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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS EMOR 5768 BS"D

Ch. 21, v. 1: "Emor el haKohanim v'omarto" - Say to the Kohanim and you shall say - The double expression of "amiroh" teaches us "L'hazhir g'dolim al haktanim." When the adults transmit the Torah to the young, it should be in a manner that the Torah glows and shines, "l'hazhir" from the source word "zohar." (Nirreh li)

Ch. 21, v. 7: "V'ishoh grushoh mei'ishoh lo yikochu" - And a woman divorced from her husband they shall not take - Responsa Chasam Sofer E.E. 2:174 relates that in Austria a highly positioned Kohein took a fancy to a madam who was divorced. Her previous marriage was such that the husband was of the classification that even if he did not want to divorce his wife, his behaviour was such that the Rabbis may force him to divorce his wife, and this is exactly what happened. The Kohein claimed that the Torah only prohibits a divorcee to a Kohein because she is considered inappropriate for a Kohein, given that she was such a defective wife that she was divorced. Here, she was a very proper wife and it was a forced divorce, with all the blame of the severance on the former husband. This in no way blemishes the woman for a Kohein. He readily agreed that the Rabbis prohibit this, but since their "Rabbinic stringency" is not written in the Torah, he is not bound to their rulings. Of course, the Rabbonim did not accept this and categorically refused to allow him to marry the divorcee.

Being a man of highly-placed connections, he brought his case before ministers, and it eventually was brought as a theo-civil complaint to the king of Austria, who was quite intrigued with the reasoning. Not wanting to force the Rabbis to go against the laws of their religion, but at the same time, wanting to treat the petitioner fairly, he decided that a scholarly Jew, but specifically not a Rabbi, be asked to decide. An "enlightened" Jew was visiting the capitol city and was apprised of the case, and asked to rule. The Chasam Sofer, at this point, interjects that this person had already died at the time of writing this response, and that as a not religious person he had many sins, but that his death and his decision in this case be a merit for his soul.

He said that the Kohein was totally in the wrong. He has caught himself in a catch 22 situation. If he does not accept the rulings of the Rabbis, and only that which is explicit in the Torah, then the woman was never properly divorced, as the Torah clearly states that the man must instigate the divorce. It is the Rabbis who instituted that in certain given situations they would take action to force a divorce (done in an halachic manner that complies with the rule that the husband do so of his own free will, just the Rabbis guide him to do what he really wants to do of his own volition). If he accepts their ruling to consider the woman divorced, then he must likewise accept their ruling that this woman is just as divorced as a woman who divorced by her husband's wishes without Rabbinical intervention, and as such, she is prohibited to him as a divorcee. If he does not accept this, then she is still married to another. The king accepted this and the sin was not committed.

Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'kidashto ki es lechem Elokecho hu makriv" - And you shall sanctify him because he eats the bread of your G-d - The public supports the Kohanim, and all the more so the Kohein Godol. The natural attitude towards one who is supported by another is to hold the recipient in lower esteem. Even if the recipient holds a high public position and the masses treat him with respect, it is usually only externally, while in their hearts, each person has limited, if any, respect.

This is why the Torah stresses that the Kohein Godol should be sanctified because he is sustained by Hashem's bread. That which the public gives is to Hashem, and the Kohein in turn, eats from "Hashem's elevated table." This would also explain why the Ibn Ezra stresses that "v'kidashto" encompasses "b'machashovoh uvdibur." (Imrei Chein)

Ch. 21, v. 9: "Es ovihoh hee m'cha'le'les" - Her father she profanes - Why is all the blame placed on the father, and none of it on her mother? The Kohanim were the elite of the bnei Yisroel and readily found wives. They could easily choose an exceptionally moral spouse. Even if the mother had a bad influence upon her daughter, which is indeed a likelihood, nevertheless, the father is still to blame for choosing an improper wife.

Ch. 23, v. 22: "Uvkutz'r'chem es k'tzir artz'chem" - And when you harvest the harvest of your land - These words are expressed in plural form, including that the land is "yours." This is done to prod the land owner into understanding that although he is leaving over a small section of the produce in the field for people who have not invested in ownership, plowing, fertilizing, planting, harvesting, etc., nevertheless they deserve a portion because the land is not only "mine," it is also "ours." The portion of the poor man is under the stewardship of the landowner. (Chasam Sofer)

Ch. 23, v. 27: "Ach be'ossor lachodesh hashvii ha'zeh" - Only on the tenth of this seventh month - A person might not properly repent on Yom Kippur, thinking that "if not this year there is always the next and the next " This is why our verse stresses ACH and HA'ZEH. Look at this Yom Kippur as if it is the only one you will ever have, and you will properly repent. (Rabbi Osher of Stolin)

Ch. 23, v. 32: "V'ini'sem es nafshoseichem b'shisoh lachodesh" - And you shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month - The gemara Yoma explains this to mean that one is required to eat on the eve of Yom Kippur. Why doesn't the verse spell this out?

1) Eating is pleasant, while fasting is afflicting. By expressing the mitzvoh of eating as fasting, we will be given a reward for eating commensurate to having fasted.

2) If the Torah would have clearly articulated that the mitzvoh is to eat, people would be so involved in eating up to the last minute, and it would be difficult to have a minyan for "kol nidrei." (Dubner Magid)

3) An insight reverse of the previous one: If the Torah would spell out the mitzvoh to eat, the yeitzer hora would make people lose their appetites. (Nirreh li)

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


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