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.
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