May 6, 2020 2:55 pm at 2:55 pm #1857775abukspanParticipant
Emor 1 – Balancing Act:
דבר אל אהרן ואל בניו וינזרו מקדשי בני ישראל ולא יחללו את שם קדשי
Speak to Aharon and his sons, that they shall withdraw from that which is holy of the Children of Israel, so as not to defile My holy Name (Vayikra 22:2).
The danger presented by high office is not merely to the person in the seat of power, but even for one who works within his personal sphere, whether he is a janitorial custodian or the highest minister. Working inside the White House can cause a person to become accustomed to seeing and even using items with the presidential seal, including objects that the president himself may have used; this creates a certain sense of familiarity, which lessens the awe and reverence that a commoner would normally have for such articles. For the staff members, what is normally special becomes normal and routine, with the resulting possibility that what may for another, become a treasured keepsake, could end up being used as a paperweight or doorstop.
This concern, writes the Seforno, is the reason that the section in the Torah (Vayikra 22:1-9) dealing with the prohibition of eating sacrifices or terumah while in a state of ritual impurity is said directly to the Kohanim.
While this law also applies to the sacrificial portions that a non-Kohen eats, it was necessary to give a special restriction to the Kohanim in this regard. The Kohanim could have thought that the restrictions that govern the eating of kodshim only apply to the commoner, who usually does not partake of this “holy fare,” but since Kohanim are accustomed to eating kodshim, sacred food, they should be allowed to treat it the way others treat normal food – without the restrictions that apply to others. Therefore, the Torah saw the need to emphasize that even they, the Kohanim, must also follow the rules regarding the consumption of kodshim in an impure state.
There is yet another rationale that a devoted staff member may employ, which could have untoward effects and may allow him to take certain liberties. Anyone granted the privilege of servicing the king personally is eager to make a good impression. He will go above and beyond the job requirements, devoting his time and effort to please his employer. Additionally, any high level position comes with its own set of rules and protocols, both for the aura they create, as well as the security they provide. As unpopular as they may be, these laws must be followed; the job calls for them!
This valued quality of extraordinary devotion, coupled with the required special service, may bring with it a certain sense of entitlement: “After all, I put in extra hours last week, I deserve a long lunch break – or some money out of petty cash.” Along with the increased devotion and commitment, the inhibition that generally keeps one in check can be pushed to the side, with inappropriate liberties taken.
This could explain why, in the haftarah of Parashas Emor (Yechezkel 44:31), Yechezkel HaNavi says, “Kol neveilah or treifah min ha’of u’min habeheimah lo yochlu haKohanim – The Kohanim shall not eat any neveilah or treifah from fowl or animals.” At first glance, this seems strange since this halachah applies to both Kohen and non-Kohen.
Yet, perhaps the exertion of a Kohen in the performance of his priestly duties will come at the expense of other more commonplace and trivial obligations, and he may say something along the lines of: “I have all the extra duties and restrictions as a Kohen; I deserve a break when it comes to other rules.” The fact that they are bidden to follow a higher standard of sanctity with regard to certain areas of religious life may lead the Kohanim to allow themselves greater laxity in other areas. For example, if they are bound by special restrictions regarding marriage, they may think that they are granted more latitude when it comes to food choices. Therefore, Yechezkel repeated the law of neveilah and treifah specifically to the Kohanim.
This can also explain why, after the opening section of Parashas Emor, which discusses the special laws that apply to Kohanim – particularly the prohibition against coming in contact with a human corpse and the restrictions on whom they may marry – the Torah issues several prohibitions forbidding the Kohanim from activities forbidden to all Jews. These include cutting their beards and making incisions in their flesh (Vayikra 21:5).Once again, their unique mitzvos do not come at the expense of the other mitzvos.
Along these lines, we present a thought that Rav Nissan Alpert said over at the levayah of his rebbi, Rav Moshe Feinstein. It says in this parashah (ibid. 21:18) that a Kohen who is a sarua, one who has an enlargement, is unfit to offer sacrifices. Rashi explains that in a sarua, one of the external parts of the body which come in pairs is larger than its fellow; perhaps one eye is larger than the other, or one of the sarua’s legs is longer than the other leg.
Rav Alpert explained this halachah symbolically. A Kohen’s kedushah must be fully balanced and proportional in all aspects of his life. Just as one arm may not be longer than the other, so, too, one dimension of a Kohen’s spiritual life may not be holier than another. Overreaching and being strict in one area of observance does not allow him to pull back and neglect others. Proper balance must be maintained. Rav Moshe, Rav Alpert maintained, was a gadol with perfect symmetry, whose greatness in Torah did not outshine his performance in any other area.
The Kli Yakar brings another point. In Parashas Va’eschanan (Devarim 4:2), the Torah writes “Lo sosifu – You shall not add,” and “Lo sigre’u – You shall not subtract.” The Kli Yakar explains: Do not add to the mitzvos in order not to subtract from them. These bookend mitzvos are instructions not to add and go overboard in one area, lest one come to subtract and neglect another.
Maintaining an even keel makes for safe charting in a life devoted to Torah and all of His mitzvos.May 6, 2020 4:55 pm at 4:55 pm #1857860
Look at the Peila Yoetz on Darshon ויאמר בועז אל הקוצרים ה’ עמכם we accomplish more by cutting Dvar Torahs short.May 6, 2020 9:15 pm at 9:15 pm #1857890
When we add to something, we show is incomplete. By adding to the Torah we are taking away from it.May 6, 2020 9:15 pm at 9:15 pm #1857921abukspanParticipant
yes, you must be referring to the chazal -Niskatzru HaDorosMay 6, 2020 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm #1857986
There is a very interesting Rabbenu Bachye in Parasahas Ki Siso on the expressiion of the gemora חסורי מחסרא והכי קתני first a joke from the Ben Ish Chai, people when they have no money, sit and learn. Now he explains that originally the mishna left things out on purpose as it was understood when left out. You were only allowed to write down what was necessary for understanding. As the generations became weaker, the gemora came about and more elaborations were necessary and so on. They say about Rav Nasan Adler ztz’l that he had a photographic memory so he only required to place a dot in the margin. We only know things from him from his talmidim.
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