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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1: "Emor el haKohanim bnei Aharon .. l'nefesh lo yitamo" - Say to the Kohanim the sons of Aharon .. to a soul he shall not defile himself - The Holy Kotzker Rebbi interprets this to mean that a person should not defile his soul with "b'amov," coldness in doing mitzvos. The word "amov" is sourced from "um'mos," coals that are almost totally extinguished and give forth almost no heat.

A take-off on this might be as follows: We know that Aharon held the kindling of the menorah very dear. Rashi at the beginning of parshas B'haalos'cho comments that although Aharon did the menorah service daily for forty years he never changed, meaning that he performed the lighting fort years later with the same fire and enthusiasm as when he was initiated into priesthood and had just begun his lighting.

"NeFeSH," is an acronym for Ner, Psil, and Shemen. The children of Aharon should take a lesson from their illustrious father and not defile their Ner, Psil,Shemen service by doing this mitzvoh in an "um'mos" manner. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto" - And you shall sanctify him - Rashi writes that this be done "b'al korcho," usually understood as "EVEN if it is against his will." Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorke says that the intention is "SPECIFICALLY if it is against his will." Only a Kohein who does not want you to consider him holy should be sanctified.

Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto" - And you shall sanctify him - Included in "v'kidashto" is that we not make use of the Kohein for our personal needs. If so, how does one have a Kohein who is a slave? This question is raised by Hagohos Maimonis in hilchos avodim 3:8. Rabbi Meir Arik answers that the rule of "v'kidashto" does not apply to a Kohein who is a Torah boor, an "am ho'oretz." He brings a proof for his position from the gemara B'choros 26.

Ch. 21, v. 20: "O gi'bein" - There is a school of opinion that this flaw involves the Kohein's eyebrows. Either they are so thick and bushy that they cover the majority of his eyes (Rashi), or that the Kohein has a double set of eyebrows, one above the other, or that his two eyebrows extend over the bridge of his nose to the point that they look like one long continuous eyebrow, hence the singular "gi'bein." (Medrash Habiur)

Rambam in hilchos bi'as Mikdosh chapter 8 writes that it means that the Kohein lacks eyebrows. Targum Yerushalmi and Yonoson ben Uziel both say that this blemish mentioned in the Rambam is "dak" of our verse.

Finally, there is the opinion that this means a hunchback, with the word "gi'bein" sourced from "gav."

Ch. 23, v. 15: "Usfartem lochem" - And you shall count for yourselves - And you shall "purify" (sapir) yourselves. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 23, v. 18: "V'hikravtem al ha'lechem" - And you shall offer accompanying the bread - We have here the only "shlomim" sacrifice that is communal. Rabbi Meir Simchoh haKohein, the author of Meshech Chochmoh and Ohr So'mei'ach eulogized the Kovner Rov, Rabbi Yitzchok Elchonon Spektor. He said that people have the mistaken notion that a scholar who devotes all his time to Torah study is considered on the highest level, "kodesh kodoshim," while another scholar who has to divide his time between Torah study and tending to the needs of the community, for example a Rov, who has to render halachic rulings, etc., is relegated to a lower rung. However, this is not so, especially with Rabbi Spektor. Indeed, A full-time Torah scholar is like an "oloh" offering, which is "kodesh kodoshim," as it is totally consumed on the altar. So too, he is totally devoting his time to Torah study. A "shlomim" is relegated to a lower level, "kodoshim kalim," as portions of the sacrifice are consumed by the Kohanim and by the owners. However, "shalmei tzibur," those who devote a portion of their lives for the betterment of the community, are also "kodoshei kodoshim," and are on an equal footing with an "oloh." (Marbitzei Torah Mei'olom HaChasidus - Rabbi Aharon Surasky)

Ch. 23, v. 24: "Lochem Shabboson zichron tru'oh" - For you a holiday a remembrance of shofar sounding - The blessings recited during the Musof prayers that are uniquely for Rosh Hashonoh are, the bnei Yisroel's sanctifying the day as Rosh Hashonoh joined with Malchios, Zichronos, and Shofros. These are all alluded to in these words of our verse. "Lochem" contains the same letters as MeLeCH, King. Shabboson is the holiday Rosh Hashonoh. "Zichron" is remembrances, and "tru'oh" is "shofros." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 23, v. 33: "V'ini'sem es nafshoseichem b'sishoh lachodesh" - And you shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month - Although the straight-forward translation of these words seem to be saying that we should fast on the ninth day of the seventh month, the gemara Yoma tells us that the exact opposite is true, that it is a mitzvoh to eat on the ninth day. This is alluded to in the cantillation on the words 'b'sishoh lachodesh," which is "mahapach pashta." These names of the cantillation marks are literally translated as "The simple is overturned." The simple understanding of fasting is overturned and explained to mean that one should feast. (Rabbi Gavriel Gestetner of Szambatheli Hy"d)

Ch. 23, v. 38: "Milvad Shabsos Hashem - Besides Shabbosos of Hashem - This does not mean that we have just listed all the holidays (verse 37) and are now adding that there are other special days on the calendar, namely weekly Shabbosos. Rather, it is a continuum of "l'hakriv isheh" of verse 37. Besides the additional sacrifices offered on the Yomim Tovim there are also additional sacrifices on Shabbos, even when Shabbos and Yom Tov coincide. (Targum Yerushalmi Hasholeim, Ralbag, Rabbeinu M'yuchos)

Ch. 23, v. 43: "Ki vasukos hoshavti es bnei Yisroel" - Because in huts I have placed the bnei Yisroel - The "mesoroh" lists three verses that have the common word "ki." They are our verse, "Ki vorchov nolin" (Breishis 19:2), and "Ki ner mitzvoh v'Toroh ohr" (Mishlei 6:23). The Chid"o in Pnei Dovid explains the connection. He relates that when he was a child an explanation for this "mesoroh" was asked of a "chochom" and he gave no verbal response, but instead, wrote the letters Yud-Kof-Lamed-Mem-Nun-Samech-Ayin-Pei on a sheet of paper. Pnei Dovid explains that there are three mitzvos that require placement or structure of at least 10 handbreadths height and no more than twenty cubits. They are Sukoh, that its walls be at least ten handbreadths tall, but no more than twenty cubits high, alluded to in our verse, "ki vasukos," "eiruv," that the placement of a visible object, a "koreh," delineating the division between a "movuy" domain and the public street, (actually for "shitu'fei m'vu'os," but these terms are used interchangeably in the gemara Eiruvin) be between these same two heights, alluded to in "ki vorchov nolin," and Chanukah lights, that they too be placed no lower than ten handbreadths from the ground and no higher than twenty cubits, alluded to in "ki ner mitzvoh." This is the "mesoroh" connection.

We now come to the cryptic Yud-etc. message. It stands for "Yud Kosher L'maloh Mei'esrim Ner Sukoh Eiruv Posul."

I truly hope that this beautiful insight is enhanced and not marred by the following addition: The connection among these three mitzvos, each having the parameters of ten handbreadths and twenty cubits is actually found in the word "ki" itself. Kof has the value of twenty, while Yud has the value of ten. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 24, v. 17,18: "V'ish ki ya'keh kol nefesh odom mose yumos, Uma'kei nefesh b'heimoh y'shalmenoh" - And a man who will smite any soul of a man shall be put to death, And a smiter of an animal's soul shall pay - Sifri on Dvorim 23:8 says that one who causes his fellow ben Yisroel to sin has perpetrated a worse act than if he had killed him. Killing only involves the body, while causing him to sin is killing his soul, "godol hamachati'o min hohorgo." This is alluded to in these two verses. If one kills the "nefesh odom," his SOUL, by causing him to sin, he shall be put to death. The double expression "mose yumos" includes punishment in the world-to-come.

If he kills the "b'heimoh" of the person, only his physical body, he indeed has to pay, but by being killed by the court his sin is expiated and he will not suffer for this in the world-to-come. (A'keidas Yitzchok)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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