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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 2: "V'yoldoh zochor v'tomoh" - The Holy Admor of Kotzk explains the cause of defilement after giving birth with the gemara Taanis 2a. The gemara says that although Hashem gives out keys (sends out intermediaries) for many functions, there are three keys which He does not relinquish, but rather He personally intervenes in carrying out these three functions. They are the keys for rainfall, the resurrection of the dead, and birth. This explains the words in Breishis 30:22, "Va'yiftach HASHEM es rachmoh." Since Hashem's Holy Presence is in attendance at every birth, upon leaving, there is such a void of sanctity that it brings about defilement. This is similar to the defilement caused by a dead body, which is caused by the departure of the sanctity of a Jewish soul.

Ch. 12,v. 2: "Nidas" - The Ramban says that the root form for this word is the same as for the word "niduy," meaning excommunication. The impurity brought about by a woman's menses restricts her from contact with many sanctified objects, such as Trumoh, as well as a prohibition of having marital relations. The Rashbam says that the source of this word is the same as "voNOD t'h'yeh bo'o'retz" (Breishis 4:14), meaning moving, flowing.

Ch. 12, v. 3: "U'va'yom hashmini yimol" -

1) The Zohar on Vayikroh page 44 and the Yalkut Shimoni on parshas Emor remez #643 say that by waiting eight days, the infant will have lived through a Shabbos. He requires this sanctity before being circumcised.

2) The Yalkut Shimoni (Breishis remez #82) says that Hashem had mercy upon the infant and said to wait until he has some strength to endure the circumcision procedure.

3) The gemara Nidoh 31b says that since the birth puts the mother into a status of not being permitted to have marital relations, the Torah said that the circumcision should wait until the eighth day, by which time the mother can purify herself and be allowed to have marital relations. Then at the time of the circumcision even the parents can also be totally happy, along with everyone else.

4) The Sforno says that the reason for the delay in circumcising until the eighth day is because the newborn boy still has a level of defilement until then because until the eighth day he is still being sustained from the residual menstrual blood he had imbibed before birth.

Someone asked the GR"A, "If a law is clearly based on a specific reason and that reason clearly does not apply any more, does the ruling still stand?" The GR"A said the fact that we still circumcise on the eighth day proves that the ruling still stands. His student explained it with the above-mentioned gemara. Since today we have an extended period of prohibition of marital relations that goes beyond the eighth day after a birth, we should have the circumcision pushed off accordingly. Yet we do not. This proves that even if the reason does not apply, the ruling does not change. According to reasons #1, #2, and #4 mentioned above, there are other reasons for circumcision on the eighth day and it has nothing to do with the mother purifying herself by the eighth day.

The concept mentioned above in the name of the Zohar and the Yalkut Shimoni does not only apply to people. The Yalkut in parshas Emor remez #643 says that the reason for an animal not being accepted as a sacrifice before eight days (Vayikroh 22:27) is the same as for circumcision not being allowed before eight days, so that they live through a Shabbos.

This goes beyond animals as well. There is a ruling that if one wants to partake of bread and has two breads available to him, one a complete loaf and one an incomplete loaf, either of which he is ready to eat, he should make the blessing "Hamotzi" over the complete loaf. The Machazor Vitri (a Rishon) says that if the complete bread was just recently baked and was not existent as a loaf of bread before Shabbos, and the incomplete bread was baked before Shabbos, the blessing should be made over the incomplete loaf since it has existed during a Shabbos. Such is the power of Shabbos that it imbues sanctity even into bread. No doubt this applies to inanimate objects as well.

We have given a few reasons for circumcision not taking place before eight days. Why shouldn't it take place later, when the baby is stronger? The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 3:49 answers that one's love for his child increases as the child grows. The love for a newborn is not the same as for a one year old, nor is that the same as the love for a six year old. Had the Torah given the mitzvoh of circumcision when the child would be two or three years old, there is a fear that the father with his ever-growing love for his son, would refuse to pain his son with circumcision, and the mitzvoh would simply not be done.

Perhaps another reason for the eighth day cut-off date is because Hashem knows that a healthy baby can withstand the surgical procedure of circumcision, but at the same time wants some level of sacrifice, "mesiras nefesh," on the part of the parents. If circumcision would take place when the child is a few years old, he would be quite strong at that time and the circumcision would be lacking this vital component. Indeed, the gemara Gitin 57b says regarding the verse, "Ki O'lecho horagnu kol ha'yom, - We have risked death for you all day" (T'hilim 44:23), that this refers to circumcision of a child at the tender age of eight days.

Ch. 12, v. 6: "U'ven yonoh o sore l'chatos" - Wherever the Torah mentions a young dove and a mature turtledove as a sacrifice, the Torah mentions the turtledove first. Why is the order changed here? The Baal Haturim answers that in the other places two birds are brought. This gives us the possibility that the sacrificial pair of birds might be a couple that has mated. However, in our verse, but one bird is used as a sacrifice. The gemara Eiruvin and the P'sikto Zut'r'so Vayikroh 1:14 both say that the turtledove has such a high level of fidelity to its mate that if its mate dies or is captured it no longer seeks another mate for the rest of its life. Since only one is taken this would leave a lone mate living out the rest of its days in utter solitude. The Torah therefore mentions taking a young dove first, as the preferable choice.

The Meshech Chochmoh asks why even a woman of financial means brings a bird as an atonement offering and not a lamb or goat, as is the case with one who is required to bring a chatos offering.

He answers that the reason a woman requires atonement altogether after giving birth is because we assume that during the severe pangs of labour pains in the birthing process the mother has vowed to never become pregnant again.

Obviously this cannot be fulfilled, as a woman has the responsibility of having marital relations with her husband. She therefore has to bring an atonement for this vow which is an act of rebellion against her husband. As just mentioned above, the turtledove has the nature of having total fidelity and commitment to its partner. The Torah therefore requires of the woman who has given birth and vowed to not have relations with her husband again, to learn a lesson from the turtledove, which is totally committed to its partner.

Ch. 12, v. 8: "Echod l'chatos v'echod l'oshom" - Why by the chatos offering of a poor person who accidentally transgressed a sin which carries the excision penalty for intentional sinning (Vayikroh 5:7), is the replacement for the sheep TWO birds, while here it is only ONE bird for the oloh replacement?

This can be answered by saying that we would need only one bird by the chatos as well. We have a second bird as an oloh only for the purpose of not depriving the altar of its portion. If only a bird chatos were to be brought, the altar would receive no burned portion. One bird for an oloh serves that purpose. Here there is an oloh in any case; just it is reduced to a bird for the poor person. This is a proof for the Ibn Ezra mentioned in parshas Vayikroh 5:7.

Ch. 13, v. 2: "Odom" - There are four words in Loshon Hakodesh that mean MAN. They are Odom, Enosh, Ish, and Gever. The highest level of man is called ODOM. Indeed, it is the only one of these four words that has no plural form, indicating the uniqueness and singularity of man. If so, why is the word ODOM used here where the verse discusses the plague of "tzoraas" appearing on the skin of a man?

1) The Apir'yone (Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried) answers that it is specifically because only bnei Yisroel are called ODOM (gemara Y'vomos 61a), a unified person, a title which has no plural form, that a "nega" effects him. This affliction comes for shortcomings listed in the gemara Arochin 16a, which are reasons for divisiveness, a contradiction to ODOM, one unified body. This is an insight into why "nega" afflictions do not halachically affect non-Jews, as per the mishneh N'go'im 11:1, since they are constantly in a state of divisiveness, and as such the term ODOM cannot apply to them.

2) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that it is only in an elevated person, an ODOM, that the "tzoraas" is limited to the outside surface, "ki y'h'yeh b'ORE b'soro," and not "b'socho," totally entrenched within him.

3) Perhaps it is only an ODOM, a great person, who merits to be given a heavenly sign that something is amiss with his spiritual level. We see in later generations that had a spiritual decline that the "nega tzoraas" has ceased to appear.

4) It takes a great person, an ODOM, to admit his shortcomings and appear in front of the Kohein to be examined for this physical disorder which is an indication of a spiritual disorder. One does not lose the appellation ODOM by sinning. No one is perfect. Indeed, we find in Koheles 7:20, "Ki ODOM ein tzadik bo'o'retz asher yaa'seh tov v'lo yecheto." Even if one sins he retains the title ODOM. By not seeking to correct his shortcomings one loses this title. (Rabbi Nisim Alpert zt"l)

Ch. 13, v. 2: "L'nega tzoro'as" - The Rambam and Sforno say that one should not think that "nega tzoraas" is a dermatological disorder, but rather it is a Heavenly ordained reaction to a spiritual shortcoming. The gemara Arochin 16a in the name of Rabbi Yochonon says that "nega tzoraas" is a result of one of seven sins. Although the Ibn Ezra surely agrees that "nega tzoraas" is a result of sinning, he says that it is a disease which is contagious and this is the reason the Torah requires him (13:25) to announce wherever he goes that he is defiled by the "nega tzoraas," and it is also why he is quarantined by being sent outside of the encampment during the forty years the bnei Yisroel were in the desert, and being sent outside cities, once they lived in Eretz Yisroel. According to the Ibn Ezra why does the Torah make an allowance for a person who is in his week of celebrating his marriage and all people during Yom Tov from having to appear in front of a Kohein for an examination (see gemara Mo'eid Koton 7b) if this condition is contagious?

Ch. 13, v. 45: "V'to'mei to'mei yikroh" - Targum Onkeles, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, and the Ibn Ezra say that the expression "to'mei to'mei" refers back to "V'hatzoru'a" at the beginning of this verse and is a direct quote of the two words that the person afflicted with the "tzoraas" says. However the Rambam in hilchos tumas tzoraas 10:6 says that the first word "to'mei" refers to the person afflicted with the "tzoraas," and he, the "tomei," shall say the one word "tomei."

Answers to last week's questions:

1) The gemara Yoma 22b says that only a person who has a "basket of vermin hanging behind him," in our colloquial "skeletons in the closet," should be chosen as a leader.

Moshe had the position of leader of the bnei Yisroel. The gemara Z'vocim 102b even says that he had the status of a king. What was the "skeleton in his closet?"

The Chizkuni and the Tosfos Hasho'leim on Shmos 6:20 say that Moshe's being born from a union between a man (Amrom) and his aunt (Yocheved), which would be prohibited when the Torah was given (Vayikroh 18:12), is the "skeleton" in Moshe's closet. The Daas Z'keinim says that this is the reason the Torah did not mention the excision punishment "ko'reis" overtly when one marries an aunt.

This answer would also pre-empt the need to find a "skeleton" in Aharon's closet, as mentioned last week on 9:7 in the name of the Moshav Z'keinim, as Aharon was also a product of the same set of parents. The Chizkuni and the Tosfos Hasho'leim would explain "L'KACH nivcharto" differently, perhaps choosing one of the other four offerings mentioned last week.

Alternatively, perhaps there is no need to have a flaw in Moshe to allow him to assume the position of leadership. The gemara Yoma 22b says that a flaw is required to keep the person in the position of authority from becoming haughty as it might go to his head and he might act improperly. However, regarding Moshe, about whom the Torah says, "V'ho'ish Moshe ONOV M'ODE mikole ho'odom asher al pnei ho'adomoh" (Bmidbar 12:3), there is no fear of his becoming haughty and behaving improperly.

2) Although many reasons are given for Nodov and Avihu deserving to die, why did Aharon deserve to suffer the death of two of his children?

Rashi on Vayikroh 10:12 d.h. "Hanosorim" says that Aharon's sin was his involvement with the golden calf, and if not for Moshe's intervention with prayer, Aharon would have also lost his other two sons. See also Rashi on Dvorim 9:20 d.h. "Vo'espa'leil.

The medrash says that the names Nodov and Avihu were given to Aharon's first two sons by his wife Elisheva. She named her first son Nodov as a shortened form of the name of her father AmiNODOV. She named her second son Avihu, meaning, "He is my father," again as a remembrance of her father. Although it would seem that Aharon was very magnanimous in allowing his wife the privilege of naming their first two sons, he was punished by their death, by not giving a name in honour of his side of the family. Bowing to his wife's wishes at the expense of not perpetuating the honour of his family made him deserving of this punishment.

3) Which animal species both chews its cud and has totally split hooves, and yet is still forbidden to be eaten? The forbidden species is the "Sh'suoh" (Dvorim 14:7). This answer is according to the opinion of the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel on that verse. See also gemara Nidoh 24a and Tosfos Chulin 60b d.h. "V'chi Moshe."



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