by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS ACHAREI MOSE-K'DOSHIM 5761 BS"D
L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH Z"L HK"M
PARSHAS ACHAREI MOSE
Ch. 16, v. 5: "Shnei s'i'rei izim l'chatos" - The M.R. Breishis 65:14 says that in the merit of the two goats that Rivkoh requested Yaakov to serve his father Yitzchok, he would receive the blessings, and the b'nei Yisroel would benefit in the future from the forgiveness brought about through the sacrifice of two goats on Yom Kippur, as per our verse. What is the connection? The Beis haLevi answers that there was a strong disagreement between Rivkoh and Yaakov whether to even attempt to wrest the blessings from Eisov by tricking Yitzchok (see M.R. Breishis 65:15). Yaakov felt that since the blessings were for material success (There are commentators who posit that the blessings were spiritual in nature.) he should not pursue them. The future generations would be better off with limited material opportunities, while wealth might otherwise distract them from their goal of pursuit of spirituality, as explained in the gemara Chagigoh 9a on the verse in Yeshayohu 48:10, "I have chosen you for the crucible of poverty."
Rivkoh felt that although Yaakov was basically right, there are two important benefits that could be realized with having material success. One is that many mitzvos can only be fulfilled if one has the funding for them. The other advantage is that if one has been granted the blessing of material success, if deprived of it, it is to be considered a punishment, and would be an atonement for some sins (gemara Bovo Basro 9a). The Beis haLevi compares ownership of material wealth, which should not be a goal unto itself, to possessions from which one may not derive benefit, by virtue of a self declared vow. Yet, two benefits may be derived. One is that the object may be used for a mitzvoh (see gemara Rosh Hashonoh 28a). The second benefit is that the object may be used to pay a debt (see gemara N'dorim 33a). With this approach, Rivkoh persuaded Yaakov to attempt to receive his father's blessings.
We know that long-term success in any matter requires a source of sanctity to maintain it. What is the source for the material success of the 70 nations? (There are medroshim which say that the 70 oxen of the mussof sacrifices of the 7 days of Succos, Bmidbar 29:14-32, are the source.) The Beis haLevi says that its source is the scapegoat of Yom Kippur which is sent down a precipice. Its laws seem contrary to all laws of sacrificing at the Beis Hamikdosh. It is not slaughtered in the normal ritual manner that even animals that are "chulin," non-sacrificial animals, are slaughtered, nor are any other normal blood offering procedures followed, i.e. its procedure is done outside the Mikdosh compound, there is no receiving of blood in a holy vessel, nor placing of blood onto the altar. This is because it is a quasi-sacrifice, its benefit being for the nations of the world, which doesn't allow for it to be processed in the Beis Hamikdosh compound in the normal fashion. Why is this sacrifice brought specifically on Yom Kippur? He answers that since the dominant theme of Yom Kippur is to receive atonement for our sins, we specifically bring a sacrifice that brings success for the nations to have material wealth. Since we are entitled to material blessings, our willingness to relinquish them, and even bring a sacrifice to that end, creates atonement for the bnei Yisroel. This would not be so if Yaakov had not received the blessings, and had not had a claim of ownership of the material world. This is the connection in the M.R., that the goats which would facilitate Yaakov's receiving the blessings would bring about an atonement through the scapegoat of Yom Kippur.
We find that Eisov comes at the moment of the completion of Yaakov's receiving the blessings, and that he bitterly screams for a blessing from his father. His father gives him what is seemingly a blessing that is very similar to that of Yaakov (Breishis 27:39). If so, why did Eisov harbour a burning hatred for Yaakov for so many years? The Beis haLevi says that we actually find that the Holy Zohar addresses this question (vol. 1, page 143b). He answers that there is a critical difference between the two. Yaakov's blessing is worded "v'yitein, and Hashem will GIVE you" (27:28), while Eisov's is worded "y'h'yeh, IT WILL BE" (27:39). The Beis haLevi explains that Yaakov actually was the RECIPIENT and OWNER of the blessings. Eisov was told by Yitzchok, who saw through prophecy that the bnei Yisroel would not be worthy in later generations and would have to relinquish some of their material possessions to the bnei Eisov, that he would end up receiving Yaakov's blessings, thus the fulfillment of "y'h'yeh." Eisov wanted actual rights to this, and was not satisfied with it only being passed on to him. He therefore hated Yaakov.
Ch. 18, v. 17: "Ervas ishoh u'vitoh lo s'ga'lei" - This is the prohibition to have relations with both one's wife and her daughter. According to the opinion that "ubor yerech imo," - a fetus is considered a limb of its mother (gemara Gitin 23b), why isn't it prohibited to have relations with one's wife while she is pregnant, as the husband is also having relations with the fetus, which might be female, and is thus her daughter? Answer next week.
Ch. 18, v. 19: "V'el ishoh b'nidas tumosoh lo sikrav" - Not only is it prohibited to have physical relations with a woman who is impure by virtue of menstruating, "nidoh," but even doing acts that bring one close to having such relationships is prohibited, as indicated by the words LO SIKRAV. The gemara Shabbos 13a-b in the name of the Yeshiva of Eliyohu relates that there was a young Torah scholar who died quite prematurely. His wife brought his tefillin to the Beis Hamedrash, the Torah study hall, and said, "My husband who learned Torah and served Torah scholars throughout his life has died at a very young age. Why did this happen?" No one was able to give her an answer. At a later date Eliyohu had occasion to stay in the home of the widow. He asked her about her relationship with her husband while she was in the state of "nidoh," when marital relations are prohibited. She responded that they kept the laws meticulously and never had relations. She added that during the days that she was still in a "nidoh" status and preparing for purification, "y'mei libun," they did sleep on the same bed, and the gemara explains that either the bed was very wide and they did not lie close to each other, or that she was well covered with a garment. Eliyohu pronounced, "Blessed be the Righteous Judge who was not swayed by this man's many merits. It is prohibited to even share a bed when one's wife is a "nidoh," and Hashem rightfully punished him."
One question raised on this story is why did Eliyohu specifically ask about marital matters. (Perhaps he actually raised many questions and eventually hit upon the one that gave him an understanding of Hashem's judgement, and the gemara only related that which was relevant.) Another question asked is why did she bring his tefillin along.
I recently heard an answer to both of these questions from R' Y.E. He feels that this story is connected with another one brought in the gemara Brochos 23a. The gemara relates that a young Torah scholar was wearing his tefillin, as was the custom to wear them all day long. He had the need to use bathroom facilities, and since it is inappropriate and prohibited to bring his tefillin into the bathroom, he removed them and left them outside, as "halacha" mandates. A harlot passed by and saw him remove his tefillin before entering the bathroom. When he had entered she took his tefillin and publicly announced that the scholar hired her services and gave her his tefillin as payment, "esnan zonoh." The young man was mortified and his embarrassment was so great and painful that he climbed a tree and fell off it to his death. R' E.Y. suggests that the man in the story in the gemara Brochos is one and the same as the man in the gemara Shabbos. We now have both our questions answered. The woman brought his tefillin along with her not to strengthen the question of why he died if he kept mitzvos meticulously, as there are many other mitzvos as well. Rather she brought them to question why her husband's being meticulous to wear tefillin all day and respecting their sanctity by his removing them before entering the bathroom brought about his death. The Torah sage rightfully asked about her marital relations with her husband since Hashem punishes in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh," and since his death came about through a false accusation regarding sexual matters, thus indicating to Eliyohu that the man was lax in the realm of marital relations.
Ch. 19, v. 3: "ISH imo v'oviv tiro'U" - Our verse begins in the singular form, ISH, and then continues in the plural form, tiro'U. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that the verse is teaching us that the responsibility to fear one's parent is incumbent not only on the child but on the parent as well. Although the gemara Kidushin 31a and the gemara Yerushalmi Pei'oh 1:1 tell us that a child must honour a parent even if the parent slaps the child without provocation, nevertheless, the parent must behave in a manner that does not put the child into the risk-laden position of rebelling against the parent, as the gemara Mo'eid Koton 17a says that there was a person who hit his adult son, and by doing so he has transgressed the sin of "v'lifnei i'veir lo si'tein mich'shol" (Vayikroh 19:14). Thus a person (singular) must be in awe of his parents, but both the child and the parents (plural) carry the responsibility to make the fulfillment of this mitzvoh a realistic likelihood.
Ch. 19, v. 3: "V'es Shabsosay tishmoru" - Why is this thought placed in the same verse as, and immediately after, the mitzvoh to hold one's parents in awe? The Nachal K'dumim answers that the Ari z"l writes that one who studies Torah on Shabbos and creates new Torah insights, "chidushim," brings great pleasure and honour to the departed soul of his parents. The Ari z"l writes that this concept is found in the writings of the Holy Zohar. We can thus interpret the guarding of Shabbos as learning Torah on Shabbos and this is a form of fulfillment of the earlier part of our verse.
I have a bit of difficulty in understanding the words of the Nachal K'dumim, as the Ari z"l writes that this is a form of HONOURING one's parents, while our verse is discussing the mitzvoh of holding one's parents in AWE, which is a different mitzvoh.
Ch. 19, v. 7: "V'im hei'o'cheil yei'o'cheil bayom hashlishi pigul hu lo yeirotzeh" - Rashi (gemara Z'vochim 28b) explains that this verse does not mean to teach us the invalidation of the sacrifice by virtue of thoughts of eating it beyond its prescribed time limit, known as "mach'shovas chutz lizmano," as that is already derived from Vayikroh 7:18. Rather it is discussing the person who is processing the sacrifice having in mind that it should be eaten beyond its prescribed physical boundaries, known as "mach'shovas chutz limkomo." This is alluded to from the verse itself. If we take the numeric value of this complete verse it exactly equals that of "B'chi'sheiv (with a Yud) chutz limkomo hakosuv ha'zeh m'da'beir." (Parp'ro'ose L'chochmoh)
Ch. 19, v. 9: "Lo s'cha'leh PAS sodcho" - Years before the Holy Admor of Gur, the Imrei Emes, immigrated to Eretz Yisroel he visited the Holy Land and among his stops was the famous Yeshivas Eitz Chaim. He noticed that the students were studying mishnayos Pei'oh. He raised the following question. The Torah prohibits cutting of one's "pei'ose" later in our parsha, "Lo sakifu PAS rosh'chem" (19:27). The prohibition is on cutting either of TWO "pei'ose." Yet here, the exact same word PAS is used, and the mitzvoh is to leave over but ONE corner. This question created quite a tumult in the Yeshivah with numerous answers being suggested. This question was asked much earlier by the Radba"z in his commentary on the Rambam hilchos matnas aniim 1:1.
An answer to his question can be found in the Ritv"o in his commentary on gemara Shvuos 2b d.h. "v'al hazokon." He says that a field need not have any specific shape. There might not be any corner at all if it is circular in shape. It might have many corners. Thus it is obvious that the intention of the Torah is that an edge be left over. The contour of the hair on everyone's head has two sideburns. Thus there are automatically two corners of hair on everyone's head. It is obvious that the intention of the Torah in this case is to prohibit cutting either corner.
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