June 24, 2020 9:35 am at 9:35 am #1875968abukspanParticipant
Korach — Pans, Purification, and Peeved Parties
אמר אל אלעזר בן אהרן הכהן וירם את המחתת מבין השרפה ואת האש זרה הלאה כי קדשו: את מחתות החטאים האלה בנפשתם ועשו אתם רקעי פחים צפוי למזבח כי הקריבם לפני ה’ ויקדשו ויהיו לאות לבני ישראל
“Say to Elazar son of Aharon the Kohen and let him pick up the firepans from amid the blaze, and he should move away the fire, for they have become holy. As for the firepans of these sinners against their souls, they shall make them thinned-out sheets as a covering for the Mizbe’ach, for they offered them before Hashem, so they became holy; they shall be for a sign to the Children of Israel” (Bamidbar 17:2-3).
Why wasn’t Aharon, whose position as Kohen Gadol was no longer disputed, given the job of removing the firepans from the hands of those who ganged up along with Korach and were punished by being burned to death? To answer, I present a few pragmatic explanations, along with one meaningful one.
The Imrei Emes of Gur (cited in KeMotzei Shallal Rav ad loc.) and Rav Pinchas Horowitz (Panim Yaffos ad loc.) both suggest that the reason pertains to an issue regarding the tumah of a Kohen. Normally, tumas hameis (impurity from a corpse) can only be achieved by direct contact with a corpse. There is an exception, however, of “cherev harei hi ke`challal”: When a metal object comes in direct contact with a corpse, that object acquires the status of tumah comparable to the corpse itself. The metal pans that Korach’s people held were likely to have been in their hands at the moment of their deaths and therefore acquired the same tumah as the corpses. Anyone who would touch these pans would himself be rendered tamei for seven days and require purification.
The Rambam (Hilchos Avel 3:9) writes that if a Kohen Hedyot and a Kohen Gadol are together and they come across a meis mitzvah (a situation in which there is nobody else to attend to a dead body), the Kohen Hedyot should take care of the burial before the Kohen Gadol, since the kedushah of a Kohen Gadol is greater than that of a Kohen Hedyot. Hashem therefore told Moshe to ask Elazar, a Kohen Hedyot, and not Aharon, a Kohen Gadol, to become tamei by attending to the metal pans.
The Netziv (HaAmek Davar ad loc.) gives a different reason. He explains that Elazar was the Kohen in charge of the work done by the family of Kehas, the family charged with transporting the kli shareis (the holy vessels of the Mishkan), including the Mizbechos (Bamidbar 4:16). It stands to reason that the person in charge of overseeing the transportation of the Mizbechos should be involved in crafting the cover that was to be used during its transit. Therefore, Elazar, not Aharon, was the one chosen for this job.
According to the Meiri (Berachos 27b), by tasking Elazar and not Aharon with removal of the pans, the Torah is teaching us a meaningful lesson in derech eretz. The Gemara records the sad episode in which Rabban Gamliel, the nassi, was removed from his position for the way he behaved toward Rabbi Yehoshua. Afterward, there was a discussion regarding a suitable successor. Although Rabbi Yehoshua was the most appropriate choice academically, he was not chosen because he was a “baal maaseh,” a party to the incident. As Rashi explains, were Rabbi Yehoshua, the cause of Rabban Gamliel’s dismissal, to have been installed in his stead, it would have been very painful to Rabban Gamliel.
The Meiri emphasizes that as much as possible, we should distance ourselves from machlokes. Even when it is necessary to remove an honored person from office, it is not appropriate to give that position to the one who was the cause of the dismissal, even if he is worthy of the position. Doing so would bring the person who was deposed excessive chalishus hadaas (weakening of one’s faculties). As such, Aharon, the “cause” of the punishment of Korach and his followers (as they were disputing his position), was not given the job of removing the pans, for this could have been viewed as the victor taking spoils from the vanquished.
But one may ask: How can we compare the agony of Rabban Gamliel, who had to live with the embarrassment and pain of Rabbi Yehoshua being installed in his place, to that of the men who came along with Korach, who were dead at this point? They would never see Aharon collecting their pans, and would therefore never experience any pain.
The Panim Yaffos (mentioned above) offers another approach, which we can use to answer this question. The pans were not to be taken from the dead hands of the cohort, but from their dying hands. This can be seen from the words: “eis machtos hachata’im ha’eileh be’nafshosam — for the firepans of the sinners against their souls.” The word “be’nafshosam” can be translated as: with their life still in them, meaning alive. With this explanation, we can understand the Meiri’s opinion, that the followers of Korach may have felt additional pain had Aharon collected the pans.
It`s outstanding how far the Torah goes to teach us proper conduct. Even for the followers of Korach, who impugned the word of Moshe and created such terrible division within Yisrael, we are to do what we can to lessen their pain.
Even if someone deserves to be demoted or punished, as in the case of Rabban Gamliel and Korach’s followers, we must not cause them more pain than is warranted by rubbing their demotion or punishment in their face. It all falls into the category of derech eretz, as prescribed by the Torah[TS1] .June 24, 2020 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm #1876071
Which reminds the vort re Yosef HaTzadik שלא יריח אותו צדיק
a the smell of נכאת צרי ולטJune 24, 2020 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm #1876070
When it came to stop the plauge, it was Aharon who did it because that was done to heal. The Rashbam says that the katoras which kills if done by other than kohanim, heals when they are kohanim who are suitable for the avodah.June 24, 2020 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm #1876087
R Eliezer. That is like Efer Haporoh.June 24, 2020 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm #1876104June 24, 2020 2:43 pm at 2:43 pm #1876166
Thanks. R.E. very interesting how he explains it through Taanis 11b. A drug for the sick can be harmful to the healthy…
I brought it up as a drash a possible connection bet. the 2 parshiyos.June 24, 2020 8:41 pm at 8:41 pm #1876251
My question was why didn’t King Solomon think of it? Maybe, tne questiion is why doesn’t the efer metamei tbe water?June 24, 2020 8:42 pm at 8:42 pm #1876246
The Klei Yokor uses the rule, opposites react. The daf tomorrow Shabbos 111,1 putting vinegar on a tooth when hurting heals otherwise it is detrimental.June 25, 2020 12:28 am at 12:28 am #1876290
When I saw KliYokor’s Mahalach, the first thing that popped in my mind was the Gemoro in Yoma:
זכה נעשית לו סם חיים לא זכה נעשית לו סם מיתהJune 25, 2020 12:31 am at 12:31 am #1876297
The Gemoro in Yoma I quoted זכה נעשית לו סם החיים… is being elaborated in Maharal NesivosOlom (Torah7), and I understand it more according with Tosfos in Psochim50b. When it’s leKapeach leKanter…June 25, 2020 10:46 am at 10:46 am #1876455
Can you explain to me the connection to the Klei Yokor?June 26, 2020 2:39 am at 2:39 am #1876861HameirParticipant
Eliezer, I think lemaanachai meant to cite the irony in both cases. Efer-haparah and ktoret. Which makes sense.
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