's freewill and choice not to worship the Eigel, turning it into a Divine Decree. Had that been the case, of course, they would not have been punishable for their actions.

It transpires from this Medrash that the Parshah of Parah Adumah teaches us, among other things, the fact that G-d's prior Knowledge and freewill and choice can go hand in hand, despite the seeming impossibility of that being the case.

* * *

Parshah Pearls

Soul Burnt - Body Intact

"And a fire went out from before Hashem" (10:2).

The gematriyah of "va'teitzei eish mi'lifnei Hashem" is equivalent to that of 'nafshom nisr'foh ve'ha'guf kayam' (their souls were burned, but their bodies remained intact' (See 'Highlights from Targum Yonasan').


The Right Thing at the Wrong Time

"And a fire went out from before Hashem and they died" (10:2).

Even though, based on the Pasuk in Vayikra "And the sons of Aharon shall place fire", the Gemara in Eiruvin (63a) rules that it is a Mitzvah to burn Korbanos using regular fire, over and above the fire that descends from Heaven, that should only have applied after fire had first came down from Heaven, comments the Rosh. It was disrespectful, he explains, for Nadav and Avihu to bring their own fire to the Mizbei'ach before Hashem had sent His. That is why, as they walked into the Azarah with their fire, they were intercepted by the Heavenly fire coming down to burn the Korbanos. According to this explanation, if they had only waited another few moments, no harm would have befallen them.

The Rosh himself however, queries this explanation, inasmuch as a few Pesukim earlier (9:24), the Torah already wrote that fire went out from before Hashem and consumed the Korbanos on the Mizbei'ach (so what did they do wrong?)


He therefore cites the Gemara in Yuma, which explains that they died because they took upon themselves to teach the Halachah that we cited above from Eiruvin - in the presence of Moshe Rabeinu, instead of asking him for a ruling.


Moshe Rabeinu's Admission

"And Moshe heard, and it was good in his eyes" (10:19).

He was not too embarrassed, Rashi explains, to admit that he had learned the Halachah, but had forgotten it (when he might have said that he had not learned it).

The Halachah in question is that, following the sudden death of Aharon's two sons, even though G-d had issued him with a special ruling to eat the Korbanos of the Milu'im even in his status of Aninus, this did not extend to the regular Korbanos, such as the Chatas of Rosh Chodesh, the object of Moshe's rebuke.


And we know that Moshe admitted his mistake, the Rosh explains, because had he meant to say that he had not learned the ruling at all, then he would have asked Aharon to wait whilst he brought the matter before Hashem, as he did on other occasions. That fact that he immediately admitted that Aharon was right can only mean that he had indeed learned the Halachah and forgotten it, and that once he heard it from Aharon, he knew that it was authentic.


The Outer Chata'os & the Inner Chata'os

"And as for the goat of the Chatas, Moshe made enquiries and it had been burned (outside the Camp) " (10:16).

We do not find any outer Chata'os Chitzoni'os (whose blood was sprinkled on the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah, says Rashi, except for this one and the bull of the Chatas of the Milu'im, which were both burned (and not eaten by the Kohanim, like other Chata'os Chitzoni'os were), by specific Divine command.

As for inner Chata'os (whose blood is sprinkled inside the Heichal), says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., there are many bulls and goats that were completely burned.

They query Rashi however, from the bull of the Chatas brought by the Levi'im, since there too, Rashi (in Naso 8:8) states that it was burned but not eaten.

What Rashi means, they answer, is that the above are the only two Chata'os Chitzoni'os that were completely burned whole together with the skin, outside the Camp.

This was not the case with the bull of the Levi'im, which was burned in the regular manner, without its skin, on the Mizbei'ach - just like an Olah (even though it was a Chatas). And it was in this regard only, that it differed from other Chata'os.


Why Did Aharon Burn the Chatas?


It is generally accepted that the Chatas of Rosh Chodesh (as Rashi explains) was burned, because Aharon and his sons were On'nim (seeing as Nadav and Avihu had just died, and although they had the status of a Kohen Gadol, who is permitted to bring regular Korbanos, he is not allowed to eat them).

The Da'as Zekeinim M.T. however, cites some who say that they did not eat the Korban under discussion due to Tum'ah. They query that however, in that the Chatas of Rosh Chodesh was a communal Korban, which can be brought even when it is Tamei?


The Prohibition of Eating Sheratzim

"And this is for you Tamei among all the Sheratzim that swarm on the earth" (11:29).

This implies "for you", but not for the gentiles. They are permitted to eat Sheratzim (incorporating insects & rodents). This is what the Gemara is referring to in Bava Kama, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., when citing the Pasuk in Chavakuk (3:6) "He saw and permitted for the nations ". Yes, he permitted them to eat Sheratzim, in spite of the fact that they are disgusting to eat. And they cite the well-known Medrash, which compares this to two sick people, both of whom were stricken with the same ailment, and both of whom were visited by the same doctor, who put one of them on a strict diet, whilst the other one, he granted permission to eat whatever he wished.

When the first patient complained, the doctor pointed out that this was not because he liked his friend more than he liked him, but that quite to the contrary, his friend was so far gone that not even a strict diet would help him recover; so he allowed him to eat whatever he liked as long as he was still alive. Whereas he stood a good chance of recovery, and the diet would help him to achieve that.

And so it is here. K'lal Yisrael are all potential candidates for Olam ha'Ba. So Hashem placed upon them stringencies, in order to achieve that goal. Not so the gentiles, who are not on that level, so G-d saw no point in placing on them restrictions that would not achieve anything.


To Be Holy

" and you shall be holy, for I am Holy" (11:45).

Indeed, says the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., it is befitting that that the servants of Hashem, who is holy, should be holy too, as we say in the Piyut (in the Amidah of Musaf Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur) 'It is nice for the Holy One to be glorified by those who are holy'.

* * *


"And Aharon spread out his hands towards the people and he blessed them. Then, after bringing the Chatas, the Olah and the Shelamim, he happily descended from the Mizbei'ach" (9:22).


" Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, took, each man his pan and they brought before Hashem a strange fire from an oven (which had not been sanctified), which Hashem had not commanded them" (10:1).


" a fire went out from before Hashem, who was angry, and it divided into four strips of flame, which entered their nostrils, and it burned their souls, though their bodies were not scorched " (10:2).


"And Moshe said 'That is what G-d told me on Har Sinai saying, that with those who are close to me I will sanctify the Mishkan; because if they are not careful when bringing the Korbanos, they will be burned with a flame of fire. And Aharon heard and remained silent, and he received a good reward for his silence" (10:3).


"And Moshe said to Aharon and to Elazar and Isamar his sons but you shall remain silent and accept the Din on yourselves, and the rest of the House of Yisrael shall cry " (10:6).


"Wine and any other intoxicating beverage you shall not drink you and your sons, when you come to the Ohel Mo'ed " (10:9).


"And the three goats that had been brought that day (the goat of Rosh Chodesh, the goat of the Chatas of the people and the goat that Nachson ben Aminadav brought for the inauguration of the Mizbei'ach, Aharon and his sons went and burned. Moshe came to look for the goat of the Chatas of the people, and asked where it was, but it had been burned " (10:16).


"And Aharon said to Moshe 'Behold today B'nei Yisrael brought their sin-offerings and their burnt-offerings before Hashem, and there occurred this accident with my two sons; If even Ma'aser Sheini is forbidden for an Onein to eat from it, how much more so a Korban Chatas? Now if I were to eat the Korban Chatas today, would my two remaining sons not deserve to die? So it cannot be a good thing before Hashem" (10:19).


"And Moshe heard and it was good before him; So he announced in the Camp saying 'I forgot the Halachah, and Aharon my brother reminded me' " (10:20).

* * *

Some Thoughts on Kashrus
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

Showing Moshe the Ropes

"This is the chayah " (11:1).

Based on the principle that the word 'this' ("Zeh" or "Zos") generally indicates that Hashem pointed with His finger, the Gemara in Chulin (42a) comments on the Pasuk that G-d took hold of each species, showed it to Moshe (see Rashi here) and said either 'This you can eat!' or 'This you can't eat!'.

Tosfos asks why the Gemara does not include this (as well as the half-Shekel) in Menachos (29a), in its list of three things (Menorah, Rosh Chodesh & Sheratzim) that G-d showed Moshe?


And they answer by confining the Medrash to things that Moshe had difficulty in defining. This automatically precludes the half-Shekel, as his surprise there was at the fact that such a small sum could atone for such a serious sin as the Chet ha'Eigel. And as for the animals, G-d only showed him each species, so that he could then show Yisrael what they are allowed to eat and what they aren't.

(See also Tosfos in Menachos 29a, DH 'Sheloshoh').


The Torah Temimah however, based on the Medrash Tanchuma, claims that 'Sheratzim' and 'Chayah' are really one and same D'rashah, which explains why the Gemara in Chulin does not men the latter. And he supports this by pointing out that both statements are made by Tana de'Bei R. Yishmael.


Chayah Incorporates Beheimah

The same Gemara in Chulin, commenting on the fact that the Pasuk begins with "This is the chayah", and ends with "from all the beheimah ", concludes that "chayah" incorporates beheimah. Presumably, the Torah Temimah suggests, this is because the word "chayah" refers to all living things (except man), and therefore here, it incorporates all the various creatures that it is about to discuss (birds, fish ) starting with beheimos.

Indeed, as is evident from various Gemoros, the two share the same Dinim with the exception of Kisuy ha'Dam (covering the blood after Shechitah), which is not required with regard to a beheimah, and Cheilev (non-Kasher fat), which is permitted regarding a chayah.

The reason for this , says the Torah Temimah, is a. because the Torah only forbids Cheilev that is fit to go on the Mizbei'ach - and a chayah is not eligible to be brought as a Korban; and b. because of a D'rashah in Parshas Re'ei, which compares the blood of a chayah to water (which does need to be covered).


Recognizing a Kosher Animal

A B'raisa in Chulin (59a) lists the following signs by means of which one can recognize a Kasher animal: 1. it has no upper teeth (or nivin [canine-teeth); 2. Its hooves are split; & 3.Its flesh (with reference to its rump) runs crisscross.


The B'raisa is not out to list the animals' main 'Simanim', as this has already been done by the Torah (and what's more, the lists don't tally!

The Tana is providing us with a list of Simanim that are visible to the eye (which is why he omits chewing the cud) which will help a person who is traveling in a desert to identify Kasher animals, should the need arise.

Consequently, says the Torah Temimah, if one comes across an animal whose hooves have been cut off, he will know that it is Kasher if it does not possess upper-teeth or nivin (provided he knows for sure that it is not a small camel, which does not grow upper-teeth either).

If, on the other hand, one finds an animal whose mouth is cut up, so that one cannot examine its teeth, then one can check its hooves (provided one knows that it is not a chazir, which has split hooves). If the animal has horns, the Torah Temimah adds, then one knows that it is not a chazir.

And finally, if one comes across an animal with no hooves and no mouth, one can examine its rump, and if the flesh there runs crisscross, it is Kasher.


Whatever Comes from Tum'ah

There is something that chews its cud and has split hooves, says the Gemara in Bechoros (6a), yet it is forbidden! And that is a Kosher species of animal that is found inside a non-Kasher species. And the reason for this, says the Torah Temimah, is because of the principle 'Whatever comes from something that is Tamei, is itself Tamei'.

One exception to this rule is the child of a t'reifah (an animal that is stricken with one of seventy blemishes that render it unfit to live), that was conceived before the mother became a t'reifah, which is kasher. That is either because of the principle 'a fetus is not part of the mother', or because it has a life of its own, independent of its mother (unlike an egg, which is forbidden if it is found inside a t'reifah).

* * *

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