This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Vol. 18 No. 27
R' Yehuda ben Aharon z"l
whose Yohrzeit will be on
Rosh Chodesh Nisan
by his family
Rosh Chodesh (Two Tacks)
(Adapted from the K'li Yakar)
Rosh Chodesh & Nisan
The K'li Yakar explains that because G-d showed Moshe 'with His Finger' (Kevayacol) the moon in its newness, to teach him 'This is how you should see it to sanctify it', the Torah begins with "This month is for you the head of the months" - to say that this is the way that Beis-Din should see the new moon before declaring Rosh Chodesh month by month, even though the main objective of the Parshah is to declare the current month (Nisan) as the head of the months.
The Pasuk mentions the word "lochem" for you twice ("ha'Chodesh hazeh lochem", and "rishon he lochem"), one to place the fixing of Rosh Chodesh into the hands of Beis-Din ("lochem"- Moshe and Aharon plus a third person. without whom it is not considered a Beis-Din); the other, to confine Nisan as the first month to K'lal Yisrael. For the other nations of the world, the head of the year, in all respects, remains Tishri, the month in which the world was created (following the opinion of Rebbi Eliezer, as the Gemara explains in Rosh ha'Shanah). Nisan is for us the head of the months, a constant reminder that G-d took us out of Egypt (with all the miracles that that entailed) to become His holy nation. And viewing Nisan as the first month (with its various Halachic implications) is one of many 'Mitzvos' in the Torah that serves to remind us of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim.
This Mitzvah can be compared to the Mitzvah of "Zochor es yom ha'Shabbos … ", which, as the Ramban explains, incorporates the obligation of naming the days of the week after Shabbos, reminding us constantly of Shabbos, which in turn, reminds us that G-d created the world.
The latter serves as a constant reminder that G-d created the world, the former, that He took us out of Egypt.
Rosh Chodesh & the Korban Pesach
Adopting a different tack, the K'li Yakar attributes the Torah's insertion of Rosh Chodesh here to the Mitzvah of the Korban Pesach that follows. Much in the same way as the Ramban, he explains how the Egyptians worshipped the lamb, because it represented Mazel 'T'le' (Aires - Lamb). This in turn, was due to the fact that it is the first of the twelve Mazalos (constellations), and therefore the most powerful (in their eyes), for, as the Gemara states in Shabbos (156a) 'the Mazel makes wise, the Mazel makes rich'. And they despised the shepherds of sheep, because it is inconceivable for 'one who leads to be led'.
And that is why G-d commanded K'lal Yisrael to slaughter a lamb for the Korban Pesach, to begin punishing the Egyptians by killing their god so to speak, before punishing the nation itself (His standard practice in His dealings with the idolatrous nations, as we find in Yeshayah [24:21]).
Now the month of Nisan is the month when 'the sun enters into the Mazel T'le', rendering it the head of the months, to serve as a constant reminder of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim as we explained earlier. But the likelihood exists that people will misconstrue the spotlight on this month, to ascribe it the importance of Mazel T'le! And it is to negate this misconception that the Torah commanded Yisrael to slaughter the lambs comprising the Korban Pesach in public, for all to see. Moreover, G-d commanded Yisrael to take those lambs on the tenth of the month (to tie them in captivity to their bed-posts, as the Ramban explains), when a third of the month had passed and the Mazel had reached its zenith. Yet even then, T'le was unable to protect the sheep that were under its jurisdiction. So it was clear for all to see that there was a Superpower that was superior to all other powers, that ruled supreme over the world.
This now explains why it was necessary to begin the Parshah with Rosh Chodesh. In order to command the taking of the lambs on the tenth, it was essential to first fix Rosh Chodesh. Once Rosh Chodesh had been determined, it became possible to take the lambs on the tenth, thereby demonstrating the weakness of the head of the Mazalos. Then, when Yisrael slaughtered the representative of Mazel T'le on earth, G-d slaughtered Mazel T'le itself (as we explained earlier), before going on to slaughter the firstborn who placed their trust in the firstborn of the Mazalos.
And this also explains why, of all the Mitzvos, G-d chose those of 'the Blood of Pesach' and 'the Blood of Milah' - the Blood of Pesach to counter those who believed in Mazel T'le; and 'the Blood of Milah', since the Torah forbids someone who is uncircumcised to eat the Korban Pesach.
* * *
(Adapted from the Riva)
Following the Order of the Creation
A woman who … gives birth … " (12:2).
The Medrash teaches us that just as the animals, the beasts and the birds were created before man, so too, the laws concerning them (regarding Kashrus and Tum'ah) come first (in Parshas Shemini).
That being the case, asks the Riva, why does the Torah not begin the laws of Tum'as Adam with those of a man (who preceded woman in the creation)? Why does it change the order and open with the Dinim of Tum'ah that pertain to a woman who gives birth?
And he answers with the well-known principle (pertaining to the realm of Halachah) "Tadir ve'she'eino tadir, tadir kodem' (what is more common always takes precedence), and a woman giving birth is obviously more common that a man who becomes a Metzora.
Alternatively, quoting the Ram from Coucy, he answers practically that it stands to reason to begin with the Dinim of giving birth, since, after all, a man has to be born before he can contract Tzara'as.
And thirdly, quoting the Ramam, he answers that the Torah deliberately inserted the Dinim of a Metzora after the Dinim of Tum'as Ishah, to teach us that a man who does not adhere to the Dinim of Tum'as Ishah will be punished with Tzara'as.
Not Before Bringing Her Kaparah
" … she shall not touch (i.e. eat) Kodesh, or enter the Mikdash until her days of Taharah have been completed" (12:4)
This refers to the fortieth day, says the Riva quoting Rashi.
But this is not completely accurate, he asks, bearing in mind that she is not permitted to eat Kodesh or enter the Mikdash before having brought her Korbanos (a day later), as Chazal have taught?
And he answers that "her days of Taharah" refers exclusively to the "shall not touch (i.e. eat) Kodesh", and "Kodesh" in this context means 'Terumah', as Chazal have also taught, which she is permitted to eat with nightfall.
And this is precisely the way Rashi explains the Pasuk.
The Olah and the Chatas
" … then she (the woman who gave birth) shall take two doves … one for an Olah and one for a Chatas (12:6).
Rashi explains that the Torah gives precedence to the Olah only 'le'mikro'oh'. Some commentaries explain this to mean that the woman must first designate the Oloh, and then the Chatas. But when it comes to actually sacrificing them, the Chatas takes precedence.
The Riva himself however, translates 'le'mikro'oh' as 'by chance' (like the word 'mikreh'). In other words, if one mistakenly brought the Olah before the Chatas, then one is Yotzei Bedi'eved. Lechatchilah however, the Chatas takes precedence.
Hi and Hu
" … then the Kohen shall declare him Tamei, it is Tzara'as (Tzara'as hi)" 13:8
Whenever the Pasuk refers to the word Tzara'as, it uses the word "Hi" (feminine), whereas when it refers to the word "Nega", it uses the word "Hu" (masculine) Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos.
When the Sh'chin (the Boil) Heals
" … If there will be on the skin of the flesh a boil, and it heals (ve'nirpo) … If there will be on the location of the boil a white mark (Se'eis)" 13:18.
It is not initially clear, asks the Riva, why the Torah adds the word "ve'nirpo".
And he answers with a Toras Kohanim, which explains that if a person knocks himself against something that causes a boil to grow on his skin, such as a piece of wood or a stone, and a mark of Tzara'as now appears on that spot, the Kohen will not declare him a Metzora. It is only if the mark of Tzara'as appeared after the boil has healed that he is able to do so.
White and Red Makes Pink
"And there will be in the location of the boil a white Se'eis or a Baheres that is white and red" (13:19).
The Riva again citing the Toras Kohen, learns from here that a mixture of white and red (i.e. pink) with regard to Tzara'as in the location of a boil (or a burn) is Tamei too.
Bigger and Fainter
" … it (Tzara'as in the location of a burn) did not spread and it is fainter (than it was), it is a mark of the burn; the Kohen shall declare him Tahor (13:28).
We can extrapolate from here that if the mark did spread, then he is Tamei - even though it also became fainter.
One Si'man, Two Simanim (1)
" … when the Kohen sees the plague of the Nesek (Tzara'as on the head) on the seventh day, and behold the Nesek has not spread and there is no yellow hair on it … " (13:32).
Each of these is a sign of Taharah. The Pasuk implies that if the Nesek has spread and there is a hair that has turned yellow, then the Metzora is Tamei.
What will be the Din, asks the Riva, if only one of the two signs of Tum'ah appear on the seventh day (i.e. either the Nesek spreads or a black hair has turned yellow)?
He answers that this depends upon when the Torah inserts a 'Vav' between two issues (such as here) it means 'and' or whether it means 'or', which is in fact, a dispute (in Sanhedrin 66a) between Rebbi Yonasan and Rebbi Yashiyah. If it means 'and', then the Metzora will remain Tahor unless both signs of Tum'ah appear, whereas if it mean 'or', then one of the two will suffice to render him Tamei.
See also the Da'as Zekeinim (that we will quote in Pasuk 38).
But We've Already Learned This!
"And if the Nesek retained its appearance, but a black hair grew in it, the Nesek is healed; he is Tahor!" (13:37).
Why, asks the Riva, does the Torah find it necessary to add the Din of a Nesek that has not spread, which we already learned explicitly above (in Pasuk 34)?
Perhaps, he replies, the Torah wants to explicitly state the Din regarding a black hair that grows inside it - which the Torah has not specifically mentioned until now.
One Si'man, Two Simanim (2)
And behold, the Nesek has spread on the skin, there is no need to search for the golden hair, he is Tamei" (13:36).
Why do we need this Pasuk, asks the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., seeing as the Torah has already taught us (in Pasuk 33) that if the Nesek has not spread, then the Metzora is Tahor (implying that if it has, he is Tamei)?
And he answers that were it not for the current Pasuk (which teaches us that the Nesek spreading alone is a sign of Tum'ah), we would have explained the earlier Pasuk to mean that the Nesek is only Tamei if a. it has spread and b. there is no black hair on it; but the fact that it has spread alone is not a sign of Tum'ah. The current Pasuk therefore comes to teach us that it is.
(See also what we wrote in Pasuk 32 in the name of the Riva).
A Contagious Disease
" … he (the Metzora) shall dwell alone, outside the camp shall be his abode!" (13:46).
The Riva explains that this is due to the contagious nature of Tzara'as.
See also Rashi.
When the Plague Begins to Shine
"He shall then burn the garment … it is a malignant Tzara'as (Tzara'as Mam'eres), it shall be burned in fire" (13:52).
According to the Da'as Zekeinim M.T., the root of the word "Mam'eres" is 'Or' (light), and what the Pasuk means is that, when the plague begins to shine, it must be burned, because it is a sign that it will inevitably spread.
Likewise, the following Pasuk informs us that if, after washing the stricken garment, the mark remains intact, it must be burned, because it is a 'Pecheses'. This means that it will inevitably spread, and it explains why it will not suffice to simply cut it out and re-place it with a patch (as the Pasuk prescribes in Pasuk 56).
See also Rashi.
* * *
THE BA'AL HA'TURIM
" … it is a tzora'as of the (hair of the) head or of the beard (ha'zokon)" 13:30.
The word "ha'zokon", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, appears on two occasions in T'nach - in Tehilim "Like the precious oil on the head, that runs down on to the beard (ha'zokon), the beard of Aharon" (133:2); and in Yeshayah ([7:20] in connection with the death of Sancheriv and his vast army) " … also the beard (ha'zokon) will be destroyed".
The latter teaches us that Sancheriv and his army were stricken with tzara'as before they all died; whereas from the former we learn that Aharon merited the precious anointing oil on his beard due to his future involvement in examining the plague of tzara'as and purifying the metzoro'im with a lug of oil.
"And he (the man stricken with the plague on his head) shall shave (the hair of his head [ve'hisgaloch])" 13:33.
The 'Gimel' of "ve'hisgaloch" is large, comments the Ba'a'l ha'Turim, because there were three people who require\required a major shaving of all the hair on their body - a Nazir, a Metzora and the Levi'im (on the day of their inauguration).
" … the Kohen shall see him, and behold the Nesek (the name of the plague on the hair) has spread on the skin, the Kohen need not search (lo yevaker) for the golden (two) hair(s); he is Tamei" (13:36).
The words "lo yevaker" also appear in Bechukosai (27:33 [in connection with a Temurah]) "do not differentiate (lo yevaker) between (a) good (quality) animal and a bad one".
Indeed, comments the Ba'al ha'Turim, it is precisely because the Metzora did not draw a distinction between good and bad (as Chazal have taught - 'Due to seven sins Tzara'as comes upon a person) that the Kohen need examine no further, for he is Tamei!
" … he is a man with Tzara'as, he is Tamei, so the Kohen shall declare him Tamei (contaminated [tamei yetam'enu ha'Kohen])" 13:44.
The same word (tamei), the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, also appears in Kedoshim (20:3 [in connection with Molech]) " … in order to contaminate My Mikdash".
And he explains that this hints that if a Zar (a non-Kohen) performs the Avodah of a Kohen, he will be stricken with Tzara'as, which is precisely what happened to King Uziyah, who entered the Heichal to bring the Ketores, and who was immediately stricken with Tzara'as. As a result, he spent the last twenty-two years of his reign in a graveyard.
" … his plague is on his head (be'rosho Nig'o)" Ibid.
We find the same word "Nig'o" in Divrei Hayamim (2, 6:29 [in connection with the Tefilah of Sh'lomoh Hamelech]) " … that each man knows his plague".
From here we can learn, the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that (if we take the words "be'rosho Nig'o" out of context and translate them as 'his plague comes first'), we learn that the Metzora must first clarify the sin that caused the plague and do Teshuvah on it, before praying to G-d to have mercy on him and to remove it.
"And he shall burn (ve'soraf) the garment … in fire it shall be burned" (13:52).
The fact that the Pasuk begins with 'burning' and ends with 'burning', the B'al ha'Turim comments, hints at the fact that whatever is Asur be'hana'ah (forbidden to benefit from - like a garment that has Tzara'as) must be burned.
" … the Kohen shall command … and they shall wash (ve'chibsu) the stricken garment" (13:54):
The Gematriyah of "ve'chibsu", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is equivalent to that of 'be'chol adam' (anybody) - because although the command was issued by the Kohen, anyone was eligible to actually wash the garment.
" … it is a Tamei plague on an old garment (be'korachto) or on a new one (be'gabachto)". 13:55.
The Torah refers to old clothes as "korachto", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, because they tend to be threadbare and smooth - like ice (kerach). And one can assume that it is for the same reason that a bald patch is called 'korchoh'.
And it refers to new clothes as "gabachto", he explains, because the hairs/threads of a new garment tend to protrude (and gibe'ach has connotations of something that is raised).
"This is the law of the plague of Tzara'as (Nega Tzara'as)" 13:59.
The Ba'al ha'Turim explains that the words "Nega Tzara'as" appear ten times in Tazri'a and Metora combined, because according to the Medrash, a person is stricken with Tzara'as for one of ten sins.
"Toras" or "Torah" appears five times ("Toras Nega", "Toras ha'Metzora", "Toras asher bo", "Zos ha'Torah" & "Toras ha'Tzora'as"), the Ba'al ha'Turim points out - a hint that a person who speaks Lashon ha'Ra (the most common sin for which one is stricken with Tzara'as) is as if he has transgressed all five Books of the Torah.
And finally, he observes, there are ten Parshiyos (incorporating Tzara'as Adam, Tzara'as Begadim and Tzara'as Batim) that deal with Tzara'as - to teach us that someone who keeps the Aseres ha'Dibros, will be spared from Tzara'as.
* * *