by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS ACHAREI 5771 BS"D
Ch. 16, v. 1: "Acharei mose shnei bnei Aharon" - After the death of two of the sons of Aharon - This verse is a lead-in to the services done on Yom Kippur. The gemara Yerushalmi Yoma chapter #1 explains the prefacing of the death of Nodov and Avihu to Yom Kippur. Just as Yom Kippur provides atonement, so too, the death of the righteous brings atonement. These words of the gemara provide us with an understanding of the gemara K'suvos 103. The gemara says that on the day of the funeral of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi a voice issued forth from the heavens and proclaimed, "Whoever is present at the funeral of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi is fit to have "olom habo." Two issues can be raised on these words. Firstly, there were numerous other righteous people who died over the years and yet, there was no heavenly voice that announced this. Secondly, the gemara says "whoever," seemingly indicating that even someone whom we might think is not fit to have "olom habo" is also included. Based on the earlier gemara Yerushalmi it would seem that the death of the righteous brings about a limited atonement, as just as Yom Kippur offers atonement for those who repent, similarly, upon the death of the righteous, if they repent their negative ways atonement is proffered. By saying that the atonement is like that of Yom Kippur it means that it is more readily accepted. However, those who do not repent would not attain atonement similar to Yom Kippur. It is the opinion of Rabbi Yehudoh the Nossi that Yom Kippur affords atonement even for those who do not repent (gemara Yoma 85). On the day of his funeral he was accorded the honour of his opinion being accepted, and thus the death of the righteous offered atonement even for those who did not repent. This is the intention of "WHOEVER is present ……" (Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spector - Kovner Rov)
Ch. 16, v. 1: "B'korvosom lifnei Hashem" - With their coming close to Hashem - In a previous issue on parshas Shmini an explanation was offered for their act, which brought about their death. There is a level of cleaving to Hashem in such a profound and total manner that one's soul leaves his body and clings to Hashem, somewhat like a small flame being brought very close to a powerfully large flame, which draws the small fire away from its combustible source and actually extinguishing it. This is called "kalos nefesh" and the concept of coming closer but controlling the closeness so that it does not bring about an extinguishing of the soul is called "rotzo voshov." We might say that this concept is encapsulated in the word "b'korvosom" of our verse. The gemara in numerous instances takes a word that ends with Tof-Mem and separates the earlier part and then expounds on Tof-Mem to mean "tam" or "tamoh," complete/total. An example can be found in the present Daf Yomi subject of Torah-tefillin-mezuzoh is the expounding of the word "Uch'savTOM" to mean "ksivoh TAMOH," complete/perfect writing. We might say the same here. "B'korvosom" can be understood as "kreivoh TAMOH," a total closeness which brought about their death through "kalos nefesh." (n.l.)
Ch. 16, v. 4: "Kso'nes bad" - A tunic of linen - the gemara R.H. 26a says that when the Kohein Godol does the service inside the Mikdosh he wears no garments that contain gold, as gold is a prosecutor, reminding the nation of its sinning with the golden calf. The Kohein Godol is in the midst of defending and not prosecuting. This raises the obvious question: He should also not wear his regular eight garments, some of which do contain gold, when he does the service outside the Sanctuary building. The Lutzker Rov, Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin answers that when he is outside and in the view of numerous people the opposite is true. He should wear garments that contain gold, which in turn reminds the people of the grievous sin of the golden calf, and they will inturn ask Hashem for forgiveness. When he does his service inside the Sanctuary there is no one else present. There is no one for him to affect positively by wearing gold garments. We therefore change gears and apply the maxim of "Ein kateigor naa'seh sneigor."
Ch. 16, v. 30: "Ki ba'yom ha'zeh y'cha'peir a'leichem l'ta'heir es'chem mikole chato'seichem lifnei Hashem tit'horu" - Because on this day He will forgive you to purify you from all your sins in front of Hashem you will become purified - What do the last three words of this phrase add to our understanding? The verse tells us that on this special day of Yom Kippur Hashem readily accepts our contrition and repentance. One might then put aside any efforts at repenting before Yom Kippur. This is why the verse adds on, "lifnei Hashem tit'horu." Even before we will experience Hashem, the Holy Name of mercy, which readily forgives, nevertheless, "lifnei Hashem tit'horu," earlier, before the day of Hashem's merciful atonement we should begin our purification process. (n.l.)
Ch. 17, v. 13: "Asher yotzud tzeid chayoh o ofe …… v'shofach es dommo v'chi'seihu be'offor" - Who will hunt an animal or a bird …… when he will spill its blood he shall cover it with sand - The Rashbam explains that the blood should be mixed with sand so that the person should not come to consume it. This is most puzzling, as the blood of a domesticated animal requires no covering with sand, even though its meat is eaten and there seems to be the same concern. The Kli Yokor explains that when he has to exert himself to hunt and capture the undomesticated animal or bird, or pay a hefty price to acquire them from a hunter who has gone through this trouble, he feels that he should consume every possible bit of the animal or bird. Thus there is only a concern by a "chayoh" or "ofe."
Ch. 18, v. 3: "Uvchuko'seihem lo seileichu" - And in their statutes shall you not walk - Why doesn't the verse say to not follow their customs? What is the intention of expressing this prohibition as not following their statutes? Responsa Mahari"k #88, cited by the Ram"o Y.D. #178, writes that the prohibition does not apply to following their behaviour where there is some logic to it. For example, if the idol worshippers who are doctors wear a unique manner of garb that is recognized as the clothing of a medical person, a ben-Yisroel who is a doctor may likewise wear their style of clothing. It is only where there is no rhyme nor reason for wearing a certain style of clothing, where there is the possibility that it is based on idol worship statutes, that it is prohibited. This explains why it is expressed as "uvchukoseihem."
Ch. 18, v. 28: "V'lo soki ho'oretz es'chem" - So that the land will not vomit you - Why doesn't the verse express itself with another term, such as "geirush," as we find "Ki gorshu miMitzrayim?" The Ibn Ezra explains that the intention of the verse is to stress how the expulsion would ch"v be in totality, just as when one expectorates he does not bring the expelled food back into his body, so too, the expulsion will ch"v be permanent for the sin of immoral behaviour.
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