Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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OROH V'SIMCHOH - MESHECH CHOCHMOH ON PARSHAS ACHAREI - BS"D

Ch. 16, v. 4: "V'rochatz bamayim es b'soro ulveishom" - In all other places that the Torah prescribes immersion in a mikveh, the verse says "v'rochatz b'soro bamayim," first mentioning what is to be immersed, "b'soro," and only afterwards "bamayim." Here we find the order reversed, "bamayim es b'soro." The mishneh Yoma 34b relates that the Kohein Godol would descend to immerse himself, ascend, and sponge himself dry. The Mishneh L'melech hilchos avodas Yom haKippurim 2:2 questions the need to sponge himself dry. He offers that it is either because we fear that when he immersed himself in the mikveh he might have picked up some object that stuck to his body, and halacha requires that nothing intervene between his body and his garments, or that the water itself might be an intervening object.

The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the gemara Z'vochim 18b derives from the word BOD in our verse that the garments of the Kohein Godol must be as good as new. This disqualifies using a garment that was soiled, even if it was laundered and there are no stains left. If the Kohein Godol were to not dry himself after immersion his wet body would detract from the crisp newness of his garments.

This is why the verse switches the order of the words. By saying "bamayim es b'soro," the verse is stressing that the water should only go onto his body and not onto the garments he will put on afterwards. This necessitates the need to dry himself.

Ch. 18, v. 28: "V'lo soki ho'oretz es'chem b'tamaachem osoh kaa'sher ko'oh es hagoy" - The verse seems to contradict itself by saying that you will NOT be expelled when you DO contaminate the land.

A number of interpretations:

You will not be treated as the heathen nations who have occupied this land before you and have been ejected, but rather:

1) Not only will you be expelled, but you will also suffer the punishment of excision, "ko'reis," as stated in verse 29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos ho'osos. (Rabbi Moshe of Kutzi)

2) If you fulfill the words of verse 26, "ushmartem v'lo saasu," then you will be saved from punishment. Translate "V'lo" as LEST. (Rabbeinu Elyokim)

3) You will also be expelled, but in a manner which will be more severe than the expulsion of the heathen nations. (Rivo)

4) They have only been expelled, but did not suffer the punishment of "ko'reis." You, however, will not be expelled, but will be punished with "ko'reis." (Baalei Hatosfos)

5) These words are read "bitmioh," won't the land expel you? (Otzar Rishonim)

6) The Toras Kohanim 20:123 (mentioned in Rashi) compares sinning in E.Y. to a prince who had a sensitive digestive system, as he was used to only the finest of foods and delicacies. Any coarse alimentation would upset his system. Similarly, E.Y. is very sensitive to sins. Those who sin would be expelled. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH says in the name of his father that according to the above parable, if the prince continued to eat coarse food he would eventually grow accustomed to it and would successfully digest it. Likewise, if E.Y. would ch"v be subject to continuous sinning, it would also become desensitized.

This can be the meaning of our verse. The land will NOT vomit you even though you defile it, as it has expelled the previous occupants of the land. At that time the land was still sensitive. However, it has unfortunately become accustomed to the sins, and instead your punishment will be excision, as per verse 29, "v'nich'r'su hanfoshos." I believe that this interpretation fits in best with the 4th explanation offered above by the earlier commentators.

Based on these words of the Meshech Chochmoh a change in wording between our verse and the verse in parshas K'doshim (20:22)can be explained. Here when it mentions the land not expelling the bnei Yisroel it says "v'lo soki ho'oretz es'chem," mentioning the land before the pronoun "you." there it says that if you keep My statutes and judgments the land will not expel you, "v'lo soki Es'chem ho'oretz," mentioning "you" before the land. Based on the Meshech Chochmoh this is well understood. Earlier the cause for not expelling is the land, as it has unfortunately become accustomed to the depraved behaviour, so the land is mentioned first. In parshas k'doshim the verse tells of proper behaviour and adherence to the laws. the reason the land will not expel you is because of "you," hence it is mentioned first. (n.l.)

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