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

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Vol. 17   No. 26

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmas
Rivka bas Yosef z"l
by her family
l'iluy Nishmas
Hena Hitza bas Eliyahu
(Anne Dodick, mother of Risa Rotman) z"l
on the occasion of her ninth Yohrzeit

Parshas Shemini

Not for the Gentiles
(Part 1)

(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)

Commenting on the word "them (Aleihem)", in the opening Pasuk of the Parshah listing the non Kasher animals "And G-d spoke to Moshe and to Aharon to tell them", Rashi explains that it comes to include Elazar and Isamar. G-d was now rewarding them for remaining silent together with their father Aharon after the death of Nadav and Avihu, and fully accepting the Divine Judgement without question. So He granted them the honour of being partners with Moshe and Aharon in teaching this Parshah to K'lal Yisrael.


The K'li Yakar queries Rashi's explanation in that Elazar and Isamar have not been mentioned since some twenty Pesukim earlier? And besides, he points out, the Torah praised Aharon for remaining silent! It says nothing about Elazar and Isamar doing likewise.

Targum Yonasan however, supports Rashi's explanation. The Or ha'Chayim too, learns like Rashi, though he ascribes the significance of Elazar and Isamar's insertion, either to the Pasuk in V'zos-Hab'rachah (in connection with the tribe of Levi) "Yoru mishpotecho le'Ya'akov", designating the Kohanim and the Levi'im as the teachers of K'lal Yisrael; or to the order in which Moshe regularly transmitted the Torah to Yisrael - first via Aharon, then via his sons, then via the Zekeinim (the elders) and then to Yisrael (though this explanation is problematic, since the Zekeinim are not mentioned here).


In any event, the K'li Yakar concludes that the Torah adds the word "Aleihem" to exclude gentiles, who are not affected by the Parshah of forbidden foods, and who are permitted to eat whatever they please. Indeed, he explains, many commentaries (among them the Ramban) attribute the prohibition of eating non-Kasher food to their ill affect on the health of those who eat them. And it was for the health of His people Yisrael, who accepted the Torah, that G-d was concerned, not for that of the nations of the world, who had rejected it.

He disagrees with these commentaries however, on the grounds that by and large, the gentiles eat non-Kasher food, vermin and mice, yet, by and large, they remain strong and healthy, physically unaffected by the food that they eat.


The author prefers the explanation of the Akeidah and the Mahari Avuhav, who explain the issue in the context of the health of the Neshamah, rather than to the physical health. They animals which the Torah forbids, they explain, deeply affect man's pure Soul adversely, driving out the spirit of purity and sanctity, creating in its place a cruel and hard nature, and causing one's Seichel to become stopped up (it makes one thick-headed). And he proves this from the Halachah that renders a cow that is born from a donkey, Tamei - a proof that something that is Tamei implants its own Tum'ah into whatever comes from it. (In fact, the Ramban concurs with this explanation too. See Parshah Pearls, 'The Non-Kasher Birds').

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Number Eight

"And it was that on the eighth day Moshe called to Aharon and to his sons and to the elders of Yisrael" (9:1).

The seven days of inauguration of the Mishkan, R. Bachye explains, were due to the importance of the number seven, a number that effects so many of the Mitzvos of the Torah. Even Bil'am understood this when he asked Balak to build him seven altars on which he subsequently sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.

And if Aharon was inaugurated only on the eighth day, it was due to the level of the Kohen Gadol, which elevates him to a higher level than the rest of K'lal Yisrael.


Moreover, he says, many of the issues that are connected with the Mishkan and the Mikdash swivel round the number eight eight garments of the Kohen Gadol; eight spices, four pertaining to the anointing oil (myrrh, cinnamon, cane and cassia), and four to the Ketores (balsam, onycha, galbanum and frankincense); eight staves (two each on the Aron, the Shulchan, the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav and the Mizbei'ach ha'Olah (it is not clear why the author omits the one pole with which the Levi'im carried the Menorah. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, as opposed to the other staves, which the Torah calls 'Badim', it is called a 'Mot'); an animal becomes eligible to be brought on the Mizbei'ach only after eight days, and eight different types of instruments upon which the minstrels played as the Levi'im sang the Shir shel Yom each day, as listed in various places in Tehilim.


The Ten Firsts

'The eighth day' fell on Rosh Chodesh Nisan, say Chazal, and it was special in that it took ten crowns (i.e. ten important firsts took place on it). It was the first day that

1. They left Egypt;

2. Aharon served as Kohen Gadol;

3. The order of the Avodah took place;

4. Aharon blessed the people (Birchas Kohanim);

5. Fire came down from the Heaven and consumed the Korban on the Mizbei'ach.

6. The goat for a Chatas was brought on Rosh Chodesh (it seems that, for some reason, the author inserted this for the first day of the creation, which the Medrash lists in its place [footnote]).

7. The Isur of Shechutei Chutz (the prohibition of Shechting Korbonos outside the Mishkan);

8. The Shechinah came to rest among Yisrael;

9. The Princes brought their inaugural sacrifices;

10. Tamei people were sent out from the Camp of Yisrael (here too, the author seems to have inserted this in place of the first time they ate Kodshim [Ibid]).


Two Sins for Yisrael, One Sin for Aharon

"Take a goat for a sin-offering, and a calf and a lamb without blemish for a burnt-offering " (9:3).

R. Bachye, citing a Medrash, asks why Yisrael needed to bring more Korbanos than Aharon (who sacrificed only one calf as a sin-offering and one ram as a burnt-offering).

Yisrael, he answers, had two sins to atone for - one at the beginning and one at the end, whereas Aharon had only one. 'At the beginning' - "and they Shechted a goat (and dipped his shirt in its blood)"; and at the end "They made for themselves a molten calf". 'Let the goat come and atone for the deed of the goat, and let the calf come and atone for the deed of the calf!' Whereas Aharon had only one - when he made the Golden Calf.

Moreover, he explains, the reason that Aharon's calf was brought as a Chatas and the people's, as an Olah, is to demonstrate Aharon's purity of heart, for whereas, at the sin of the Eigel ha'Zahav, Yisrael sinned also in their hearts, Aharon sinned in deed alone. He did not in his heart, since what he did was entirely for the sake of Hashem, not because he believed for one moment in the Eigel (Chalilah). That is why the Torah writes in Ki Sissa (32:38 [in connection with the Eigel]) "which Aharon made" (he made it but did not believe in it). And as is well-known, an Olah is brought for sinful thoughts, whilst a Chatas is brought for a sinful act.


The Blood of the Korban

"And the blood he shall pour on to foundation of the Mizbei'ach" (9:9).

This atones for the soul (Nefesh) of man, which was responsible for his sin, and whose existence is interwoven with his blood, for so the Torah writes in Acharei-Mos (17:14) "for the soul of all flesh is associated with his blood", and the Torah also writes (Ibid. 11) "for the blood will atone for the soul".


The Cheilev, the Kidneys and the Lobe of the Liver

And the reason that one burns the Cheilev, the kidneys and the lobe of the liver on the Mizbei'ach is because these three limbs contrive to make a person sin and to turn him from the good path to a bad one.

The Cheilev is the fat that causes man to become vain and conceited, as the Torah writes in 'V'zos Hab'rachah' "And Yeshurun became fat and rebelled; you became fat, thick and gross, and you forgot the G-d who formed you".

The kidneys are the source of counsel, as Chazal have said 'the kidneys advise'.

Whereas the liver houses the soul of desire, that pervades the entire body and gives birth to rage and anger, and seeks to dominate, and to the pleasures of life.

(It seems to me that these three things are synonymous with the three root Midos that drive a person out of this world - The kidneys create 'Kin'ah' [jealousy], the liver - desire, and the Cheilev - Kavod).


The Non-Kasher Birds

"And these you shall abhor of the birds " (11:13).

The Torah lists the Tamei birds, says R. Bachye, because they are the minority. For such is the way of someone who is selecting one species from another; he will inevitably select the smaller amount from the larger one (and this also has ramifications with regard to Hilchos Shabbos). That is why the Torah writes at the end of Kedoshim "And you shall differentiate between the Tahor animal and the Tamei, and between the Tamei bird and the Tahor one". R. Bachye (following in the footsteps of the Ramban), observes how it switches the order, starting with the Tahor animals, but with the Tamei birds, because there are less Kasher animals than birds, but less non-Kasher birds, and when it comes to select, one tends to select the smaller number, as we explained. Chazal learn from here that one should be careful to teach a Talmid in a brief and concise manner.

The author, quoting the Ramban, also points out, of the various specification that mark a bird Tamei (i.e. non-Kasher) what all non-Kasher birds have in common is the fact that they are 'Doreis' - that they are birds of prey that actually hold their prey in their claws and proceed to eat it whilst it is still alive (and he cites the astor and the hawk as examples of this). In fact, he explains, the reason that the Torah forbids them is precisely because of their inherent cruelty, which is transmitted into the bloodstream of whoever eats them (and mercy and kindness are among the Midos in which Yisrael excel).

Similarly, he explains, all Beheimos (domesticated animals) prey on other creatures, with the exception of the three species that chew their cud and have cloven hooves. And he adds that the inherently different characteristics of Kasher and non-Kasher animals manifest themselves in their milk - in the fact that the milk of the former congeals and can be turned into cheese. Not so the milk of the latter, which he therefore assumes will damage or impair the reproduction organs of those who drink it. He also quotes medical works which state that a baby who suckles from a Chazir is liable to contract leprosy - an indication that all non-Kasher species contain elements that are medically harmful. And this is in stark contrast to the meat and by-products of Kasher animals and birds, which are known in the world of medicine to contain positive health properties..

Apart from various physical disadvantages that ensue from eating and drinking non-Kasher animals and their by-products, says R. Bachye, the Torah forbids them to us, because G-d Himself, the epitome of goodness, has an affinity towards humility and good Midos. Consequently, just as He rejects all Tamei species, which represent cruelty and evil, from being brought on the Mizbei'ach, so too, has He rejected them from being served at the table of His people Yisrael.

* * *


"And a reptile that suckles from a wild animal, a "Ko'ach" (a chameleon or a species of lizard), a spider, a snail, and a salamander' (11:30).



" And it was on the eighth day that Moshe called (ha'shemini koro Moshe) to Aharon " (9:1).

The Gematriyah of the words "ha'shemini koro Moshe", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is equivalent to that of 'Hoyoh be'yom Rosh Chodesh Nisan'.


" And he said to Aharon 'Take a calf from the herd (eigel ben bokor)' " (9:2).

And the Gematriyah of the words "eigel ben bokor", he says, is equivalent to that of 'Lechaper chet ho'eigel' (to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf).


"And to the B'nei Yisrael say and a calf and a lamb ,,, as a burned-offering and an ox and a ram as a peace-offering" (9:3/4).

Switching the 'Siyn' in "Keves" (a lamb) for a 'Shiyn' ('kevesh' means to quash), the Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the lamb was chosen to quash the sin of the Eigel ha'Zahav, whilst the ram symbolized the fact that the young ox pranced in front of the people like a ram. And this in turn, is hinted in the Pasuk in Tehilim (29:6) "And He makes them prance about like the calf".


" The breasts and the right calf Aharon shall wave And Aharon raised his hands to the people and blessed them" (9:21). The juxtaposition of Birchas Kohanim to the Mitzvah of waving says the Ba'al ha'Turim, indicates that whenever the Kohanim raise their hands to Duchen, they should wave them.


"And (he) blessed them " (Ibid.).

He blessed them with three B'rachos ("Yevorech'cho", "Yo'er" & "Yiso"). These correspond to the three Korbanos that Aharon brought - a Chatas, an Olah and a Shelamim.

"Yevorech'cho", corresponds to the Chatas ("ve'yishmerecha - and He will guard you against sinning, as the Pasuk says "And He will guard the feet of His pious ones").

"Yo'er" corresponds to the Olah (as the Pasuk says "ba'aloscho lero'os [when you go up to be seen])".

"Yiso (,,, Sholom") corresponds to the Shalamim...


"And the sons of Aharon took their pans a strange fire which He had not commanded them" (10:1).

This cannot mean that G-d had not issued them with any command at all, neither to bring this fire nor not to bring it, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. But rather that He commanded them with a 'No!' (not to bring it).

In the same vein, he explains, when the Torah in Parshas Shoftim refers to Yisrael worshipping the hosts of the Heaven which G-d did not command, what it means is that He commanded with a 'No!' (not to worship).

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 450:
To Give the Levi his Matonos

We are commanded not to forsake the Levi'im and not to be lax in giving them their full dues, not to withhold from them their tithes, and even more so are we commanded to make them happy on Yom-Tov. And it is in this connection that the Torah writes in Re'ei (12:19) "Beware lest you forsake the Levi all your days on your land".

A reason for the Mitzvah is because G-d wants only what is good for His people Yisrael whom He chose for Himself as a nation. They are a nation whom He wanted to merit and to make them a treasure in His world, a wise and understanding people, so that whoever sees them will acknowledge them to be children who are blessed by Him, men of truth and of good name. And since that was His intention, He applied strategies that are at times far-fetched, to encourage them to study Chochmah (i.e. Torah), continuously all day, with great diligence. And He introduced wise and pleasant customs and precious and powerful laws, in order that they get to know G-d from the youngest to the oldest, so that their offspring and their name shall live forever. One of the strategies that He employed to maintain that wisdom and help keep it intact was the appointment of one entire tribe who do not receive a portion of land, and who do not therefore need to go out to the fields to plough, to plant and to dig water-pits to water their fields. This in turn, is a means to enable them to dedicate their time to study wisdom and to gain a better understanding of the straight ways of G-d, which they will then pass on to their brothers in all the provinces and cities.

And now that the members of this tribe, they and their off-spring have been chosen to pursue the permanent study of the wisdom and understanding, and all of Yisrael need to request Torah from their mouths and to seek their consent and advice in all matters, and to follow their rulings, G-d ordered Yisrael to provide them with all their sustenance, lest their knowledge dissipates on account of lack of food. That is why the Torah's warning here appears in double form, when it writes "Hishamer" and "Pen", both expressions of a La'v, not to forsake them and not to be lax in any way from seeing to all their needs. And the reason that the Torah adds the word 'Adamah' (land) in this Pasuk is a sharp reminder to Yisrael that it is they after all, and not the Levi'im, who have inherited the land; and that G-d who makes the produce of the land grow, He is its 'inheritance', a hint that they should not become conceited before Him due to their inheritance of land, since He still remains its Master. (cont.)

* * *

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