|Back to Parsha homepage||
by Rabbi Yisrael Pesach Feinhandler
|Archive of previous issues|
And he who is the High Priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and who is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not suffer the hair of his head to grow long, nor rend his clothes.
One day in the old city of Jerusalem, a Jew was walking down the street with an umbrella in his hand. An Arab who happened to be walking at his side tripped on the umbrella, slipped on the slippery stones, and ended up falling in such a way that he died instantly from the accident.
Knowing that when the Arabs found out about this they would seek revenge, the unfortunate Jew ran to the house of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yoseph Chaim Sonnenfeld. To his astonishment, the Rabbi refused to give him shelter, and demanded that he leave his home immediately. The poor Jew began pleading for his life, but with no success. The Rabbi was adamant that he leave his house, saying, "You must leave immediately! My house is not a shelter for those who kill accidentally." Hopeless, the Jew left the Rabbi's house, and found himself shelter in one of the basements of the neighborhood. Meanwhile, there was a great tumult on the Arab street when they found the body. Several Arabs denounced the Jews and especially their Rabbi who, so they claimed, was known to give protection to murderers. A few hours later, a group of soldiers accompanied by some Arab dignitaries barged into Rabbi Sonnenfeld's house and began searching for the murderer. Outside an Arab mob waited, planning to lynch the Jew when he was found.
The soldiers searched every corner of the Rabbi's house, but found nothing, and finally had to leave empty-handed. Only then did Rabbi Yoseph Chaim Sonnenfeld's associates realize why he was so adamant in refusing to give shelter to the Jew: in order to save the Jew's life.
Rabbi Yoseph Chaim Sonnenfeld remained calm in spite of the great pressure he was under. He utilized his self-control and clarity of mind to ultimately save the life of a fellow Jew. In a similar way, every married person should develop his inner strengths so that he is prepared to fulfill his task in married life.
Why is he called the Kohen Gadol? Because he is greater than others in five things: in physical beauty, in strength, in wealth, in wisdom and in age.
In physical beauty: He is more handsome than his brethren.
In strength: He is strong with power. Come and see that Aharon waved in the air twenty-two thousand levites in one day. How was it done? He waved them in the air back and forth and up and down.
In wealth: If he was not wealthy on his own, his fellow kohanim gave him wealth and made him rich. There was a story of Pinchas the satas [stonecutter], who was appointed to be the Kohen Gadol, and his brethren the kohanim, went out to him and found him hewing stones, and they did not let him continue; rather they filled his quarry with gold coins. From where do we know that if he has no wealth of his own, his brethren raise him up? Since it is written, "And the kohen, who is greater than his brethren."l
This is true not only for a High Priest, but also for a king. And so we find that when David, the future king, went out to combat Goliath the Philistine, Sha'ul said to him, "You will not be able to go to this Philistine to combat him, since you are but a youth, and he is an experienced warrior."2 And David answered Sha'ul, "Your servant was a shepherd to his father, and the lion and the bear came, etc."3 Sha'ul said to him, "Who told you that you are capable of killing him?" Immediately David answered him, "G-d, Who has saved me from the lion and the bear, will save me from this Philistine."
Immediately, [after that proclamation], "Sha'ul put the warrior clothes upon David." 4 And it is written of Sha'ul, "[Sha'ul was] a full head taller than the entire nation." 5 But the moment that Sha'ul dressed David with his clothes and saw that they fit him, he looked with jealousy upon David [he gave him an ayin hara]. When David saw that he had embarrassed Sha'ul, he said to him, "I am unable to go with all these [clothes], since I am not used to them." 6 From here we learn that even if a person is short, when he is appointed king, he suddenly becomes tall. Why does this happen? Because when a person is anointed with the oil of anointing he becomes more praiseworthy than his brethren.
Why does the Kohen Gadol have to be superior to the other kohanim? Why should he be handsome, when we find that handsomeness is not a particularly praiseworthy trait? What does strength have to do with being a Kohen Gadol? Why does a Kohen Gadol need wealth? From the way our Sages have interpreted the story of David and Sha'ul, it seems David grew a head taller when he put on Sha'ul's clothes. How can we explain such a phenomenon? How does the oil of anointing work that it causes a person to grow so quickly?
The task of the Kohen Gadol is to be the leader of the ohanim. He brings the most important sacrifices and he enters the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. He does not attend the funerals of any of his relatives, and he marries only a virgin.7 Having such a distinguished position demands reverence from others, and that is gained by his possessing qualities that are valued in their eyes, those of physical beauty, power, wealth, wisdom, and age. These qualities give him the tools to fulfill his task completely.
Even being handsome, which seems like a vain trait, is a valuable tool in gaining power and obedience. One is not allowed to be haughty because of his good looks, since he did nothing to gain that trait. However, despite the lack of effort involved, people admire someone who is handsome. Thus, G-d gave this trait to the kohen who was destined for this important task.
A person does not become handsome only after he becomes a Kohen Gadol, but this is a trait he is born with. From this e can learn that a person is born with the tools he will need r the tasks that he will have in life. G-d knows what task is destined for the selected kohen, and thus grants him beauty that he will be able to fulfill his task to the utmost.
Even physical power is a valuable tool for leadership. When people see that their leader is powerful, they revere him more. They feel that just as he has physical power, he must also have spiritual power. Even though one has nothing to do with the other, his capacity to do physical work enhances his powers of leadership.
People tend to revere others who possess wealth. We see that a wealthy person can afford to be daring and eccentric because his wealth gives him power. This same power, when properly channeled, is an important tool in the hands of the Kohen Gadol. Would he not possess his own wealth, he might have to listen to and obey other kohanim who have great riches, and he might feel belittled in their presence.
From the way our Sages have interpreted the story of David and Sha'ul, David grew taller when he put on Sha'ul's clothes and was anointed. How can we understand such a phenomenon?
The answer is that when a person receives a task to fulfill in life, he grows to fit that task. Here it seems that G-d made a miracle, that David grew physically taller. This comes to teach us that we certainly grow taller in spirit, to meet each task that confronts us.
Every husband is looked upon by his wife as the "Kohen Gadol" of the family. She reveres him and looks up to him for guidance and leadership. That is part of a wife's nature. Just as the Kohen Gadol receives the tools from heaven that he needs to fulfill his task, so does every husband receive the tools to be a successful husband. It is not really difficult to be a good husband, since we inherent possess in our very natures whatever is necessary to succeed.
Your wife thinks of you as powerful, handsome and wise. She often asks you to lift something heavy for her, adores you, loves to look at you, and constantly asks your advice. Since this is the natural way in which a wife thinks of her husband, it is really not difficult to be a good husband. Every husband begins married life with this advantage, and he just has to play the natural role his wife expects of him.
How pitiful it is when a husband ruins the image that he has his wife's eyes. Instead of maintaining a pleasant appearance, he goes around looking sloppy, and instead of trying to help her or give her some good advice, he ignores her requests or answers angrily or without thinking. In this way he will lose the very precious gift that he has been given. Instead of his wife looking at him as a "Kohen Gadol," she will now think of him as a simpleton, since he has destroyed his own image in her eyes.
just as a king becomes tall when he is anointed with the special oil, so does every husband become capable of fulfilling his role as soon as he marries. Once you assume the task, you are capable of mastering the art of becoming a successful spouse. Your personality and your character will grow to new dimensions as you thoughtfully and carefully take your new responsibilities to heart and strive to fulfill them to the best of your abilities.
This too, applies to the task of being a wife. The moment woman marries, she receives from Heaven the tools she needs to be a wonderful wife. She now possesses charm, beauty and patience that she never had before when she was single. Even if she used to become irritated with her friends if she had to wait for them only a few minutes, she can now wait for her husband for hours. She used to get angry at the smallest things, and now it is almost impossible to make her upset.
We know that the Kohen Gadol could not serve in the Beis Ha-mikdash on Yom Kippur unless he had a Wife. 8 The atonement of the entire Jewish people was dependent or, this one woman who was willing to be the wife of the Kohen Gadol. From this we can see, that the wife of the Kohen Gadol had an importance equal to his own, since he could not fulfill his tasks without her.
This teaches us how important is the role of the wife in every family. Even though her husband may not be the Kohen Gadol, without her patience and love he cannot succeed in his tasks. Even the greatest men need the support of their wives in order to succeed. Marriage is a lifetime task that demands much of us every day. Yet if we wish to succeed, the tools lie in our very own hands.
1. Vayikrah 21:10
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network