by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS ACHAREI MOSE-K'DOSHIM 5762 BS"D
PARSHAS ACHAREI MOSE
Ch. 16, v. 2: "V'al yovo v'chol eis el hakodesh" - The gemara K'subos 50b says that one who supports his sons and daughters fulfills the verse "Ashrei shomrei mishpot osei tzedokoh v'chol eis" (T'hilim 106:3). Who does charity at all times? It is he who supports his sons and daughters. One might be misled into thinking that this great merit, one that is constant, will elevate him even though he is bereft of Torah knowledge and mitzvos. Our verse tells us, "v'al yovo v'chol eis," he cannot come only with the merit of "b'chol eis," supporting his children, but lacking other mitzvos, "el hakodesh," to a level of holiness. (The Holy Chozeh of Lublin in Toldos Yitzchok)
Ch. 16, v. 4: "V'rochatz bamayim es b'soro ulveishom" - In all other places that the Torah prescribes immersion in a mikveh, the verse says "v'rochatz b'soro bamayim," first mentioning what is to be immersed, "b'soro," and only afterwards "bamayim." Here we find the order reversed, "bamayim es b'soro." The mishneh Yoma 34b relates that the Kohein Godol would descend to immerse himself, ascend, and sponge himself dry. The Mishneh L'melech hilchos avodas Yom haKippurim 2:2 questions the need to sponge himself dry. He offers that it is either because we fear that when he immersed himself in the mikveh he might have picked up some object that stuck to his body, and halacha requires that nothing intervene between his body and his garments, or that the water itself might be an intervening object.
The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the gemara Z'vochim 18b derives from the word BOD in our verse that the garments of the Kohein Godol must be as good as new. This disqualifies using a garment that was soiled, even if it was laundered and there are no stains left. If the Kohein Godol were to not dry himself after immersion his wet body would detract from the crisp newness of his garments.
This is why the verse switches the order of the words. By saying "bamayim es b'soro," the verse is stressing that the water should only go onto his body and not onto the garments he will put on afterwards. This necessitates the need to dry himself.
Ch. 16, v. 8: "V'gorol echod laazo'zeil" - Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #46 says that this offering is a "bribe" to Satan. This is most puzzling since the M.R. Vayikroh 21:4 says that "hasoton," spelled Hei-Sin-Tes-Nun, has the numerical value of 364. This alludes to the fact that Satan only wields power on 364 days of the year, but not on Yom Kippur. If so, what need is there to bribe him on Yom Kippur?
The Sha"ch answers with a parable. When a highly placed minister receives a present, a.k.a. a bribe, although he is somewhat appreciative of the gift, he full well knows that it was given to move him to do a favour, etc. However, if he is deposed and then receives a present, he truly appreciates it, and is exceptionally grateful for the gift. We therefore give Satan a present on Yom Kippur, the day that he is powerless, so that he will be kinder to us throughout the rest of the year.
Ch. 16, v. 16: "Hashochein itom b'soch tumosom" - The gemara Yoma 56b derives from these words that even if the bnei Yisroel have defiled themselves with sins, Hashem's Sanctity remains within them. The Holy Baal Shem Tov writes that although this is true regarding sins, but when it comes to the abominable trait of haughtiness, "gaavoh," which is worse than sin itself, as per the Chovas Halvovose Shaar Avodas hoElokim chapter 4 level 9, Hashem does not remain with him. The gemara Sotoh 5a derives from the words "G'vah einayim urchav leivov oso lo uchol" (T'hilim 101:5) that Hashem cannot reside with a haughty arrogant person.
Ch. 19, v. 17: "Hochei'ach tochiach es ami'secho" - Rashi on the gemara Kidushin 30a d.h. "adidoch" writes that after a person is 16 years old he no longer accepts rebuke from his father.
Ch. 19, v. 27: "Lo sakifU p'as rosh'CHEM v'lo sash'chis eis p'as z'ko'necho" - The first prohibition in this verse is expressed in the plural form, while the second is expressed in the singular form. The Meshech Chochmoh explains this with the gemara Nozir 57b. There is an opinion brought that there is a Torah prohibition to remove the sideburns of a minor. Tosfos d.h. "v'Rav Ada" says that according to this opinion it is likewise prohibited for a man to cut the sideburns of a woman. The Meshech Chochmoh says that this is why the verse says "rosh'CHEM," in the plural form, to indicate that it is also prohibited to do this to a woman. The later prohibition against shaving one's beard is limited to doing it to a man only, hence the singular form is used. Alternatively, he offers that according to the opinion in the gemara Nozir 41a that "hakofas kol horosh lo shmei hakofoh," - shaving all the hair of one's head including the sideburns is not a transgression of this law, there is no exception to this rule. Even when one shaves the head of a "metzoro" in his purification ritual, all the hair of the head is removed, and this does not push aside "lo sakifu." Therefore the Torah expresses the prohibition in the plural form, to indicate that it applies to all circumstances. When shaving the beard of a "metzoro" the prohibition of "v'lo sash'chis eis p'as z'ko'necho" is pushed aside, so to indicate the limited application of the prohibition, it is expressed in the singular form.
While on the subject of shaving one's head and beard, the Meshech Chochmoh brings Breishis M.R. 11:6, where a philosopher asked Rabbi Hoshia, "Why do you shave the hair of your head but not that of your beard?" Rabbi Hoshia responded that the hair of the head grows in "shtus," foolishness, while the hair of the beard grows "in wisdom." On a simple level this is understood to mean that the hair of the head begins to grow when we are very young, a time when we are immature, while the hair of one's beard begins to grow when we have already reached the age of majority. However, the Meshech Chochmoh offers a much deeper understanding of the response of Rabbi Hoshia. He says that although the Torah sometimes gives us mitzvos that are a safeguard to avoid doing an even greater sin, Hashem has not built safeguards into the way the world functions. However, there is an exception with the sin of not mingling and sinning with women. Beyond the physical differences between a man and a woman that are required for their specific functions, Hashem created man with the nature of growing a beard, while a woman does not. This is done so that one can immediately differentiate between a man and a woman. This creates a safeguard against sinning.
This is the intention of Rabbi Hoshia when he said that the beard grows "in wisdom," meaning that is purpose is to safeguard against sin. The gemara N'dorim 9b relates the story of a young man who had very beautiful hair that brought him to Narcissian self admiration. To avoid having this attractive feature bring him to sin, he vowed to become a Nozir, which necessitated his totally shaving his head (Bmidbar 6:18), thus removing enticement. We see that hair of the head can bring one to sin, hence Rabbi Hoshia's response that hair of the head is grown in "foolishness," as any sin is done only when a spirit of foolishness enters a person (see Rashi on Bmidbar 5:12).
Ch. 19, v. 30: " Es Shabsosai tishmoru u'Mikdoshi tiro'u" - The mishneh in Pirkei Ovos 4:2 says that Torah study in tandem with pursuit of a livelihood makes one forget (distanced from) sinning. Either this is because the combination of the two totally occupies a person, leaving him with no strength to sin (Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura), or because Torah study teaches one to not sin, and coupled with pursuit of a livelihood, a person avoids being tempted to steal for lack of sustenance (M'iri).
However, when one keeps Shabbos he is not occupied with work on that day and has ample opportunity to sin. This is compounded when Yom Tov comes and he has even more free time, and added to this he mingles with women who come to the assembly at the houses of prayer and lectures, as per the gemara Kidushin 81a, "sakva d'shata rigla," - the most wobbly (insecure) time of the year is Yom Tov. This means that at that time of the year one's spiritual level falters, as he mixes with women at public assemblies in the house of prayer. The Rambam hilchos Yom Tov 6:21 writes that community heads should appoint officers to see to it that men and women do not assemble for lightheadedness, as this can lead to severe sinning.
This is the intention of our verse. "Es Shabsosai tishmoru," when you keep Shabbos properly, and thus have free time on your hands, "u'Mikdoshi tiro'u," make sure to behave with trepidation and fear in the places of public assembly. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 19, v. 31: "Al T'VAKSHU l'tomoh vo'hem" - The prohibition against defiling oneself through involvement with the occult is expressed most unusually, "al T'VAKSHU," - you shall not SEEK to defile yourselves. The gemara Sanhedrin 68a says that the prohibition against involvement with the occult is limited to learning the subject matter with the intent to use it, but not if the intent is to learn what is prohibited and what is allowed. Rashi on Dvorim 18:9 says a similar point. This is why the verse ends with "ani Hashem Elokeichem." This expression is often used to indicate that even if a person has a loophole to do something that is basically prohibited, but with certain intentions it is allowed, Hashem knows all that is in a person's heart, and knows his true intention. If a person will study the occult under the guise of learning it to differentiate between the prohibited and the permitted, Hashem knows if it is really so, or if he really has in mind to learn this subject with the intention of using it. (Meshech Chochmoh)
Ch. 19, v. 35 "Lo saasu o'vel bamishpot bamidoh bamishkol u'vamsuroh" - Do not commit a misdeed "with justice" by way of measurements, weight, or volume. You know that someone owes you money, but you cannot recover it. When he comes to purchase something from you that has to be measured or weighed, you might feel that it is justified to shortchange him in order to recover part or all of what he owes you. This verse tells us to not cheat to recover it. (Meshech Chochmoh)
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org