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

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Vol. 20   No. 27

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmos
Zehava Lurie a"h, Boris Glassman z"l,
Shimmy Schwartz z"l,
Pauline and Issy Chernick z"l
from the Glassman, Schwartz, Chernick Families
of Jerusalem, Efrat, Netanya, Johannesburg,
Toronto, Perth, New York, Harare

Parshas Shemini

Forbidden Foods
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

"Speak to the B'nei Yisrael saying 'These are the Chayos that you may eat out of all the animals that are on the ground But these you shall not eat out of those chew their cud and have split hooves, the camel, because (although) it chews its cud, but it does not have split hooves; it is Tamei for you' " (11:2/3).

Here is one of many reasons cited by the Yalkut Yitzchak, cit-ing the Ir Miklat, to explain the animals that the Torah forbids. One must always bear in mind that at the end of the day, 'Ma'acholos Asuros' remains a Chok (a statute, whose real rea-son G-d did not reveal).

G-d wants to bestow upon Yisrael merits, to cleanse and pu-rify them, in order that we will be able to cleave to Him, as the Torah writes in Va'eschanan (4:4) "And you, who cleave to Ha-shem your G-d, are all alive today". G-d is pure and it is befit-ting that those who serve Him too, should be pure; and it is in order to achieve this objective that He forbids us to eat any-thing that is impure - and all the non-Kasher species of ani-mals are classified as impure.

Moreover, purity is bound up with everlasting life, just as G-d, who is pure, lives forever (refer to the Pasuk that we just quoted). Hence the close connection between death and Tum'ah.

And this explains the well-known Mashal of the doctor who visited two patients in the same ward. He permitted one patient to eat whatever he fancied, whereas the other was put on a strict diet. When asked why, he explained that whereas the first patient was beyond hope of recovery, the second patient stood a good chance - provided he was careful what he ate.

The nations of the world, who rejected everlasting life at Har Sinai, are destined to die and are therefore permitted to eat whatever they fancy. We on the other hand, who are destined to go to Olam ha'Ba, must take care to eat only Tahor foods, which will not taint our Neshamos, preventing them from ever-lasting life.

How is it possible, one may ask, for the Tamei body to affect the Neshamah?

To answer this question, the author (no doubt toying with the idea that the word 'ha'shemen' contains the same letters as 'Neshamah') presents a Mashal of two oil-lamps both containing the same amount of the same quality oil, yet one is not burning as brightly as the other. Why is that? a. Because one wick is thinner than the other, and b. Because the lamp is not clean.

And so it is when a person eats less refined food, thereby dirtying his body, this effects his Seichel and his Neshamah detrimentally.

* * *

A Taste of the Forbidden
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

'For every item that I forbade you to eat in the Torah', Haka-dosh-Baruch-Hu said, 'I gave you an equivalent that is permit-ted

I forbade the blood of Nidus ... I permitted that of virgin-hood.

I forbade you to 'eat' blood ... I permitted liver that is entirely blood.

I forbade Chazir I permitted the 'Shivuta' fish (mullet) which resembles a Chazir and tastes like it.

I forbade a married woman I permitted an eishes y'fas to'ar (a woman that one captures in war [even if she is married]).

I forbade a brother's wife I permitted her after his death (in the form of Yibum).

I forbade wearing Kil'ayim (Sha'atnez) I permitted woolen Tzitzis on a linen garment.

I forbade the Cheilev (non-kosher fat) of a domesticated ani-mal I permitted the Cheilev of a wild one.

I forbade the gid ha'nosheh (the sciatic nerve) of an animal I permitted that of a bird.

I forbade the blood of an animal I permitted that of a bird'.

* * *

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

Aharon & Micha'el

" because today G-d will appear to you (nir'oh eilecho)." (9:4).

Take the letters of the two words "nir'oh eilecho" rearranged spell 'Aharon' and 'Micha'el', observes the Rosh.

It is a hint that the Shechinah was about to appear to K'lal Yis-rael in honour of Aharon ha'Kohen. It demonstrated firstly that G-d had forgiven Aharon for his complicity in the sin of the Golden Calf. And secondly that G-d had chosen the arch-angel Micha'el to act as the Heavenly defense-counsel on behalf of Yisrael.

That is also why the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (133:2): "Like the good oil on Aharon's head, that descends to the beard, the beard of Aharon". It repeats the word 'the beard' here, a hint to the two who anointed on the same occasion - Aharon down here, and Micha'el in the Heaven


The Soton at Work

"And Moshe said to Aharon 'Approach the Mizbei'ach and pre-pare your sin-offering ' " (9:7).

Rashi explains that Aharon was embarrassed and frightened to bring his sin-offering; therefore Moshe had to encourage him to go ahead, adding 'That is why you were chosen'. Perhaps Rashi means that it is precisely because he was embarrassed for having sinned, that G-d chose him to be Kohen Gadol.

The Rosh and the Da'as Zekeinim both cite a Medrash which ex-plains that the Satan actually showed Aharon an image of a calf (presumably based on the play on the word 'Karnos (ha'Mizbei'ach)' - the corners of the Mizbei'ach (which can also mean 'horns') thereby reminding Aharon of his one and only sin.

And it was that vision that frightened Aharon into believing that he was not fit to be Kohen Gadol.


Aharon's Chatas

" and atone for you and for the people " (Ibid.)

This statement is most strange, asks the Da'as Zekeinum , when we bear in mind that the Pasuk is referring exclusively to the Korban Chatas of Aharon (the people's Chatas is mentioned inde-pendently a few Pesukim later)? So why should Aharon's Chatas atone for the people?

The Da'as Zekeinim answers that the Pasuk is coming to explain why Aharon had to bring his Korban before that of the people. It is based on the principle 'Let the one who is innocent (i.e. who has been purified) come and atone for the sinners. What Moshe was telling Aharon was 'Atone for yourself (first) so that you will then be able to atone for the people (with their Korban) .


Inverting the Order

"He then brought the flour-offering and he Shechted the ox and the ram of the peace-offering" (9:17).

If we look at Pasuk 4, we will see that the initial order was first to bring the bull and the ram and then the flour-offering. The Da'as Zekeinim wonders why Aharon switched the order.

Perhaps the initial Pasuk wants to list first all the animal sacri-fices, before adding the flour-offering (even though that was not the order in which he would ultimately bring them). If the phrase there "To sacrifice ("Lizbo'ach" actually means to Shecht) before Ha-shem" covers the sin offering and the burnt-offering mentioned in the previous Pasuk, it will support this explanation.


Not Commanded to or Commanded Not to

"And they brought before G-d a strange fire which He did not command them" (10:1)

The Ba'al ha'Turim comments that, at surface value, this means that G-d had not commanded them to sacrifice this 'strange fire', though He did not command them not to bring it either. But this is clearly not what the Pasuk is coming to teach us. To understand the Pasuk therefore, we need to invert the order of the words and to read it as ' a strange fire which He com-manded them not to bring'.

Similarly, he explains, the Pasuk in Parshas Shoftim (17:3) talks about the gods that Hashem did not command us to worship, when really what it means is the gods that Hashem commanded us not to worship.

Interestingly, the Da'as Zekeinim interprets the Pasuk both ways. On the one hand, G-d did indeed command us in Parshas Tetzaveh (30:9) not to sacrifice on the Golden Mizbei'ach a strange Ketores (with reference to any Ketores other than the bi-daily quo-ta). On the other hand however, he did not counter this here by commanding Nadav and Avihu to bring a strange fire in this in-stance - in the way that G-d sometimes permits on a specific occa-sion something that is otherwise forbidden (such as sacrificing on a Bamah, which He permitted Eliyahu on Mount Carmel, although He had forbidden it anywhere else). And this, he suggest, is how one should translate the Pasuk in Yirmiyah (7:31) which talks about "burning their sons in fire which I did not command".

* * *

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