Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parshas Shoftim - The death penalty for rebelling against the king

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (Devarim 17:15):
שׂוֹם תָּשִׂים עָלֶיךָ מֶלֶךְ אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ בּוֹ מִקֶּרֶב אַחֶיךָ
“You shall surely place over yourself a king whom Hashem will choose from amongst your brothers.”

The gemara in Kesuvos (17a) explains:
שום תשים עליך מלך שתהא אימתו עליך
“’You shall surely place a king over you,’ [this means] that his fear will be over you.”

If someone rebels against the king he is put to death, the Rambam in Hilchos Melachim (3:8) explains that he is killed by the sword:
כל המורד במלך ישראל יש למלך רשות להרגו .. וכן כל המבזה את המלך או המחרפו יש למלך רשות להרגו כשמעי בן גרא ואין למלך רשות להרוג אלא בסייף בלבד
“If someone rebels against a Jewish King then the king is allowed to kill him ... and also if someone insults the king or curses him the king may kill him as with Shimi ben Geira, however the king may only execute by the sword.”

Tosafos in Sanhedrin (36a, d”h Rabbah bar bar Channa) says that that although if beis din decide that someone is chayav misoh then they have to wait till the next day to execute them, however the king may kill someone who rebelled against him on the same day.

Tosafos asks from a gemara later on in Sanhedrin (48b) which implies that there is no difference between beis din’s chiyuv misah and the king’s chiyuv misah in this regard.

The gemara discusses if the estate of someone who is killed for rebelling against the king goes to the king or to his heirs. The gemara brings a proof from the story of kerem Navos that the estate of the person who rebelled against the king goes to the king.

The passuk (Melachim 1, 21:10) says that Izevel advised Achav that he should hire false witnesses to testify against Navos so that Navos would be killed and then Achav would be able to take his vineyard:
וְהוֹשִׁיבוּ שְׁנַיִם אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי בְלִיַּעַל נֶגְדּוֹ וִיעִדֻהוּ לֵאמֹר בֵּרַכְתָּ אֱלֹקִים וָמֶלֶךְ וְהוֹצִיאֻהוּ וְסִקְלֻהוּ וְיָמֹת
“Let them place two godless men opposite him (Navos) and they should testify against him saying, ‘You cursed Hashem and the king’, and they should take him out and they should stone him and he should die.”

The gemara says:
בשלמא למאן דאמר נכסיהן למלך היינו דכתיב (מלכים א כא, יג) ברך נבות אלקים ומלך אלא למאן דאמר נכסיהן ליורשין למה לי ומלך
“I can understand that according to the opinion that the estate of the person who rebelled against the king goes to the king, that is why Izevel advised Achav that the false witnesses should say that Navos cursed the king as well as Hashem (since Navos would be killed for rebelling against the king his vineyard would go to the king).

However according to the opinion that the estate of someone who is killed for rebelling against the king goes to his heirs, then even if Navos was killed for cursing the king as well as for cursing Hashem, then anyway his estate would go to his heirs and not to the king.

In that case, why did Izevel ask the witnesses to testify that Naval had cursed both the king as well as Hashem, since anyway the king would not receive the vineyard as a direct consequence of Navos being killed?”

Tosafos asks; if someone who rebels against the king is killed on the same day, then maybe the reason that Izevel hired witnesses to say that Navos had cursed the king as well as Hashem was in order that Navos would be killed straight away before it was found out that the witnesses were lying?

The Ohr Someach (Hilchos Melachim perek 8) answers as follows:
The mishna (Sanhedrin 81a) says:
מי שנתחייב בשתי מיתות בית דין נידון בחמורה
“Someone who is condemned to two death penalties receives the more severe one.”

Therefore, if Navos would be chayav hereg for cursing the king and also be chayav sekilah for cursing Hashem’s name, then he would be executed by stoning. In this case, beis din would have to delay till the next day to execute him because sekilah for cursing Hashem’s name requires beis din to delay the execution till the next day.

Izevel would not have gained an execution through hereg on the same day by saying that Navos cursed the king, because since Navos would be killed by sekilah, this would only be carried out on the next day.

The Ohr Sameach explains that even although the sentence of sekilah for being mored be’malchus for cursing the king would allow Navos to be killed on the same day, nevertheless beis din would not have been allowed to execute Navos on the same day by sekilah since Tosafos says (daf 81, d”h haniskalin) that the difference between delivering a lenient death penalty and a more severe death penalty has the halachah of dinei nephashos.

Just  as the delivery of any chiyuv misah requires beis din to wait till the next day in case they think of a reason why the person should not be killed at all, so too extra severity of a chiyuv sekilah over a chiyuv of hereg would require beis din to wait till the next day in case they would think of a reason that the person should only be killed by hereg.


Therefore it would have anyway been necessary to wait overnight for Naval to be killed and Izevel would not have gained him being killed on the same day by saying that he cursed both the king as well as Hashem.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Parshas Re'eh - Exodus from Egypt and the future redemption

The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (perek 16, passuk 3):
לֹא תֹאכַל עָלָיו חָמֵץ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל עָלָיו מַצּוֹת לֶחֶם עֹנִי כִּי בְחִפָּזוֹן יָצָאתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְמַעַן תִּזְכֹּר אֶת יוֹם צֵאתְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ

“You shall not eat chametz together with the korban pesach, for 7 days you should eat with it matzah, the bread of affliction because you came out of Mitzraim in haste.

[Do this] in order that you should remember the day that you came out of Mitzraim all the days of your life.”
The Gevilei Eish says that we find that there are three differences between the geulah from Mitzrayim and the geulah from our current galus:

1       1) Regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says “וַחֲמֻשִׁים עָלוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם”, on which Rashi explains, “אחד מחמשה יצאו וד' חלקים מתו בשלשת ימי אפילה”, “Only 1/5th of the benei yisrael came out of Mitzrayim and 4/5th died in the three days of darkness.”

However regarding the geulah ha’asidah the passuk says (Shmuel 2, 14:14); “לְבִלְתִּי יִדַּח מִמֶּנּוּ נִדָּח” – “No-one will be pushed away (when moshiach comes).”

2.       2) Regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says (Shemos 10:13)
לֹא רָאוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְלֹא קָמוּ אִישׁ מִתַּחְתָּיו שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבֹתָם
“A man did not see his brother, and no man was able to move for three days, however for all of the benei yisrael, there was light in their dwellings.”
However regarding the geulah ha’asidah, the passuk says (Yeshaya 60:3):
וְהָלְכוּ גוֹיִם לְאוֹרֵךְ וּמְלָכִים לְנֹגַהּ זַרְחֵךְ
“And nations will go by your light, and kings will go by the glow of your brightness.”

3.       3) Another difference is that regarding the geulah from Mitzrayim, the passuk says “כִּי בְחִפָּזוֹן יָצָאתָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם” – “Because you came out of Mitzrayim in haste.”

However regarding the geulah ha’asidah, the passuk says (Yeshaya 52, 12):
כִּי לֹא בְחִפָּזוֹן תֵּצֵאוּ וּבִמְנוּסָה לֹא תֵלֵכוּן כִּי הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם ה' וּמְאַסִּפְכֶם אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
“Because you will not go out in haste, and you will not travel while fleeing, because Hashem will go before you, and behind you will be the protection of the G-d of Yisrael.”

Why do we find these differences between the geulah from Mitzrayim and the geulah ha’asidah?

The Gevilei Eish explains as follows:
The Medrash says (מדרש תהילים מזמור קז):
"או הנסה אלקים לבא, לקחת לו, גוי מקרב גוי" (דברים ד' ל"ד) - כעובר שהוא נתון בתוך מעי בהמה, והרועה נותן ידו ושומטו, כך עשה הקב"ה שנאמר, "לבא לקחת לו גוי מקרב גוי"
“The passuk says, ‘Has Hashem ever come to take for himself a nation from the midst of another nation’, before the benei yisrael were redeemed from Mitzrayim they were like a foetus that is placed within the innards of an animal and the shepherd comes and delivers the foetus with his hands. So too did Hashem do, as the passuk says, ‘to come and take a nation from the midst of another nation.’"

When the benei yisrael were in Mitzrayim, they became mixed up with the Mitzrim, therefore:

1       1) Four fifths of the benei yisrael died during makkas choshech because they did not want to come out of Mitzrayim and be a separate chosen people.

       2) The light that shone for the benei yisrael during makkas chosech only benefited the benei yisrael, this was in order to differentiate between the benei yisrael and the Mitzrim.

3       3) The geulah was done unnaturally quickly in order that the connection between the benei yisrael and the Mitzrim should be broken and should not have a chance to drag the benei yisrael back.

However after the benei yisrael received the Torah, they are no longer considered part of the umos ha’olam at all, as the passuk says (Bamidbar 23:9):
הֶן עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב
“Behold a people that dwells alone and is not considered to be one of the nations.”
Therefore, when the geulah ha’asidah comes;
       1) All of the benei yisrael will be redeemed because they will not want to remain as part of the nations that they are being redeemed from.

       2) The light that shines for the benei yisrael will be able to benefit the umos ha’olam because there will be no need to differentiate between the benei yisrael and the umos ha’olam.


       3) The geulah will take place at a natural pace because there will be no connection to break between the benei yisrael and the umos ha’olam.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Parshas Ekev - the complete reward for the mitzvos

The Medrash Rabbah says at the beginning of this week’s sedrah:
הלכה, אדם מישראל שיש לו מנורה שעשויה פרקים פרקים, מהו לטלטלה בשבת? כך שנו חכמים, המרכיב קני מנורה בשבת חייב חטאת. ומשום מה מחייב? אמר רבי אבהו, בשם רבי יוחנן: המרכיב את המנורה בשבת כאדם שבונה בשבת, ומי שהוא בונה בשבת חייב.

“A halachah was asked; Can you move a menorah which is made of parts that you have to put together, on Shabbos (i.e. is the menorah muktzeh)?

We have learnt; if you join together the rods of a menorah on Shabbos then you are chayav a korban chatas. [And since putting the menorah together is assur mideoraisah, you may not move it in case you dismantle it and put it together again.]

Why is he chayav? Rebbi Avahu said in the name of Rebbi Yochanan, if you join together the parts of a menorah on Shabbos then you are chayav because of boneh (i.e. when the menorah is dismantled it is not considered to be a kli so when you join the parts it is considered as if you have built the menorah.)”

The medrash continues:
...אמרו לו ישראל: ואימתי את נותן לנו שכר המצות, שאנו עושים? אמר להם הקב"ה: מצות שאתם עושים מפרותיהן אתם אוכלים עכשיו, אבל שכרו בעקב אני נותן לכם. מנין? ממה שקרינו בעניינינו: והיה עקב תשמעון:

The benei yisrael asked Hashem; When will you give us reward for the mitzvos that we do? Hashem answered them, “You will eat the fruits of the mitzvos as soon as you perform them, however the main reward of the mitzvos will only be given to you in olam habah.”

This is alluded to in the passuk that says - והיה עקב תשמעון – it will be at the end, if you listen (the medrash transalates the word ekev as ‘the end’).

Why does the medrash begin with the halachah of a menorah which you have to put together, and what is the connection between this halachah and when we receive the reward for performing mitzvos?

The Chasam Sofer explains as follows:

The passuk says in parshas Ki Savou:
וְכָתַבְתָּ עַל הָאֲבָנִים אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב
“And you shall write on the stones all the words of the Torah explained well.”
Rashi explains:
"באר היטב" - בשבעים לשון
“Explained well – in the 70 languages.”

The word היטב has the gematria of 70 if you add up the letters as follows:
ה + הי + היט + היטב = 5 + 15 + 24 + 26 = 70
The gematria of היטב is only 70 if you add each letter to all of the other letters before it because every time you do a mitzvah it builds on the mitzvah that you did beforehand. Therefore, the yud is not just yud, it is heh (the previous mitzvah) + yud, similarly the tes is not only tes, but it builds on the previous mitzvos of heh and yud and so is heh + yud + tes.

Similarly, the Medrash in our sedrah compares all of the mitzvos that a person does during their entire life time to a menorah which is comprised of different parts. This tells us that just as the menorah does not give all its light until it is fully assembled, so too, the mitzvos that a person does during their lifetime cannot be fully appreciated until they are all considered in the light of all of the other mitzvos that the person ever did.

The Chasam Sofer explains; if it was possible for Hashem to give the reward for mitzvos in olam hazeh then He would do so immediately upon us completing the mitzvah, in order not to transgress the mitzvah of לא תלין פעולת שכיר – you are not allowed to delay giving a worker their wages.


However since all of the mitzvos that we do in our entire life time all join together, it is only when a person has done all their mitzvos that it is possible to appreciate the significance of every  mitzvah that they ever did. Therefore, in order to give the full reward of their mitzvos, Hashem only gives reward for mitzvos in olam habah.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parshas Va'eschanan - seeking Hashem with one heart

The passuk says in parshas Va'eschanan (דברים ד', כ"ט):

וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם מִשָּׁם אֶת ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ וּמָצָאתָ כִּי תִדְרְשֶׁנּוּ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשֶׁךָ

“And you will seek from there Hashem your g-d and you will find Him when you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

The Meshech Chachmah asks; Why does the passuk start in the plural, “וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם” – “and you (plural) shall seek”, and finish in the singular; “וּמָצָאתָ” – “and you (singular) will find”.

The Meshech Chachmah also asks; the gemara says in Berachos 58a that every Jew has their own way of understanding things:

תנו רבנן הרואה אוכלוסי ישראל אומר: ברוך חכם הרזים. שאין דעתם דומה זה לזה, ואין פרצופיהן דומים זה לזה.

The rabbis have taught, if someone sees a multitude (600,000 or more) of Jewish people he should make a berachah - "blessed is the Wise One who knows secrets." Because their minds are not similar to each other and their faces (which  reflect their personalities) are not similar to each  other."

On the other hand, the passuk in parshas Yisro (Shemos 12:2) says that before Matan Torah:

וַיִּחַן שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר

"And the benei yisrael camped opposite the mountain."

On which  Rashi comments:

"ויחן שם ישראל" - כאיש אחד בלב אחד

"The passuk says that the benei yisrael camped there, in the singular, to teach  you that  the whole nation was like one man with  one heart."

You see from this Rashi that it is possible that the whole of the benei yisrael should be perfectly united, if so why do we always assume that they have different minds so that when we see 600,000 Jews we say the berachah of ברוך חכם הרזים which implies that they all think differently?

The passuk says in Bereishis (2:9):

וְעֵץ הַחַיִּים בְּתוֹךְ הַגָּן

"Hashem place the Tree of Life in the centre of Gan Eden."

Why  was the Etz ha'Chaim placed particularly in the centre?

The Meshech Chachmah explains that the service of Hashem is comparable to people standing on the circumference of a circle and wanting to go to the centre of the circle. Each person will head in a slightly different direction, because each person started on a different point of the outer circle, however everyone moves towards and eventually reaches  the only centre of the circle.

Similarly, even although אין דעתם דומה זה לזה, the minds of the benei yisrael are all different to each other, nevertheless when they use their intelligence in avodas hashem, they reach a mutual understanding because they realise that they are all heading towards the same goal of understanding Hashem - albeit from different directions and with different tools.

That is why when the 600,000 benei yisrael merited to stand at Har Sinai, they were כאיש אחד בלב אחד - like one man with one heart, because even  although  they all understood the Torah in a slightly different way according to the root of their neshama in the 600,000 letters of the Torah, they all knew that the purpose of their accepting the Torah was to draw closer to Hashem.

Similarly the passuk in Va'eschanan starts in the plural, וּבִקַּשְׁתֶּם, and you (plural) will seek, and finishes in the singular, וּמָצָאתָ, and you  (singular) will find. Becuase once the benei yisrael find Hashem, they realise that they are all united in a common purpose although they had different approaches to finding Hashem initially.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parshas Shelach Lechah - the mistake of the meraglim

The passuk says in parshas shelech lechah (13:3):
וַיִּשְׁלַח אֹתָם מֹשֶׁה מִמִּדְבַּר פָּארָן עַל פִּי ה' כֻּלָּם אֲנָשִׁים רָאשֵׁי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה
Moshe sent them from Midbar Paran according to the instruction of Hashem, they were all men – they were the leaders of the benei yisrael.
Rashi explains:
"כלם אנשים" - כל אנשים שבמקרא לשון חשיבות ואותה שעה כשרים היו
They were all men – Wherever it says the term ‘anashim’ in the passuk it is an expression of importance; this is used here because at that time they were tzadikim.
The passuk later on in the parsha (13:26) says:
וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל מִדְבַּר פָּארָן קָדֵשָׁה וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אוֹתָם דָּבָר...
They went and they came to Moshe and to Aharon and to all of the people to Midbar Paran to Kadesh and they returned a report to them...
Rashi explains:
"וילכו ויבואו" - (סוטה לד) מהו וילכו להקיש הליכתן לביאתן מה ביאתן בעצה רעה אף הליכתן בעצה רעה
They went and they came – why does the passuk need to say that they went – this is to compare their going to their coming. Just as when they returned it was with an evil council so too when they went it was with an evil council.
·         There would appear to be a contradiction in Rashi. Initially Rashi says that when Moshe sent them they were tzadikim, however the second Rashi says that they went initially with bad intentions? Furthermore, if they were indeed tzadikim initially why did they come to speak lashon hara about Eretz Yisrael?
The yerushalmi says in Sanhedrin (2:6):
תני ר' הושעיה עלה יו"ד ונשתטח לפני הקב"ה ואמר רבון העולמים עקרתני מן הצדקת הזאת. אמר לו הקב"ה צא לך, לשעבר היית נתון בשם נקיבה ובסוף תיבה, חייך שאני נותנך בשם זכר ובראש תיבה. הדא הוא דכתיב ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע
Rebbi Hoshaya taught – the yud that was taken out from Sarah’s name (when her name was changed from Sarai to Sarah) prostrated itself before Hashem and said – Master of the Universe – you have taken me out of the name of this tzadekes! Hashem said to the yud – it is to your benefit! In the past you were in the name of a woman and at the end of the word – by your life I will place you in the name of a man and at the beginning of the word – this is what the passuk says “And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nin – Yehoshua.”
·         Why was the yud that was taken from Sarah’s name put into Yehoshua’s name to save him from the council of the meraglim?

Rabbi Yitzchak Eisak Chaver z”l (Ohr Torah) answers as follows:
The passuk says in Yeshaya (26:4):
בִּטְחוּ בַה' עֲדֵי עַד כִּי בְּקָהּ ה' צוּר עוֹלָמִים
Trust in Hashem forever because in k”ah Hashem is the rock of the worlds.
The gemara in Menachos (29b) explains that olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh. That is why the passuk says “ki be’kah Hashem” – since the two worlds were created with the Name ka”h.
·         Why was olam habah created with a yud and olam hazeh created with a heh?
The Ohr Torah (4:63) explains:
... כי יו"ד התחלת הנקודה והוא במחשבה  לבד...עד שבאו לעולם הזה ושם  נתגשמו במעשים גופנים... והוא נרמז באות ה׳, ששני קוין  של הד׳ הם אורך ורוחב, והקו שבשמאל  מרמז על הגובה
The letter yud is a point and so represents something that exists in thought and has not yet been given a physical form. However the heh represents something which has been given a physical form in olam hazeh. The two lines of the daled (which forms the right hand side of the Heh) represent length and width and the line on the left of the heh represents height [thus the heh represents a three-dimensional form given to something in olam hazeh].
Olam habah was created with a yud because the yud, which is a point, represents an idea. Olam hazeh on the other hand was created with a heh because the heh represents the three-dimensional form given to the idea that was formed in olam habah.
Just as when Hashem created the world olam habah was created with a yud and olam hazeh was created with a heh, so too when a person does a mitzvah, the yud represents the thought that precedes the mitzvah and the heh represents the act of performing the mitzvah within olam hazeh.
This is why Sarah had a heh added to her name before she could become the first of the imahos. Sarah already had the pure intentions required to be the first of the imahos. In order to enable her to bear Yitzchak however, Hashem changed the yud - representing her good intentions - into a heh - which represented her ability to effect her thoughts into action. By adding the heh to her name, Hashem gave Sarah the ability to become the mother of Yitzchak.

The meraglim
What was the mistake of the meraglim?
The mishnah says in Yuma (5:2):
מִשֶּׁנִּטַּל הָאָרוֹן, אֶבֶן הָיְתָה שָׁם מִימוֹת נְבִיאִים רִאשׁוֹנִים, וּשְׁתִיָּה הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת, גְּבוֹהָה מִן הָאָרֶץ שָׁלֹש אֶצְבָּעוֹת, וְעָלֶיהָ הָיָה נוֹתֵן
From the time that the Aron Hakodesh was removed from the kodesh hakedashim the cohen gadol would place the ketores on the even hashesiyah...
The gemara says (Yuma 54b):
ושתיה היתה נקראת: תנא שממנה הושתת העולם...
The reason it was called the even hashesiyah is because the world was founded from it...
Just as when the world was created, Yerushalayim was the place from where the rest of the world spread out, so too now Eretz Yisrael is a place of growth and development whereas all other countries are places to in a constant way.
The meraglim thought that essentially Eretz Yisrael was a country like all other countries (although they understood that ארץ ישראל מקודשת מכל הארצות). Therefore they understood that whatever they saw there was part of the nature of the land. If they saw unconquerable giants and people dying then the nature of the land was that it would be difficult to conquer and that the people there died. They did not understand that Eretz Yisrael has no nature at all and that the characteristics it displays only relate to the plan of Hashem and the way that the benei yisrael keep the Torah when they are in it.
In this way, although the world was created with the shem Hashem of ka”h, olam hazeh with a heh and olam habah with a yud – Eretz Yisrael always maintains an aspect of the original intention of the creation of the world – and therefore relates to the yud as well as to the heh.
Hashem added the yud taken from Sarah back into Yehoshua’s name – so that he would understand that the purpose of the benei yisrael entering Eretz Yisrael was not to acquire a permanent place in the heh of olam hazeh – but rather was for them to maintain a life which would relate both to olam hazeh (the heh) and also to olam habah (the yud).

The meraglim on the other hand took the idea of the heh in Sarah’s name too far. They thought that the benei yisrael were now to acquire a permanent place in olam hazeh – represented by the heh. Therefore although the meraglim were initially tzadikim, because they misunderstood the nature of what they saw they reached the wrong conclusion and spoke lashon hara.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The mitzvah to guard the beis hamikdash


The gemara says in Tamid (26a) that cohanim and leviim are obligated to keep guard in the beis hamikdash both by day and also by night. The gemara says that we learn this from the passuk in Bamidbar that says (במדבר ג, לח):
וְהַחֹנִים לִפְנֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן קֵדְמָה לִפְנֵי אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִזְרָחָה מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו שֹׁמְרִים מִשְׁמֶרֶת הַמִּקְדָּשׁ לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Those who camped in front of the mishkan to the east, before the Ohel Moed eastward, were Moshe and Aharon and his sons. They who watched the holy watch on behalf of the benei yisrael.

Moshe was a levi and Aharon and his sons were cohanim, so we see that leviim and cohanim have to guard the mishkan and the beis hamikdash.

The Raavad (Tamid 28a) asks:
היכי ילפינן ממשה ואהרון דכהנים ולויים בעי, הלא משה כהן גדול הוה כדאיתא בזבחים פרק טבול יום? י"ל אפילו למ"ד התם כהן גדול הוה מכל מקום לענין מראה נגעים לא היה כהן
How can we learn from the fact that the passuk says “מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן” that cohanim and leviim are obligated to guard the beis hamikdash; was not Moshe a cohen gadol as the gemara says in Zevachim? (Moshe served as a cohen gadol during the שבעת ימי המילואים and also (according to some opinions) for the entire 40 years that the benei yisrael were in the midbar). If so we have no proof that someone who is only a levi has to keep guard in the beis hamikdash?

The Raavad answers that even according to the opinion that Moshe was a cohen gadol, nevertheless he was not able to inspect tzaraas (and declare it tameh or tahor). Since with regards to tzaraas Moshe was a levi and not a cohen we can deduce from the fact that Moshe had to guard the mishkan that leviim also have to keep guard.

The Binyan Halachah asks on the Raavad;
Since Moshe did have some of the dinim of a cohen, it would seem that you cannot prove from Moshe that someone who is not a cohen at all would have the same halachos. Maybe the reason that Moshe had to guard the mishkan was because he was similar to a cohen - in regards to the fact that he served as a cohen gadol - and not because he was similar to a levi - with regards to not being able to inspect tzaraas?

The Binyan Halachah explains the answer of the Raavad as follows:

The Rambam says in Hilchos Issurei Biah (19:10):
אבל חלל של תורה  - הודאי  - הרי הוא כזר, ונושא גרושה, ומטמא למתים, שנאמר אמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן אע"פ שהם בני אהרן עד שיהיו בכיהונם
A definite challal is like a zar (non-cohen) and he can marry a divorcee and he can become tameh to a dead person as the passuk says “אמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן” – even if they are the children of Aharon, the laws of cohanim do not apply to them until they are kosher cohanim.

This Rambam seems to be contradicted by another Rambam in Hilchos Bias Mikdash (6:10) where he says;
כהן שעבד ונבדק ונמצא חלל עבודתו כשירה לשעבר ואינו עובד להבא, ואם עבד לא חילל שנאמר ברך י"י חילו ופועל ידיו תרצה, אף חולין שבו תרצה

If a cohen did the avodah in the beis hamikdash and he was afterwards found to be a challal the avodah that he did is kosher but he should not continue doing the avodah. If he did go and do the avodah he has not profaned the avodah (and it is still kosher) as the passuk says “ברך י"י חילו ופועל ידיו תרצה” – “Hashem blessed his chalalim and was pleased with the work of his hands.”

We can see from this halachah that a challal is not a zar. The avodah of a challal is kosher bedieved, however the avodah of a zar is certainly not kosher bedieved. Therefore it would appear that a challal is considered to be at least a partial cohen. How then can the Rambam say that he is permitted to marry a divorced woman and become tameh because he is a zar?

The Binyan Halachah explains that there are two different aspects to the kedusha of cohanim:
  1. If a cohen is identified as a descendant of Aharon then he has the sanctity of the family of Aharon. This obligates him in certain mitzvos which are unique to the cohanim that were given to the descendants of Aharon who have the sanctity of Aharon, such as inspecting tzaraas, not becoming tameh and not marrying a divorcee.
  2. The cohanim are allowed to do the avodah in the beis hamikdash.


The mitzvos that relate to the kedushah of the kohanim were only ever given to Aharon and his descendants. They are unique to the cohanim and relate to the kedushah of Aharon’s family. The avodah on the other hand, did not originally belong to the cohanim; had the benei yisrael not served the egel hazahav then the bechorim would have done the avodah. The avodah was given to Aharon and his descendants as a reward and as an inheritance.

Therefore, regarding the mitzvos (such as not becoming tameh or marrying a divorcee) that were uniquely given to Aharon and his sons and that relate to their kedushas kehunah, the Rambam says that a challal is a zar. A challal is not considered to be fully a spiritual heir of Aharon and therefore he does not have the full kedushah of the mishpachas hacohanim. Subsequently the mitzvos that relate to the kedushah of Aharon’s family do not apply to him.

However the avodah was something that already existed before Aharon was appointed to be the kohen gadol at all. It was given as a reward to Aharon and his descendants. Therefore as long as the challal has some of the kedushah of the family of Aharon he inherits the right to do the avodah. (He should not do the avodah lechatchilah  but bedieved his avodah is kosher.)

Moshe was the cohen gadol during theשבעת ימי המילואים , that means that he had the right to do the avodah during this time. We do not see from this that he had the full kedushah of the family of Aharon, as the degree of kedushah which is required to possess the right to do the avodah is less than the full kedushah of Aharon’s family.

Just as a challal has the kedushah to be able to do the avodah but does not have the kedushah that obligates him in the other mitzvos of the kohanim, such as being able to inspect tzaraas, so too Moshe had the level of kedushah that enabled him to receive the right to do the avodas kohen gadol but he was not given the full level of kedushah of Aharon that would have enabled him to inspect tzaraas and be obligated in the other mitzvos of the cohanim.

Therefore intrinsically Moshe remained a levi, not a cohen, and we can learn from the fact that he was obligated to guard the mishkan that other leviim too were obligated in this mitzvah.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kilayim in bigdei kehunah


The Rambam says in Hilchos Kilayim (10:32):
כהנים שלבשו בגדי כהונה שלא בשעת עבודה אפילו במקדש לוקין מפני האבנט שהוא כלאים ולא הותרו בו אלא בשעת עבודה שהיא מצות עשה כציצית
“If cohanim wear bigdei kehunah while they are not performing the avodah even if they are not in the beis hamikdash then they receive malkos because the avnet contains kilayim and it was only permitted for the cohanim to wear this garment while performing the avodah.”

The Ravad argues with the Rambam and says:
טעה בזה שהרי אמרו (ביומא בפרק בא לו) כהן גדול במקדש אפילו שלא בשעת עבודה מותר כו'
“The Rambam has made a mistake in this halachah because the gemara says (Yuma 69a) that a cohen gadol is allowed to wear the bigdei kehunah in the beis hamikdash even when he is not performing the avodah.”

The Binyan Halacha explains the opinion of the Rambam as follows:

Gid hanashe in a korban olah
There is a machlokess in Chullin (90a – b) between Rebbi and the Rabbanan whether or not the gid hanashe is burnt as part of a korban olah. According to Rebbi the gid hanashe is brought on the mizbeach, according to the Rabbanan it is not:

ורבי ... כי איצטריך קרא לגיד הנשה במחובר. ורבנן (יחזקאל מה, טו) "ממשקה ישראל" מן המותר לישראל. ורבי מידי דהוה אחלב ודם. ורבנן מצותן בכך שאני

“According to Rebbi the passuk comes to include that you should burn the gid hanashe as part of the thigh of the olah.

The Rabbanan say that the passuk could not possible come to teach you this because we know that you can only bring on the mizbeach something that is kosher to eat (מִמַּשְׁקֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל). Seeing as the gid hanashe is not kosher it is not possible that the passuk would tell you that it should be burnt on the mizbeach.

Rebbi says this is not an objection because chelev and dam are brought on the mizbeach and they are not kosher, so you see that the passuk does make exceptions to the rule of מִמַּשְׁקֵ֣ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל.

The Rabbanan say that this is no proof because the main mitzvah of korbanos involves using the chelev and dam, these are an essential part of the mitzvah. Therefore you cannot prove from their use on the mizbeach that the Torah would allow other parts of the animal that are not kosher to be brought on the mizbeach.”

What is the machlokess between Rebbi and the Rabannan? Why does Rebbi say that the fact that chelev and dam are brought on the mizbeach is a precedent to allow the gid hanashe to be brought on the mizbeach and why do the Rabannan disagree?

Mitzvaso bekach
The Binyan Halacha explains that there are two possible ways that the Torah can allow you to do a ‘lo saaseh’ when you perform a mitzvas aseh.

·         The first way is where we recognise that doing this act which is normally forbidden is indeed a ‘lo saaseh’. However we say that the ‘lo saaseh’ is pushed away (either hutrah or dechuyah) before the mitzvas aseh. Because of the importance of the mitzvas aseh, the Torah allows you to do an act that comprises a ‘lo saaseh’.

·         The second way is where we do not recognise the act that is performed as a mitzvas lo saaseh at all. If a lo saaseh is part of a mitzvah where it is mitzvaso bekach – this is the way that you always do the mitzvah – then the Torah does not identify this act as an issur. There is no “issur” that is pushed away before the mitzvas aseh – rather we understand that what you are doing is simply part of a maaseh ha’mitzvah.

The Binyan Halacha explains that the Rabannan who argue with Rebbi hold like the second explanation. Therefore according to the Rabannan, it is not possible to learn from the fact that the Torah allows chelev and dam to be brought as part of a korban that the Torah would also allow other non-kosher items to be brought as korbanos.

It is mitzvaso bekach for korbanos to include chelev and dam. Therefore there is no issur of chelev and dam which is pushed away by the mitzvah of korbanos. Rather we understand that because this is an act of performing a mitzvah where the issur is mitzvaso bekach, that this is purely a maaseh hamitzvah and does not relate to the general issur of chelev and dam at all.

This is not the case with gid hanashe. If we were to say that it is permissible to bring gid hanashe on the mizbeach this would be because the mitzvah of bringing the korban pushes away the issur of bringing non-kosher food on the mizbeach. Seeing as there is no precedent for this from chelev and dam (where we say there is no issur altogether) the Rabannan say it is not possible that this is mutar.

According to Rebbi however, even where there is a lo saaseh that is always part of a mitzvas aseh (mitzvaso bekach), we understand that there really is an issur – however it is permissible to do the issur as it is pushed away by the more important mitzvas aseh (it is either hutrah or dechuyah).

Bigdei kehunah
Since bigdei kehunah contain kilayim, it is mitzvaso bekach of bigdei kehunah to be worn with kilayim. Our understanding of how the issur of kilayim is permitted in this case will depend on the machlokess between Rebbi and the Rabannan

·         According to the Rabannan we would understand that there is no consideration of kilayim at all in relation to bigdei kehunah, just as there is no consideration of the issur of chelev and dam at all when bringing korbanos.

·         However, according to Rebbi, we would understand that we do identify that an issur of kilayim is present when wearing bigdei kehunah however it is pushed away by the mitzvah of wearing bigdei kehunah.

The Rambam in Maaseh Korbanos (6:4) says:
כשמנתח איברי העולה מוליכין את כל הנתחים לכבש ומולחין אותם שם ואחר כך מעלין כל האיברים לראש המזבח ומסיר גיד הנשה
“When he cuts up the limbs of the olah – he takes all the parts to the ramp leading up to the mizbeach and he salts them there and after they take up all the limbs to the top of the mizbeach he removes the gid hanashe.”

The Rambam paskes like the Rabannan – that the gid hanashe is not brought as part of an olah. That means that he paskens that if you have a lo saaseh which is part of a mitzvas aseh and it is mitzvaso bekach – that we do not consider that there is a  lo saaseh present at all.

Therefore regarding the issur of kilayim in shaatnez – we would not say that the issur of kilayim has been pushed away – rather we would say that at the time that wearing the bigdei kehunah is a mitzvah (while the kohen is doing the avodah) that there is no kilayim present at all. However as soon as the kohen stops doing the avodah they would have to take off the begadim. Since at the time of the avodah the issur was not pushed away (instead it was simply not present) as soon as the avodah finishes the issur of kilayim is present again and the cohen may not continue to wear the begadim.

That is why the Rambam says that once the cohanim finish the avodah they must remove the begadim.
The gemara in Yuma (69a) which the Raavad quotes as saying that cohanim may wear their begadim in the beis hamikdash is going according to Rebbi.

The Rambam will explain that since Rebbi holds that even where an issur which is mitzvaso bekach is allowed we say that there is an issur but it is pushed away by the mitzvah – in that case there is a precedent set in the kohanim wearing bigdei kehunah beshaas avodah that the issur of kilayim is pushed away by the mitzvah of wearing bigdei kehunah. Therefore even shelo beshaas avodah where there is no chiyuv for the kohanim to wear the bigdei kehunah but there is still a mitzvah of wearing bigdei kehunah – we will say that the mitzvah of wearing bigdei kehunah is matir the issur of kilayim.
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