CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS ACHAREI 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Shnei bnei Aharon" - Why is it necessary to mention that two of Aharon's sons died, since this is clearly related in parshas Shmini?
2) Ch. 16, v. 1: "Shnei bnei Aharon" - Two sons of Aharon - The Toras Kohanim 1:32 lists among the reasons for the death of Nodov and Avihu that they did not take counsel from each other before embarking upon bringing fire for the incense. Other reasons are well understood, such as their not taking counsel from their father, but their not taking counsel one from the other seems illogical. Each one of them posited that this was the correct thing to do. How could their asking each other have brought about a different conclusion?
3) Ch. 16, v. 4: "V'rochatz bamayim es b'soro ulveishom" - And he shall cleanse his body in the water and then wear them - The gemara Yoma 32a says that not only when the Kohein Godol changed from his regular eight garments into the Yom Kippur four garments or reverse, was he required to immerse in a mikveh, but also at the end of Yom Kippur, when he took of his priestly garments he was required to immerse in a mikveh, before dressing himself in his regular weekday clothes. What is the point of immersing himself when there is no more service to perform?
4) Ch. 16, v. 10: "L'shalach oso laAzo'zeil hamodboroh" - To send it to the Azo'zeil to the desert - Contrast this with the service of burning the incense in the Holy of Holies, a scant 2 verses later. The A'zo'zeil offering is done outside the Mikdosh compound, a unique service. It is so unusual that the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh writes that had the Torah not specifically given a directive to do this it would cross the threshold of idol worship! While this is the only instance of a sacrifice offered outside the Mikdosh compound (Do not say that this is not a sacrificial offering, as we find the gemara Yoma 64a state that pushing it over the precipice is akin to slaughtering it, "d'chiyoso lotzuk heinu sh'chitoso." I have since found that this point is a dispute between Rabbi Shmuel and the Ibn Ezra at the end of his words on verse 8.), we find the other extreme, the incense being burnt in the Holy of Holies, again the only offering done in the holiest location in the world. What is embodied in these totally contrary services, one in a vast wasteland and the other in the Holy of Holies, both on Yom Kippur?
5) Ch. 16, v. 30: "Ki va'yom ha'zeh y'cha'peir a'leichem l'ta'heir" - Because on this day He will bring atonement upon you to purify - What connection is there between the "taharoh" mentioned in our verse with the seven days of creation?
The Holy Zohar answers that the verse is saying that upon their deaths they ceased being TWO sons of Aharon and their two souls fused into one soul. This became the soul of Pinchos. The Holy Zohar says that although Pinchos originally had a separate soul, he was so frightened upon entering the room where Zimri was sinning, fearing being killed by Zimri's fellow tribesmen, that his soul left him. Hashem revived him by placing the souls of both Nodov and Avihu into him. When these souls of Kohanim entered him, he became a Kohein. This is alluded to in Bmidbar 25:11. "Pinchos ben Elozor ben Aharon, - Pinchos the son of Elozor and also the son of Aharon," as he was now a reincarnation of Nodov and Avihu, "haKohein," is now a Kohein.
We can derive from this medrash how terribly biased a person is towards his own leanings and thoughts. Each of these brothers justified his intended actions. However, had one asked the other, he would have given the matter a sober unbiased assessment. This would have brought him to the correct conclusion that the act was improper. Once he would reach this conclusion he would then realize that he himself was planning to do the same, and would now refrain from acting improperly. (Rabbi Yoseif Dov haLevi Brisker of Yerusholayim)
This teaches us that not only when the Kohein Godol was about to embark upon doing holy service was he to elevate himself through immersion in a mikveh, but also when he was about to bring himself back to worldly physical activities he should prepare himself in sanctity to invest holiness even in his mundane activities. (Rabbi Shimshon R'foel Hirsch)
Perhaps this is symbolic of the extreme atonement we want to effect on this holiest of days. Sins have unfortunately accumulated since the previous motzo'ei Y.K. and are at their maximum on the following Y.K. We want to erase them all in one go on Y.K. This extreme, to bring us from a most sullied state to having a squeaky clean slate, is similar to the contrast between the desolate harsh desert, a place where the "goats of the evil powers dance" (see Ramban on this verse), and the Holy of Holies. (Nirreh li)
With our set calendar Yom Kippur can only fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Shabbos Kodesh. Items that were created on these days during the seven days of creation do not become defiled (see mishnoh Keilim 17:14).
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