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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1: "Emor el haKohanim" - Say to the Kohanim - The mentioning of mitzvos that are exclusive to Kohanim comes on the heels of the prohibition of not seeking information from the occult, "ove" and "yidoni," so that if a person were to ask, "If I am prohibited from asking "ove" and "yidoni "what the future holds, from where will I get this information, the Torah gives us the laws pertaining to Kohanim, indicating that Hashem gives us the Kohein Godol, who wears the Choshen, which contains the "urim v'tumim," from which this information can be gotten. (Medrash Tanchuma brought by Baal Haturim). This might explain why the Kohein Godol is prohibited to defile himself with dead people. If he were permitted, one might believe that it is through involvement with the dead that he gleans his knowledge of what the future holds. (Tiferes Y'honoson)

Ch. 21, v. 1: "L'nefesh lo yitamo" - To a soul he shall not defile himself - As mentioned earlier, this verse tells the adult Kohanim to be vigilant in seeing to it that the young Kohanim likewise not defile themselves. Why is there a stress on the special supervision for this prohibition more than any other sin? No doubt, the Kohein has to train his children to not transgress any sin, but included in his overall training is the osmosis absorbed by placing his sons into a Torah observant environment. His sons' friends likewise abide by the Torah's rules. When it comes to not defiling oneself through a dead body, this component of training does not exist. The vast majority of his friends are not Kohanim and will defile themselves. Therefore there is a need for the Kohein to be extra vigilant in warning his sons to not defile themselves. (Oznayim laTorah)

Ch. 21, v. 7: "Ishoh zonoh vachaloloh lo yikochu v'ishoh grushoh mei'ishoh" - A woman who is either a zonoh or a desecrated and a woman who is divorced from her husband - When the Torah lists the women who are prohibited to a Kohein Godol the order of these three women is reversed, "ugrushoh vachaloloh zonoh." This is because our verse logically begins with the most obvious, the woman with the greatest blemish, the harlot, then a woman who is tainted by being born from a union of sin, and finally, a woman who was divorced. By the Kohein Godol the Torah begins the list with the "chidush," the added prohibition over a regular Kohein, the widow. She has the smallest blemish. Once we begin this list with the woman with the smallest blemish, we follow through with the smaller blemishes up to the greatest. (Tur in the name of his father the Rosh)

Ch. 21, v. 9,10: "Bo'aish tiso'reif, V'haKohein haGodol" - She shall be burned by fire, And the Kohein Godol - This juxtaposition alludes to what happened to Yehoshua ben Y'ho'tzodok Kohein Godol. His sons joined in improper unions with foreign women and he did not attempt to stop them. He was therefore punished by being burned (gemara Sanhedrin 93a). (Nachal K'dumim in the name of the Rokei'ach)

Ch. 22, v. 32: "V'lo s'chal'lu es shem kodshi" - And you shall not desecrate My Holy Name -The Holy Chofetz Chaim's son writes that his father continuously said that the is the most severe sin is that of desecrating Hashem's Holy Name. He would often quote the words of the Ye'rei'im mitzvoh #7 that this sin descends to the depths of "t'home," the deepest recesses of the earth, and is the greatest of all anguishes.

In his father's very old age he was unable to read from a sefer.

Nevertheless, he requested that a sefer always be open in front of him, and most of the time it was a Chumash. He explained that if someone would see him seemingly just whiling away his time, this would be a terrible desecration of Hashem. This is similar to the gemara Yoma 86a, where Rabbi Yochonon said that if he would walk 4 cubits without Torah study or without tefillin, it would be a "chilul Hashem." (Dugma Misichos Ovi)

When the Holy Admor of Satmar came to America he observed that when a Yeshiva bochur who sported a beard and peyos and had his tzitzis strings visible, sometimes even a "frum" Yid would criticize him and say that he was a walking "chilul Hashem," as such dress was most unbecoming in America. He said that he b"H merited to eradicate this "chilul Hashem." (Olomos Shechorvu)

Ch. 23, v. 2: "Mikro'ei kodesh" - Festivals of sanctity - The gemara Chagigoh 18a says that the intermediate days of Pesach and Sukos, "cholo shel mo'eid," are also "mikro'ei kodesh." The gemara Yerushalmi M.K. 2:3 quotes Rabbi Abba bar Mamal who says that of he would find another person who would join forces with him, he would institute that people pursue their livelihoods on "cholo shel mo'eid." The reason that one should not work at this time is so that he would be free to enjoy the festival through eating, drinking, and toiling in Torah study. However, people just eat, drink, and fool around. It is better that they go to work. The Kol Bo derives from this that it is better to work on "cholo shel mo'eid" than to just waste one's time.

Ch. 24, v. 22: "Mishpat echod y'h'yeh lochem ka'geir ko'ezroch" - One law there shall be for you the same for the convert the same for the citizen - Verse 10 begins the tale of the blasphemer. It ends with verse 23, where the Torah relates that he was put to death. It is most unusual for the Torah to interrupt this with the laws of injuring and killing of people and animals. Although commentators explain this, for example: Hashem told Moshe that he who blasphemes Hashem is put to death, and hand-in-hand with this was told that Hashem likewise respects the bnei Yisroel and if they are either injured or killed retribution is likewise extracted, be it the death penalty or monetary payment, but it would seem that it would suffice to state this in a separate parsha, immediately following ours, to show the connection. Why is killing and injuring plunked down right here, without even a dividing parsha space, and a mere one verse before the completion of the blasphemer story?

Possibly, we might say that if one were to read this story he would wonder, "Although he transgressed a very nasty sin, nevertheless, why was this person put to death? After all, all he did was say something, not do something." He might come to the incorrect conclusion that the bnei Yisroel were quick to spill this man's blood because he was a convert (see Rashi on verse 10 d.h. "b'soch"). Therefore the Torah tells us specifically just before the verse that relates his being put to death, the laws of injuring and killing your fellow man. This concludes in our verse with "kaGEIR ko'ezroch," that the convert is on an equal footing with the person who was born Jewish. If you kill the convert you will be put to death. If you injure him you must pay. If you damage his property you must likewise pay. This is part and parcel of the parsha. Immediately after hearing this, the bnei Yisroel put him to death, fully aware of the gravity of the life of a convert. This might be why verse 23 says they carried out the death penalty "kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe," referring also to the command to hold dear the blood of a convert. See Sforno on verse 23. Perhaps he alludes to this insight.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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