Document2 can have a lasting effect on the life together after the wedding.
בס"ד In the same way, building the national house of Bnei Yisrael, the
PARSHAT HASHAVUA Tabernacle, also included both advance preparation and the actual
construction. This week's Torah portion involves the eighth day, a day
PARSHA : SHMINI of activity. On this day, it was necessary to pay strict attention to all
the details of the rituals (as is related in the portion, the failure to
Date : 24 Nissan 5759 10-4-99 adhere to all the laws had dire consequences). However, the eighth
“The Best of Parshat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list day was preceded by many days of practical and spiritual
subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members preparations. And these preparations - together with the appearance
of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden) of the Divine presence on the eighth day - provided the spiritual
Please respect the Holiness of these pages content for the house which was built.
POINT OF VIEW: To Remain in the Middle of the Road
Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori by Dr. Yisrael Rozenson
Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l We will concentrate today on Aharon's two sons, who entered the
Tabernacle without permission. For the sake of argument, we will
These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word adopt the most stringent interpretations, which view their action as a
format. Anyone interested in receiving them, please feel feee to sin. According to this view, the fact that they brought a "strange
contact me at the following email address: email@example.com - flame" is not simply a technical detail but shows their desire to force
Arieh. their way into the holy site, and to do this rapidly and on their own
initiative. This desire is seen as conceit.
1 - TORAH TIDBITS (Israel Center)
Phil Chernofsky, OU/NCSY Israel Center, Jerusalem Home Page : http://www.cyberscribe.com/tt
(1) We are meant for greatness
The two sons were not content to remain lowly actors! The many
alternative ways to offer sacrifices in this week's Torah portion were
text not enough for them. And they were not satisfied with a role in
blessing the nation ("And Aharon raised his hands towards the
2 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet) nation and blessed them ... And Moshe and Aharon came to the
Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel Tent of Meeting, and left, and they blessed the nation" [Vayikra 9:22-
G-D'S GLORY, IN THE TABERNACLE AND WITHIN THE NATION 23]). The challenge of participating in the general revelation ("And G-
by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, Principal of the Medrasha for Girls, Bar d's glory was seen by the entire nation" [Vayikra 9:23]) was not
Ilan University exciting enough for them.
The verse in this week's Torah portion, "And G-d's glory was The view which sees them as separatist and elitist, refusing to
seen by the entire nation" [Vayikra 9:23], seems at first glance to be join the general public, is what has made them a symbol for all times.
out of place. Isn't this a repeat of what is written at the end of They provide a lesson for anyone who feels that he is destined for
Shemot, "And G-d's glory filled the Tabernacle" [Shemot 40:34,35]? greatness, and who therefore doesn't want to deal with small
Why did the Torah find it necessary to repeat this? And, if it was matters, evolutionary changes which are carried out "according to
necessary, why weren't all the details of the dedication of the the rules," taking into account human capabilities and historical
Tabernacle repeated? trends, and performed in cooperation with the entire community.
The purpose of the Tabernacle was given in the Torah: "Let them The warning included in these words is as well known as a
build me a Tabernacle, and I will dwell within them" [Shemot 25:8]. signpost. There is no need in our discussion to warn against fanatic
As the Midrash explains, "This is the reason they left Egypt, that they religious activity which may be great and momentous by itself but is
would make a Tabernacle, and the Divine Presence would appear still a source of potential danger for the religious sector as a whole.
within them" [Torat Cohanim Bechukotai]. However, in the earlier However, while the principle is well known, there seems to be a
verse, G-d's glory is described as appearing not within the nation but problem with applying it in a practical case. There was no problem in
in the Tabernacle, "and G-d's honor FILLED THE TABERNACLE," identifying those who broke into the holy area in the ideal conditions
and no revelation to Bnei Yisrael is mentioned. On the other hand, of the desert, when the wrong act was punished by G-d's swift
this week's portion emphasizes revelation to the people: "For today, reaction. Nowadays, in the complicated natural surroundings of the
G-d will be revealed to you ... This is what G-d has commanded you "atchalta degeula" [the beginning of the era of redemption], it may not
to do, and the glory of G-d will be revealed to you ... And G-d's glory be easy to identify the current brand of "Aharon's sons," but it is
was revealed to the entire nation" [Vayikra 9:4,6,23]. The change possible to analyze certain trends which characterize them.
from revelation within the Tabernacle to revelation to the nation was The root of all the evil is self-confidence which stems from pride.
the subject of the long and detailed commandments of the various There is a small elusive turning point, which is very hard to catch as
sacrifices. it is being crossed, during which faith in G-d becomes transformed
Revelation in the Tabernacle can be compared to the events at into absolute confidence that G-d desires certain specific actions.
Sinai. As the Ramban wrote at the beginning of the portion of And "pride of the group" is replaced by nothing more than pure,
Teruma, the role of the Tabernacle was "that the Presence which unadulterated pride. The result is an absolute faith in the one and
was revealed at Sinai would openly rest on it [the Tabernacle]." The only way, and this leads to hautiness and contempt for the average
Ramban notes many similar phrases at Sinai and in the Tabernacle. people, those poor souls who have not yet found the right path or
For example, "And G-d's glory appeared on Mount Sinai, and it was reached the stage of those who can enter the highest level of
covered by a cloud" [Shemot 24:26]; "And the cloud covered it ... and holiness.
G-d's glory filled the Tabernacle" [40:34]. The Divine appearance (2) In favor of a well planned average
within the Tabernacle plays the same role as at Sinai: revelation of G- To make my point clearer: As far as I am concerned, religious
d to Moshe and to Bnei Yisrael, in order to teach them the Torah and Zionism is suffering from a traumatic feeling of remaining in the
the mitzvot. The Tent of Meeting can be viewed as a continuation of middle of the road. It no longer satisfies us to be a junior partner of
the momentous events of Sinai. larger and greater movements. In our hearts, we would prefer to be
However, this is only one of the objectives of the Tabernacle. Its the leaders - "a Prime Minister with faith" is no longer a utopian
second role is mentioned in this week's portion: it is meant to be a dream but has become an overt goal, sometimes explicit and
tool of Divine inspiration to Bnei Yisrael. Revelation can come with sometimes deep within the heart. The "insignificant" question of
almost no advance preparation, but inspiration requires hard work on whether people today are interested in following such a leader is
our part. It is only after the Tabernacle has been used for sacrifices, unimportant in the eyes of those who are convinced that theirs is the
showing the surrender of man before G-d, that we can expect the right way. From the heights of slogans about "a great spirit," the
Shechina to serve as a source of inspiration to man and to the mundane character of current politics and the need to give in to
nation. constraints and difficulties appear to be completely unnecessary. But
The two different concepts of revelation are noted in the holiday this is a fundamental mistake: One who teaches to remain at the
prayers: "Build your house as in the beginning, and establish your greatest heights should remember that a fall from a height can cause
Temple at its site" - this refers to Divine revelation. Our yearning for the most harm. To maintain the average is not a sign of narrow-
the inspiration of the Shechina within us then appears in the mindedness!
continuation of the prayers, "Return the kohanim to their worship ... I am in favor of a middle of the road approach based on
and return Yisrael to their dwelling places ... as you wished, and as contemplation - looking at the nation and at society, and at the
you promised to bless us." partners along the way, including listening and paying attention.
TORAH OCCASIONS: Shabbat Chatan There is a time for the average path. "Three things come when they
by Rabbi Yehuda Shaviv are least expected: Mashiach, a discovery, and a scorpion"
There are two different customs related to the special Shabbat for [Sanhedrin 97a]. In addition to the usual interpretation, which sees
a groom marking his wedding. The Sephardi custom is to celebrate this passage as implying that it is wrong to try and predict when the
on the Shabbat after the wedding, while the Ashkenazi communities Mashiach will arrive (an interpretation which has served as a pitfall
celebrate on the preceding Shabbat. The Sephardi custom might for many good people), this is also a call against ideological pride.
seem to be more reasonable, in that it marks an event which has The Mashiach will not come when man makes plans for him. He will
already taken place, while the Ashkenazi custom is in honor of arrive when he is not expected, and not according to a plan
something which is still in the future. On the other hand, celebrating formulated by someone who knows better than anyone else when the
on the Shabbat before a wedding emphasizes aspects of appropriate time has arrived.
preparation, yearning, and tense preparedness. An actual event has THE TEMPLE AND THE TORAH PORTION: Being Intoxicated in
a different atmosphere than during the advance preparation, and the Temple
preparation contains aspects which do not appear in the activity by Gedalya Ginsburg
itself. Rituals are performed in a standard way, including the It is forbidden for someone who is intoxicated to enter the
marriage ceremony itself, seven special blessings, reading of the Temple, as is written, "Do not drink wine ... when you come to the
ketuba, etc. How can an individual approach be expressed? The Tent of Meeting" [Vayikra 10:9]. There are four conditions necessary
answer is in the preparations, which can be different for each to cause intoxication: (1) Drinking a "revi'it" of wine (between 86 and
person, and are not limited by customs and halachot. The main 150 ml); (2) The wine must be full strength, and not diluted; (3) It
aspect of preparation is the in the heart, ruled by imagination and must be drunk all at once; and (4) It must be at least 40 days old.
feeling, and this can be filled by dreams and aspirations. This At night, when the rituals are not performed, priests are permitted
1 to drink wine. Moreover, a Kohen who belongs to the priestly
family whose turn it is to work in the Temple is not permitted to drink MACHON MEIR - http://www.virtual.co.il/education/machon-meir/parasha.htm
even if he is not in Jerusalem participating in the work. At first AS OF NOW: Both Sefirah and the Elections call for mutual
glance, it might seem that a Kohen who doesn't know to which family respect.
he belongs might be forbidden to drink wine every day of the year, Rabbi Dov Bigon
since any day might be the day he should be on duty. However, this During Sefirah, the "counting" of the days between Passover and
would be too stringent a ruling to abide by, and such a Kohen is Shavuot, we customarily avoid great merriment. Couples do not wed.
therefore allowed to drink, until he is assigned to a specific family. We neither take haircuts nor shave. All this is because in the past,
Just as a Kohen is forbidden to enter the Temple while during this period, the students of Rabbi Akiva died because they did
intoxicated, so it is forbidden to make halachic decisions while drunk, not treat one another with respect.
as is written, "Do not drink wine ... to teach Bnei Yisrael" [Vayikra These customs, associated with mourning, not only serve to
10:11]. It is said that Rabbi Alfandri would very quickly finish his remind us of the tragic death of Rabbi Akiva's students, but also
prayers on the night of Pesach, follow with a rapid recitation of the teach us and all generations that we must treat one another with
Seder, and then go to sleep. When he awoke, after the effect of respect. This lesson is especially addressed to Torah scholars, who
drinking the four cups of wine had passed, he would be able to share the heartfelt goal of sanctifying G-d's name publicly through
answer questions from his community related to their own Seders. their pleasant conduct and their good relations with their fellow men.
A MITZVA IN THE TORAH PORTION: "To Distinguish Between Right now we are both in Sefirah and on the eve of elections. It is
the Clean and the Unclean" [Vayikra 11:47] a time of power struggles between different personalities and
by Rabbi Elyakim Krombein political parties. At this time, we must be exceedingly careful to
The above verse describes a mitzva in addition to the prohibition show respect to our fellow man. After all, true wisdom and courage
of eating flesh of animals which are not kosher. According to the consist of honoring your fellow man even when you do not identify or
Raavad and the Ramban, this is not a specific negative agree with him. We all have one Father, our Father in heaven, and
commandment, but a prohibition resulting from the negative aspect G-d loves those who love His children.
of a positive mitzva. The Sefirah period and the election period should serve as a
However, the Rambam lists this verse in his tally of the mitzvot. ladder that we climb gradually, day by day, improving our character
Even though he notes that it is a "prohibition which results from a traits and our deeds. And let us pray that as a result, when we reach
positive mitzva," he writes, "He has commanded us to check the the top of the ladder we will merit elections that bring good to the
signs of a slaughtered animal. And the command to check this is a Jewish People, thus adding appropriate joy to our Shavuot festival.
positive mitzva" [Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot, Introduction]. The Sefer INTELLECT OR FAITH
Hachinuch understood, for example, that one who eats meat based Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
on the fact that the animal has cloven hoofs without checking to see Question: Is there a rational response to every question regarding
if it also chews its cud has not fulfilled the mitzva, even if it later turns G-d and Judaism, or is there some point beyond the comprehension
out that the animal was indeed kosher. of our limited intellect?
The Rivash also understood that this is a positive mitzva Answer: Certainly, the human intellect is not all powerful, but
(responsa, 192), and he viewed it as having far-ranging fathoms only a small portion of the spiritual reality. Yet that portion is
consequences: Not only is it necessary to check in case of doubt, very precious in our sight, and we must strive to develop it to its
but even if the majority of the animals are kosher, it is necessary to fullest. There are two extremist perceptions: (1) that it is possible to
make absolutely sure, and to remove any room for doubt. understand everything by means of the intellect; and (2) that it is
Does this requirement to recheck only apply to the signs of impossible to understand anything at all.
kashrut of a species, or is it related to other aspects of kashrut? And we, the students of Moses, strive with our intellects to the
According to the Avnei Nezer, the requirement of special checks is very limit of our ability, and then we open up a much more profound
also related to a doubt in the validity of the slaughtering process and lofty window -- that of faith. Rambam writes at the end of his
(Yoreh Dei'a 1). He bases his opinion on the commentary of the Sefer HaAvodah:
sages, that the verse "between the clean and the unclean" means "A person should ponder the laws of the holy Torah and do his
"between an animal whose artery or windpipe was fully cut or one utmost to clarify the mitzvot fully. If there is a mitzvah for which he
which was only half cut." He explains that for this reason it is cannot find a reason or cause, he should not view that mitzvah
necessary for a ritual slaughterer to be tested on his knowledge of lightly, nor should he venture beyond the bounds of permissible
the halachot of shechita, and the general rule that "most of those theology."
who are involved in ritual slaughtering know the laws" is not Likewise, Rambam wrote briefly regarding the laws of sacrifices:
acceptable. "Even though all the laws of the Torah are decrees, it is fitting to
On the other hand, the author of the Lev Samayach, a reflect upon them, and to ascribe reasons to the mitzvot wherever
commentary on the Sefer Hamitzvot of the Rambam, writes that possible."
even if there is a positive mitzva it does not have specific practical Our faculty of faith, stored away in the depths of the soul,
consequences but is concerned with a general principle, that we are transcends the intellect. The soul itself is part of G-d on High. By
commanded to actively avoid from all types of sin. means of our faith, we fathom immeasurably deeper and loftier
ART IN THE TORAH: "From Everything in the Water" [Vayikra matters than we do by means of the intellect. Yet faith has its limits
11:9] as well. There is a lofty realm where even faith does not reach. And
by Shlomit Perlman beyond faith there is Ruach HaKodesh, literally "the holy spirit,"
The artist Naftali Bazam was born in Germany in 1924, and he divine intuition showered from above, enabling one to reach higher
made aliya two weeks before the beginning of World War Two. His and higher. Ruach HaKodesh as well has many levels to it. Yet it,
parents were killed in the Holocaust. His pictures make regular use too, has limitations, and there is a point beyond which a person with
of several symbols. For example, Shabbat candlesticks represent Ruach HaKodesh cannot discern anything.
holiness. In the memorial wall he designed for Yad Vashem, in Above Ruach HaKodesh there is "Nevu'ah," prophecy. Nevu'ah,
Jerusalem, he describes the Holocaust in bas relief, where a woman as well, has different levels, and it, too, has its limitations. Beyond
is holding an upside down candelabra, and a smokestack burns her Nevu'ah there is the prophecy of Moses, who could talk to G-d face
together with the candlesticks. Perhaps he wanted to show the to face, unlike all the other prophets: "Not so, My servant Moses..."
attempt to destroy the Jews both physically and spiritually, leading to (Numbers 12:7). Yet there is even a level above that of Moses, and it
a desecration of the holy name. is the prophecy of Adam, before the first sin...
In some of his pictures, there are fish. This silent creature Above Adam there is the great light which will be revealed after
conjures up memories of the Shabbat table, of Purim (the Zodiacal the Resurrection of the Dead.
sign of Adar is fish), of Yom Kippur (some people have a custom to ANIMALS THAT MAY BE CONSUMED
perform the Kaparot ritual with fish instead of a chicken), and of Rabbi Ya'akov HaLevi Filber
Rosh Hashana (with its custom of eating the head of a fish, in order In Bava Metzia 85a we are told about Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi
to be "at the head and not the tail"). The sculpture at Yad Vashem ("Rebbe") who was beset by physical suffering because of a
includes a fish without a head, which provides a very powerful particular incident, and who ultimately had that suffering cease due
symbol of the era of the Holocaust. In other pictures by Bazam, the to another incident. What happened was as follows:
fish have wings. While this may not be realistic, it shows a yearning One time a calf was being brought to slaughter (at the time,
and a dream. In addition, these may represent scales and fins, Rebbe was teaching Torah in the Babylonian Jews' study house in
indicating that the fish is kosher. Tzippori -- see Bereshit Rabbah 33). The calf fled and hid beneath
IN THE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS: My Jewish Bookshelf Rebbe's cloak, lowing and weeping, as if crying out to be saved.
This phrase, "my bookshelf," is no longer restricted to a select Rebbe said to it, "Go! It is for this that you were born!" Heaven
few. Everyone who wants to claim that he is familiar with Judaism responded, "Because he does not show mercy, let suffering befall
uses it to symbolize his knowledge. When a student in a religious him," and for thirteen years, he suffered toothaches. One day,
school uses the term, he refers to an additional element, all of the Rebbe's handmaiden was cleaning the house. Some infant weasels
basic Torah literature. In many cases, such students only see these were lying there, and the handmaiden began to sweep them away.
sources second hand, through teachers and in textbooks. When can Rebbe said, "Leave them be. It says, 'G-d has mercy upon all of His
they have the privilege of studying from the original books? As was creations' (Psalms 145:9)." Heaven said, "Since he is showing
written by Rabbi Yitzchak Kanfanton, a person's wisdom is limited by mercy, we will have mercy upon him."
the books which he sees. Seemingly we might ask: What was so severe about Rebbe's
Because of this principle, the Noam Hatzvi school in Rechovot saying to the calf, "Go! It is for this that you were created"? Are these
has insisted that the students prepare for the annual school project - not the facts of life, that "a beast's end is to be slaughtered"
on the subject of "The Privilege of Honor and the Need to Give (Berachot 17a)? An answer to this question is provided by Rabbi
Honor" - from original source books. It is from these books that they Avraham Yitzchak Kook, in his article "Afikim BaNegev" (letter 6).
will learn how to honor parents and how not to insult their friends, There he explains that Rebbe, by saying to the calf, "It is for this that
among other things. Since it can be quite expensive to fill a library you were created," seemed to be declaring that G-d had set forth an
with all the necessary books, the Center for Religious Education has eternal law by which man must forever survive by means of
made a significant donation to the school, in order to make the shedding the blood of animals. Rabbi Kook writes:
project possible. "It is unimaginable that the Master of all Creation, who takes
mercy on His creatures, would attach an eternal law of this sort to
His best creation, such that it would be impossible for the human
3 - MACHON MEIR 2 race to survive without disturbing its ethical sensitivities through
bloodshed, albeit the blood of animals." directs Aharon and his two remaining sons-Elazar and Isamar-to
Rabbi Kook therefore explains that when the Torah says, consume the Mincha of the sin offering of the Milu'im (used to impair
"Dominate the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every beast the Satan's ability to prosecute) and the Mincha of the sin offering of
that walks the land" (Genesis 1:28), it does not refer to the Nachshon Ben Aminadav.
domination of a dictator who mistreats his nation and servants only to "And Moshe spoke to Aharon and to Elazar and Isamar, his
attain his personal desires and whims. Heaven forbid that such an remaining sons, 'Take the remaining meal offering from the fires
ugly law of servitude as that should be sealed in the eternal stamp of of HaShem, and consume it as matzo next to the Mizbai'ach
the universe of G-d, who is good to all, and who shows mercy to all (altar), for it is holy (Vayikra 10:12)!'"
His creatures. Yet, Aharon and his sons were as of this day O'nanim-mourners
The permissibility of slaughtering and consuming animals is not between the death and internment of Nadav and Avihu who died on
so obvious. Even so, the Torah permitted such consumption to all of that day. May O'nanim eat Kodshim (holy food)? What Moshe told
mankind without limitation, and partially permitted it to the Jewish Aharon and his two sons was that they in fact had an obligation to
People. In his work "Ikarim" (3:15), Rabbi Yosef Elbo remarks that in eat Kodshim even while they were O'nanim. This can be seen from
the Torah there is no uniformity regarding consumption of meat. At the next Passuk where Moshe states the following.
first, meat was totally forbidden to Adam. Later on, all the "And you will eat them in a holy place, for this is a statute for you
descendants of Noah were permitted to eat all animals. That which and your sons from the fires of HaShem, for so I myself was
was totally allowed to the descendants of Noah was later on partially commanded (Vayikra 10:13)!"
forbidden to the Jewish People. Rabbi Elbo's explanation of this is Now, Aharon and his two remaining sons consumed the two sin
that killing animals and consuming them has a negative influence offerings of the Milu'im and that of Nachshon, along with the Mincha
upon a person: of each as per the dictate of Moshe. Yet, they did not consume the
"Besides the cruelty and rage involved in killing living things, and sin offering of Rosh Chodesh. They burned it up instead. The Torah
the potential for man to learn even to kill for no reason, consuming tells us what happened when Moshe discovered this.
meat of some animals further leads to one's soul being spiritually "And the goat sin offering (of Rosh Chodesh) was sought out by
blunted and desensitized. As it says regarding a few of the animals Moshe, and behold it was burnt, and he became angered at
forbidden to Israel: 'It will make you spiritually insensitive' (Leviticus Elazar and Isamar the remaining sons of Aharon, saying " "Why
11:43)." (see there his explanation of the difference between Adam, have you not eaten the sin offering in a holy place, for it is holy;
Noah and the Jewish People). you have been charged to lift the sin of the congregation, to
Regarding meat consumption Rabbi Kook wrote that from the atone for them before HaShem (Vayikra 10:16-17)?"
Torah's language we see that the license to consume meat is only In his wrath, Moshe attempts to lock Aharon and his sons into a
given after the fact, for it says: "When your natural desire to eat meat dilemma. The 'Yalkut Mai'Am Lo'aiz' details the exchange of Moshe
asserts itself, so that you say, 'I wish to eat meat,' you may eat as and Aaron in the following manner. Moshe begins. "Did you burn up
much meat as you wish" (Deuteronomy 12:20). This language the Rosh Chodesh sin offering because you thought that it could not
contains veiled rebuke and places limitations on meat consumption. be eaten by O'nanim? If so, why did you eat the sin offering of the
Yet men presently are at such an abject moral level that they Milu'im and the one of Nachshon Ben Aminadav? They too are
seek dominance of each other to do one another harm. As long as Kodshim (holy)?" "And, if you ate the sin offerings of the Milu'im and
such is the case, it is laughable that while one's impurity remains the one of Nachshon Ben Aminadav because you heard from me
within him he should hypocritically show exaggerated kindness to that you are to eat the Mincha of each of these even though you are
animals, as though he has already gotten rid of the dominion of O'nanim, why did you not also eat the sin offering of Rosh
wickedness and falsehood, hatred and jealousy between nations, Chodesh?"
which leads to the shedding of rivers of blood. Therefore, with no Moshe further applies pressure to Aharon and his sons by asking
choice but to wait for man to move towards serving G-d intellectually, an additional three questions. "Perhaps the Rosh Chodesh sin
and to ascend spiritually to a more exalted age, the Torah allowed for offering was taken out of the bounds of the Mishkan, rendering it
restricted meat consumption. unfit for you to eat?" Aharon replies that this was not the case.
HASSIDIC SAYINGS Moshe persists again.
When a man stands on the bottom rung of a ladder "Perhaps you spilled the blood of the Rosh Chodesh sin offering
He checks to see if he is standing firmly on the Mizbai'ach HaPenimi (the inner altar), which would also
And only then does he continue climbing to the next rung. render it unfit for you to eat?" Again, Aharon replies in the
It is the same with serving the Creator. negative, yet Moshe still endures. "Perhaps you originally
We have to climb gradually, level by level. brought the organs of the Rosh Chodesh sin offering up the
(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk) ramp of the outer Mizbai'ach when you were O'nanim, making it
It says, "[In the Temple] they were crowded when standing, but unfit for you to eat?"
had ample space to prostrate themselves." (Avot 5:5). As long as At this juncture, the normally peaceful Aharon was forced to
we stand haughtily straight, we feel crowded. Yet when we abandon his defensive position, and take up an offensive one
humbly prostrate ourselves, we have room. against his inflexible brother who was now filled with rage.
(Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk "If you suspect that the reason for burning the Rosh Chodesh sin
offering was that it may not be brought up by Kohanim who are
O'nanim, this suspicion may be true of Kohanim Hedyotim
4 - NYCI (Block)
NCYI Weekly Divrei Torah, From:Kenneth Block (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(regular Kohanim) like Elazar and Isamar. However, I was the
one who brought up the Rosh Chodesh sin offering-the Halacha
Rabbi Moshe Greebel being that a Kohain Gadol (high priest) like myself may even do
ANGER MANAGEMENT so while being an Onan!" "And if you persist in asking why we
"And it came to pass on the eighth day " Here, the Torah refers burned up the Rosh Chodesh sin offering without eating it, and
to Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the second year of the Exodus from did in fact eat the other two sin offerings and their Menachos
Egypt-a most eventful day indeed, as we shall see from the (meal offerings), know that the sin offerings of the Milu'im and of
Gemarah in Shabbos (87b). Nachshon Ben Aminadav are offerings that are brought up only
" It was taught that this day took up ten crowns (it was the first for one time in history! Their level of Kedusha is minimal. However,
ten things-Rashi). It was the first to the act of creation (Sunday- the Rosh Chodesh sin offering is brought up every month for all
Rashi). It was the first to the Nesi'im (the chieftains of the twelve generations. Hence, its Kedusha (holiness) is so high that
tribes who made offerings starting on the first day the Mishkan Kohanim who are O'nanim may not eat of it! That is why it was
[Tabernacle] was reared up and dedicated-Rashi). It was the first burned! This is the true Halacha, and frankly, I do not
for the Kehunah (the priesthood of Aharon and his sons who had understand your anger!"
spent the last seven days in the Milu'im [initiation]-Rashi). It was "And Moshe heard this, and it was good in his eyes (Vayikra
the first for the Avodah (the service of the Kohanim who began to 10:20)."
bring daily offerings-Rashi). It was the first for the descending of The 'Targum Yonason' and the 'Yalkut Re'uveini' explain that at
fire from Heaven (which consumed the offerings-Rashi). It was this point, Moshe made a public announcement in the camp of Israel
the first for the eating of the sacred food (within the bounds of stating, "What Aharon says is true! This is exactly what HaShem
the Mishkan-Rashi). It was the first for the Shechinah (Divine commanded me-yet, I have forgotten the Halacha, and Aharon
Spirit of HaShem) dwelling in the midst of Israel. It was the first taught it to me!"
for the blessing of Israel (by the Kohanim-Rashi). It was the first The Midrash Rabbah further explains that unwarranted anger is
for the prohibition (of bringing offerings) on Bamos (altars not so dreadful a thing, that it caused Moshe Rabbainu to forget the
within the bounds of the Mishkan-Rashi). It was the first of the Halacha.
monthly cycle (Nissan)." Yet, it was also a day of tragedy as we There is a most enchanting episode in the life of Rav Simcha
see from the Gemarah in Megillah (10b). Bunim, an episode that offers us quite an unusual view of Anger
"It was taught that on that day there was joy before the Holy One Management.
Blessed Be He, as on the day Heaven and earth were created In the Bais Hamidrash of the Admur R' Ya'akov Yitchok Ben R'
(However), Nadav and Avihu (two of Aharon's four sons) died on Asher of Przysucha, known as the Yehudi HaKadosh (Der Heiliger
that day!" Yid-the Holy Jew-1766-1814 C.E.), a designated Ba'al Tokeah
Additionally regrettable, it was a day on which Moshe Rabbainu (Shofar blower) was never appointed. Rather, after the recitation of
expressed anger in an unwarranted manner. This then, is the the Haftorah on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Rebbe, R'
subject of our D'var Torah. On this eighth day from when the Milu'im Ya'akov Yitchok, would announce from the Bimah, "All who wish to
began, three goats-sin offerings-were offered. The first was a sin act as Ba'al Tokeah, should stand before the Aron HaKodesh!"
offering brought for Rosh Chodesh. The second was the sin offering Without a doubt, there was always a goodly supply of candidates
brought by the Nesi'im-the first of which on that day was that of every year. After all, which Ba'al Tokeah would pass up the
Nachshon Ben Aminadav of the tribe of Yehuda for the dedication of opportunity to sound the Shofar in the Bais Hamidrash of the Heiliger
the Mishkan. The third sin offering of a goat was brought in order Yid? When the last aspirant took up his position before the Aron
that the Satan not prosecute Israel for the selling of Yosef by his HaKodesh, the Rebbe would inspect his troops. Looking deep into
brothers who slaughtered a goat, the blood of which they smeared the eyes of each, R' Ya'akov Yitzchok penetrated the very Neshama
on the tunic of Yosef in an attempt to deceive their father Ya'akov. of every man lined up before him. The one who was seen by the
As is well known, one of the things that accompanies every Rebbe as the purest and most uncontaminated of heart, became the
Korban (offering) is a Mincha (a meal offering). Moshe now 3 designated Ba'al Tokeah for that Rosh Hashanah.
Immediately thereafter, the Rebbe would bring his selection to a one of the most important ways Jews kept together as one ethnic
private chamber-there, to transmit to the Ba'al Tokeah designate the community despite our close to 2,000 year long exile in lands all over
deepest of profundities, secrets, symbolisms, and mysteries of the the globe was due to our insistence of the laws of Kashrut. It may
Mitzvah of Shofar. This was followed by the two immersing truly be said that even more than the Jews kept kosher, the laws of
themselves in the Mikvah. kashrut kept the Jews - from assimilation. One of the interesting
Returning to the Bais Hamidrash, R' Ya'akov Yitzchok would take things about the portion of Shmini,where we are first given the laws
the Ba'al Tokeah aside once more and admonish him to make of Kashrut, is that this portion always follows the festival of Passover
certain that any and all forms of anger were to be removed from his (except during leap years, when a 13 month year causes a re-
heart prior to his sounding of the Shofar. The two then re-entered adjustment of all the weekly portions). I would like to suggest that the
the Bais Hamidrash. appearance of Shmini after Passover is not fortuitous, on the basis
Now, one of the Chassidim of Przysucha was Rav Simcha of an idea suggested by the Pri Tzadik, (R. Tzadik haKohen of
Bunim. To sustain his family, he became a chemist and salesman of Lublin) in his Torah commentary.
his own pharmaceuticals. Every few months he would remove his It has been said that Jews love to eat and speak; just witness a
Chassidishe clothing, don the garments of a German businessman Jewish organizational dinner and you can see the truth of this
of the times, take his wares, and travel to the fairs of Leipzig. characterization. But it is interesting to note that the Festival of
Regrettably, some of the other Chassidim of Przysucha would all Passover - and specifically the night of the Seder - commands these
too often denigrate Rav Simcha behind his back for removing his two exercises by Divine mandate:"And you shall tell your children" of
Chassidishe clothing. They would refer to him as the Ashkenazi- the the Egyptian servitude and exodus, "And in the evening you shall eat
'German'. matzot." the Seder is truly the mother of all Jewish dinners".
One Rosh Hashanah, as per the custom of the Bais Hamidrash On a more serious note, it is only on the evening of Passover that
of Przysucha, the Rebbe summoned up to the Aron HaKodesh the we recite a blessing on the act of eating itself: 'Blessed art thou O
aspiring candidates. Among them, to the utter stupefaction of the Lord our G-d, ruler of the world, who made us holy by His
assembled crowd, Rav Simcha Bunim-the Ashkenazi, stood in line. commandments and commanded us to observe the eating of
And, as if this were not sufficient, the Rebbe selected none other matzoh..' Matzah, as a form of wheat, receives its due blessing as
than Rav Simcha to serve as Ba'al Tokeah. Incredible! bread, whose formulation we know is "who brings forth bread from
The two then repaired to the Rebbe's private chamber, wherein the earth". At the seder, and only at the seder, all of Israel make
Rav Simcha was taught the above mentioned profundities, secrets, blessings which sanctify the specific act of eating, al achilat.
symbolisms, and mysteries of the Mitzvah of Shofar. After According to the Pri Tzadik, who emerges from the Kabbalistic and
immersion in the Mikvah, before the Rebbe had the opportunity to hassidic traditions, this particular stress on eating, a blessing over
pull his candidate aside for the annual admonition against anger the eating of matzoh and over the eating of maror, and, in Temple
prior to Tekias HaShofar, Rav Simcha declared to R' Ya'akov times, over the eating of the paschal lamb, is a repair or fixing
Yitzchok, "Rebbe, I have never blown a Shofar in my entire life! (tikkun) for Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, whose cardinal
Perhaps, you should select another." sin involved eating a forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of
Totally bewildered, the Rebbe turned accusingly on Rav Simcha, good and evil.
and queried, "Why did you do this if you had no intention to serve as In what way was Adam the human being different from the other
Ba'al Tokeah?" "Rebbe," replied Rav Simcha, "among all men, I am animals in G-d's creation? Adam, in contradistinction to the animals
the least worthy for this auspicious honor. My intention was only to and beasts, was given a commandment, and this commandment
hear your magnificent Torah concerning Tekias HaShofar.""Welling related to the act of eating:"And the Lord G-d commanded the
up with irritation, R' Ya'akov Yitzchok objected, "But, you have human being saying 'of all the fruits of the garden you many surely
deceived me!" eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you may not
"Deception, under certain circumstances, is permissible," eat.."(Genesis 2:16,17).
responded Rav Simcha. "This, I learned from Moshe Rabbainu Food represents all physical pleasures; it even serves as
when he was at the S'neh (the Burning Bush). A close metaphor for sexual enjoyment (Gen 39:6). The Almighty, by His
examination of the Passukim there will reveal the true dialogue solitary commandment to Adam, is defining the human being as one
between HaShem and Moshe, when the latter was told to return who is to enjoy the physical aspects of this world ("from all the fruits
to Mitzrayim (Egypt). The Torah states, 'And Moshe said to you are to surely eat"), but at the same time must discipline
HaShem, "Behold! I am to come to the B'nai Yisrael, and say to him/herself by limiting his/her consumption; in this way the human
them, 'The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you'; they will say being becomes endowed with sanctity, and is given the challenge of
to me, 'What is His name?'; what then, shall I say to them sanctifying every aspect of the physical world around him. Man and
(Shemos 3:13)?" "HaShem discloses to Moshe the Holy name, woman may glory in their physical natures as well as in the manifold
together with its profundities and mysteries. Yet, in the magnificent aspects of physical nature surrounding them; but they
subsequent Perek, Moshe states, ' .My L-rd, I beseech You, by must uplift, ennoble and sanctify themselves and their world.
the hand of whom You will send (Shemos4:11).' That is, it Tragically, Adam and Eve failed this, their first test and their
would be best to send someone else on this mission." solitary command. Humanity's exile, mankinds original slavery, in
"When HaShem asked Moshe why he had come so far, only to effect begins when Adam and Eve are driven out of the Garden of
eliminate himself in the end, Moshe replied, 'Because of my Eden. As punishment, from that point onwards acquiring food would
failures, I never had any intention of fulfilling this mission. My no longer be a simple matter. "Thorns also and thistles shall it (the
only goal was to hear the name of HaShem, and to discover its earth) bring forth, and you shall eat of the herb of the field. In the
profundity!'" "That," declared Rav Simcha, "is where I learned sweat of your face shall you eat bread..." (Gen. 3:18-19). Food would
that for the sake of receiving Torah, one may deceive his become the focus of life - but it would be the acquisition and
Master!" preparation of food, and it would require great effort and hardship.
R' Ya'akov Yitzchok objected, "But, if you look at the next When Israel emerges as a nation, the first Festival they celebrate
Passuk, you will see that it states, 'And the anger of HaShem was is the holiday of Passover. The seder is indeed the mother of all
kindled against Moshe... (Shemos 4:14).' Therefore, Moshe was dinners - because it celebrates and sanctifies special foods as a
wrong in deceiving his Master!" means to an end, as an aspect of lovingkindness by sharing with
Calmly, Rav Simcha replied, "Yes, that is quite true. But, you those who are hungry, a symbol of transforming ancient memory into
see, the dialogue between HaShem and Moshe did not take place at personal family experience, as an important but preparatory element
the time of Tekias HaShofar-a time when any anger is forbidden. Our in a drama established to communicate Torah and praise G-d. It is
dialogue does, and you may not be angry with me for what I did." an act of eating which is truly mitzvah, a repair for the primordial act
It is said that so pleased was the Rebbe with Rav Simcha's of eating which brought dearth to humanity. >From this perspective,
purity, that he placed his hands on the disciple's shoulders and we can readily understand how the laws of kashrut in the portion of
kissed his head. Years later, when Der Heiliger Yid left this world, Shmini continue the lesson of Passover seder in teaching us how to
Rav Simcha Bunim became the Rebbe of Przysucha. sanctify the physical world through our attitude towards food.
Kashrut is our way of saying no to the serpent forever waiting in the
5 – RAV RISKIN
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: http://www.ohrtorah.org.il/index.htm#top
Efrat, Israel - Jews are unique for many reasons, but one of our 6 -PROJECT GENESIS
The Jewish Learning Network Email: email@example.com URL: http://www.torah.org/
most unique aspects is our laws of Kashrut. Kosher, both the word
and the concept, has certainly penetrated the English language; not A). PG LIFELINE:
only is it a description of certain rigorous rules relating to food, but its "Moshe heard, and it was good in his eyes." [Lev. 10:20]
use now applies it to areas of legitimacy. Is it kosher, a Gentile real Shortly after the death of Aharon's two sons, Nadav and Avihu,
estate magnate might well ask his assistant who has just presented Moshe challenged the remaining sons: "why did you not eat the sin-
his boss with an outline for putting together a certain land deal. offering?" The sin-offering was to be eaten by the Cohanim, by the
Shmini, this week's portion, introduces us to the laws of priests, and yet they burned the entire offering rather than eating their
kashrut."Of all the animals in the world, these are the ones that you portion. Aharon responded to Moshe, according to our
may eat. Among mammals, you may eat one that true hooves, that commentators, that he himself had brought the sacrifice, after Nadav
are cloven, and that brings up its cud." (Lev. 10:2) The text further and Avihu's death - because as the Cohen Gadol, the High Priest, he
insists that only fish with fins and scales may be consumed. And we was permitted to offer sacrifices even while an 'Onen', while he was
have very specific laws of slaughtering - which, in the main stress as awaiting the burial of an immediate relative.
quick and painless a death as possible for the animal, - as well as a And, Aharon continued, as an 'Onen' he was not permitted to
process of salting and soaking the meat in order to get rid of as _consume_ the sacrifice! And Moshe listened, and realized that
much as the blood as possible ("for the blood is the life-soul"), and Aharon was right.
finally the prohibition of eating meat and milk together ("Thou shalt Yet, according to the Torah, Moshe not only agreed with Aharon's
not seethe a kid in its mother's milk"). decision, and recognized that Aharon had understood the Halacha,
In addition to the message of moral ambiguity involved in the Law, correctly - but "it was good in his eyes." He was happy.
consuming meat - and the concomitant issue of compassion which What was it that pleased Moshe?
limits our meat intake - which the laws of kashrut seems to be The Toras Moshe instructs us to look back, to the reaction of
teaching, what and where a Jew will eat goes a long way in Aharon immediately following his sons' deaths. The Torah says that
determining Jewish identity, from a sociological perspective, 4 Moshe said to Aharon, "this is what G-d said, 'I will be sanctified
with those who are near Me, and before the entire nation I will be destruction of the Temple and he gave them 18 curses. He told them
honored.'" [10:3] Yet Aharon had no response: "And Aharon was of the terrible things that would befall them. Included in these things
silent." [ibid.] was that "there would not be found in Israel one versed in Chumash
At that point, one could ask why Aharon had no reaction. Was it or in Mishneh, in Talmud or in Aggadah; there would be no Judges
because he accepted with love everything that G-d gave him, or was and no Prophets and no one capable of sitting in a Yeshiva." But the
he filled with pain, bitterness and anger? One couldn't be certain, ultimate curse he told them was that "... they shall behave haughtily,
because Aharon was silent. the youth against the elder and the base against the honorable."
But now, after discussing the consumption of the sin-offering, [Isaiah 3:5].
Moshe saw that Aharon was able to discuss and think about an issue We can somehow live with ignorance and with the absence of
of Jewish Law very clearly, using all his faculties, and was able to Prophets, but when does Klal Yisroel descend to the deepest of pits?
resolve the question even better than Moshe himself. This made it When do they hit rock bottom? When there is no honor given to
obvious that Aharon was not consumed by pain and bitterness - quite elders. The reason for that is because the Medrash says that Israel
to the contrary: his silence indicated his greatness, that he had is compared to a bird. Just as a bird cannot fly without wings, the
accepted G-d's decree with love. And Moshe was happy to know that Jewish people cannot exist without their elders. Elephants can exist
this was the case. without wings, cats can exist without wings, all animals can exist
I recently read about a survey conducted by the American Jewish without wings -- except a bird.
Committee. Some of the responses alarmed me, particularly when The rest of the world can exist without their elders. For the
participants were asked what shaped their Jewish identity. More Egyptians, the Romans, the French, the Americans, the Italians it is
people responded "the Holocaust" than "holiday celebrations," nice to have elders -- but it is not crucial to their very being. But the
_twice_ as many who said "Jewish study." Furthermore, more people Jewish people is not a Jewish people without their elders. Just as a
seemed to be concerned about anti-Semitism than about the issue of bird cannot exist without its wings, that which keeps Klal Yisroel
Jewish continuity. afloat is its elders.
The 27 Nissan, is Yom HaShoah, a day designated by the Israeli Therefore the curse of curses that Isaiah gave to the Jewish
government for recollection of the Holocaust. Our tradition has people before the Churban was that they will reach the stage that the
always recalled tragedies throughout our history on Tisha B'Av - the young people will be disrespectful to the elders.
Tisha B'Av prayer book includes selections on the expulsion from This said R. Chaim Shmulevitz is the terrible crime of issuing a
Spain, the Crusades, and the pogroms, and now 'kinos' have been ruling in front of one's teacher. When people issue opinions and
written about the Holocaust as well - but today Yom HaShoah is comment on every aspect of life or Halacha without consulting their
observed by more Jews than Tisha B'Av itself, or even joyous days elders, they are doing a terrible injustice to all of us. They are
like Sukkos or Shavuous! stripping us of our Gedolim. That is the crime of Moreh Halacha lifnei
This should lead us to wonder whether we have permitted Rabo, making a ruling in front of one's teacher. It is not an affront to
ourselves to be overcome by bitterness and painful communal the Rebbi per say, it is something that strikes at the heart of what the
memories. Have we accepted the truth that G-d loves us and remains Jewish people are all about.
close to us, regardless of tragic events? A failure to do so has We are a nation of tradition. "Ask your father and he will tell you;
tremendous ramifications: it should not surprise us, if the Holocaust is your elders and they will say to you" [Devorim 32:7]. Without that
the primary force shaping Jewish identity, that so many of our young tradition of consulting the elders, the Talmidei Chachomim, the older
people would as soon not be Jewish. generation, we will not exist. Therefore when a student teaches the
Please don't think that I'm dismissing the magnitude of the law in front of his teacher, he is stripping the Jewish people of
Holocaust. Having personally met many survivors, I have heard something that is essential to their whole being. For this reason,
amazing stories of pain and heroism. Yet I just saw a beautiful quote: there is no forgiving on the teacher's part of this terrible sin.
"Fighting evil is a very noble activity when it must be done. But it is And for this reason the joy at the erection of the Tabernacle had
not our mission in life. Our job is to bring in more light." to be dampened with the death of Aharon's two sons -- because this
Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner zt"l writes in a letter that the Jewish lesson had to be learnt. We are not a nation without our elders.
people are described as both "Am S'ridei Charev," a nation of SANCTIFYING G-D'S NAME THROUGH PERSEVERANCE
refugees of the sword, and also as "Am M'Dushnei Oneg," a nation This week's parsha contains the terrible incident of the death of
brimming with pleasure. We cannot allow our identity to be Nadav and Avihu. The pasuk [verse] tells us, "And the sons of
overwhelmed by either of the two. Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, each took his fire pan. They put fire in
My wife's grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Hertzberg zt"l, them and placed incense upon it, and they brought before Hashem
devoted himself to supporting and helping orphaned survivors after an alien fire that He had not commanded them." [Vayikra 10:1]
the war, many of whom still attend his old synagogue and remain Nadav and Avihu were inspired to bring an offering on the eighth
close to the family. One of them became the Tokea, the "shofar- day, the day of dedication of the Mishkan. They felt it was a great
blower", in the synagogue when Rav Hertzberg learned that he had moment in Jewish history. The Shechina [Divine Presence of G-d]
blown shofar while in Auschwitz. And today? The same survivor, now had descended. The Mishkan [Tabernacle] was complete. They
over 70, teaches a class in Talmud in the synagogue. This is Jewish wanted to offer a sacrifice, but it was a sacrifice and fire that G-d did
life. G-d remains close to us. We cannot allow painful history, not command. Their action was well intended, but it was misguided.
personal or communal, to overwhelm the tremendous _positive_ Unfortunately, Nadav and Avihu died.
nature of being Jewish, of growing as Jews. Jewish learning comes After this terrible incident, the pasuk says that Moshe consoled
before, and remains after, and must be that which shapes our lives Aharon by telling him, "This is what G-d intended when He said
as Jews. 'through those near to Me will I be sanctified and in the presence of
B). RAV FRAND: the nation I will be honored.'" [Vayikra 10:3] The Torah records that
STRIKING AT THE HEART OF WHAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE Aharon's response was silence (vaYidom Aharon).
ALL ABOUT Rash"i, quoting the Talmud [Zevachim 115b], interprets that G-d
In this week's portion we have the tragic event of the death of had previously foretold that the Mishkan would be sanctified at the
Aharon's two oldest sons. At the height of the joy of the dedication of expense of two people who are holy. Moshe had expected that this
the Tabernacle, Nadav and Avihu were consumed by a 'foreign fire' would have included either himself or his brother, Aharon. It turned
which came down from Hashem and killed them. out, however, that the real holy ones were Nadav and Avihu. That is
The Talmud tells us [Eruvin 63a] "Aharon's sons did not die until the Gemara's explanation.
they issued a halachic ruling before Moshe their teacher". There are The Rashba"m offers an alternative interpretation based on the
different interpretations among the Sages exactly what Nadav and "p'shuto shel mikra" (the simple reading of Chumash). G-d told
Avihu did to warrant this terrible punishment. One of the opinions Aharon, (through Moshe,) "I do not want you to mourn or to cry or to
expressed in the Medrash and the Talmud was this teaching that they cease from doing the Kohen Gadol's [High Priest's] Service because
issued their own ruling in front of their teacher. of the death of your sons. This is the matter that G-d intended when
A student is not allowed, by Halacha, to issue a ruling in the He said "I will be sanctified through those near to Me." In other
presence of his teacher. One who does so is deserving of the death words, the Kohen Gadol (the one near to G-d) will sanctify G-d by
penalty. This is the interpretation given to the Biblical expression continuing to perform the Service, even when he has just suffered
"they offered a foreign fire". The crime was not the offering of the the loss of a close relative. Since this is what the Halacha demands,
sacrifice per say; the crime was that they took independent action stopping the Service would be a desecration of G-d's Name.
without consulting with Moshe their teacher. Conversely, continuing the Service is a sanctification of G-d's Name.
The Gemara in Eruvin further relates that R. Eliezer had a Moshe was asking Aharon for almost super-human behavior.
student who issued a halachic ruling in R. Eliezer's presence and R. Aharon was being asked to control one of the most basic human
Eliezer announced that this student would not live out the year -- emotions -- mourning for the loss of a child. Every emotion in
which is exactly what happened. Aharon's body must have been pleading to stop and mourn the loss.
If we think about this, it is very difficult to comprehend. What is But since the Halacha requires -- from the Kohen Gadol only -- that
so terrible about ruling on a halachic question in front of one's he not stop, that is the highest form of Service. That is a tremendous
teacher? We understand that there is a matter of honoring a Rabbi Kiddush HaShem [Sanctification of G-d's Name].
(Kavod haRav) or of a Torah scholar. But that this should be a The verse concludes, "Aharon was silent". He did not mourn. He
capital offense, is difficult to comprehend. Moreover, we also know did not stop. He did what the halacha demands, in the face of this
the rule that a Rabbi has a right to "forgive his honor" (Rav great tragedy. This, says the Rashba"m, is the meaning of the simple
she'machal al k'vodo, k'vodo machul). A teacher can say "You don't interpretation of the verse, when it says, "With those who are near to
have to stand up for me". We would think that any time a student me (the High Priest), I will be sanctified" (when he does not allow his
rules in front of his teacher, the teacher should forgive. Why was R. human emotions interrupt the Divine Service).
Eliezer not more compassionate? Why did he say with certitude that When we think about this concept, we think to ourselves, "This is
this student would die within the year? something that an Aharon is capable of, but we are mere mortals
Apparently, in these situations forgiving (mechila) doesn't help. who cannot be in charge of our emotions to such an extent." The
The teacher does not have the ability to forgive. Why not? Rosh Yeshiva, zt"l, used to mention every Succos, that his teacher,
The Mir Rosh Yeshiva, zt"l, explains that the sin of issuing a the Alter from Slabodka, lost his son on the Yom Tov of Succos. As
halachic ruling in one's teacher's presence is a much more basic sin the halacha proscribes, there was no mourning on the Festival. Rav
that merely not showing this teacher the proper respect. Ruderman testified that the Alter from Slabodka continued to act as
The Talmud relates in tractate Chagiga (14a) that the though nothing had happened. When it came to that Simchas Torah,
prophet Isaiah came to the Jewish people before the 5 he danced and rejoiced like on every other year. The Alter
made Havdalah at the conclusion of Simchas Torah. After reciting the Sefer Vayyikra. Subsequent to being commanded regarding the
words "Baruch HaMavdil bein Kodesh l'chol," he fainted. various offerings to be brought in the Mishkan, God directed Mosheh
We might think, "OK, that is the Alter from Slabodka". But the as to the method of inauguration of the Kohanim into their positions
truth is that you can read any of a number of books about simple as guardians of - and officiants in - the Mishkan. (Chapter 8 - this
Jews during the holocaust. The stories are unfortunately so similar. procedure, including the first seven-day Milu'im process, is known as
Jews lost wives, husbands and children. But when it came to having Kiddush haKohanim).
to do a mitzvah, to make a Shabbos, to bench licht, to bench On the eighth day of the Milu'im, the first day of the first month
Chanukah licht, under the most terrible of circumstances -- in the (Rosh Chodesh "Nisan"), the Mishkan was set to be dedicated and
concentration camps -- there were Jews who continued and did what the Kohanim to be fully invested. Chapter 9 details the involvement of
they had to do. These were not Jews on the level of Aharon the High Mosheh, Aharon and Aharon's sons in that process. The many steps
Priest or the Alter from Slabodka. They were 'simple' Jews and taken, including a sequence of personal and communal offerings
Jewesses. We call them 'simple', but they were not 'simple'. That is brought by Aharon with the assistance of his sons, were intended to
the interpretation of "through those who are close to Me I will be enshrine the Shekhinah in the Mishkan (hence the name Mishkan).
sanctified". When people can still demonstrate their closeness to Me At the end of Chapter 9, it seems as if that goal has been met:
in the face of such adversity, they achieve the biggest Kiddush And there came a fire out from before Hashem, and consumed
HaShem. upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; which when all the
C). PARSHA PARABLES (Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky) people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
CONSOLATION REPRISE With this crescendo of excitement and spiritual ecstasy, we fully
Tragedies happen. Unfortunately, we can't control them, and we expect something akin to the great Revelation at Sinai; some more
have to learn to live with their consequences, as we try to continue intense experience of God's Presence as felt among the people. It is
our lives. Tragedy does not discriminate. It touches the lives of the at this crucial moment, as the nation is bowing, awaiting the full
wealthy and the poor, the wicked and the righteous. The Torah does "Hashra'at haSh'khinah" that we are abruptly and tragically pulled
not avoid telling us about the greatest of tragedies that happened to from the world of supernal life to immediate and shocking death:
the most righteous of men. This week it describes the tragedy that And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, took each of them his
occurred to one our greatest leaders, Ahron the Kohen Gadol (High censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered
Priest). His two children, Nadav and Avihu, were tragically consumed strange fire before Hashem, which He commanded them not.
by fire while bringing an undesignated offering to Hashem. Moshe is And there went out fire from Hashem, and devoured them, and
faced with the most difficult of challenges, consoling his bereaved they died before Hashem.
brother who just lost two of his beloved children. The challenge is What the Torah tells us is simple: Nadav and Avihu took fire-
great and the words of consolation that Moshe used should serve as pans, put fire and incense in each and offered them before God.
a precedent for all consolation for generations. What the Torah does not tell us is what is wrong with this behavior -
Moshe consoles Ahron by telling him, "This is what Hashem has and why it carries with it such an immediate and terrifying (while awe-
previously said: By those who are close to me I shall be sanctified inspiring) death. In order to understand this, we need to see how the
and thus I will be honored by the entire congregation" (Leviticus narrative unfolds; perhaps the context will be edifying and
10:3). Powerful words. Deep and mystical. We are in this world by enlightening.
G-d's command, and our mission is to maintain and promote His II CONSOLATION
glory. Those are words that may not console simple folk, but they We are not sure about the first reaction of Aharon, the man
were enough for Ahron who after hearing the words went from whose greatest day had finally arrived as he began service as the
weeping to silence. But Moshe did not just quote the Torah, he Kohen of Hashem; did he weep? did he continue his worship? This is
prefaced his remarks: "This is what Hashem has previously said." unclear from the textŠbut we do know Mosheh's first words to
Only after that premise does he continue with the words of Aharon, the stricken father:
consolation. Why was it necessary to preface those powerful words Then Mosheh said to Aharon, This is what Hashem spoke,
by saying that they were once stated? After all, the entire Torah was saying, I will be sanctified in them that come near to Me, and
once stated. Could Moshe not just as easily have stated, "My dear before all the people I will be glorified. And Aharon held his
brother Ahron. Hashem is glorified by judgment of his dear ones." peace.
It seems that the familiarity of the statements was part and parcel What are we to make of these words of Mosheh? First of all,
of its consoling theme. Why? when did God ever state biK'rovai Ekadesh ("I will be sanctified in
The sudden death of Reb Yosef could not have come at a more them that come near to Me" - this translation is as poor as any other
untimely time - a few days before Passover. A Holocaust survivor, he available one)?
had rebuilt his life in Canada and left this world a successful In addition, we might ask what Mosheh's motivation was in
businessman, with a wonderful wife, children, and grandchildren. It uttering these words: Is he comforting Aharon? Is he, perhaps,
was difficult, however, for them all to leave their families for the first chastising him?
days of Passover to accompany his body, and thus his widow Furthermore, the import of Mosheh's words is not at all clear
traveled with her son to bury her husband in Israel. After the funeral (hence the problem with the translation). Does he mean that God's
the two mourners sat in their apartment in the Shaarei Chesed Presence can only become "enshrined" by the death of one of His
section of Jerusalem. Passover was fast approaching, and they were chosen? Perhaps he means to say that God being exacting with His
planning to spend the Seder at the home of relatives. As they were chosen ones is a method of generating a Kiddush Hashem; it is
about to end the brief Shiva period and leave their apartment, a soft certainly not clear what these words mean.
knocked interrupted their thoughts. At the door to her apartment It is plausible that the answers to these questions are mutually
stood none other than one of Israel's most revered Torah sages, dependent - if we understand Mosheh's words as being motivated by
Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach. a desire to comfort his brother, it is possible that he is "interpreting"
"I live nearby," he said, "and I heard that there was a funeral previously stated words of God and applying them to this situation -
today. I came to offer my condolences." and thereby enhancing the stature of Nadav and Avihu in their
The sage then heard a brief history of Reb Yosef's difficult, yet father's tear-filled eyes. If, on the other hand, Mosheh is
remarkably triumphant life. "paraphrasing" an actual command of God (e.g. such as the
Then Reb Shlomo Zalman turned to the widow and asked a very boundaries established at Sinai - see Sh'mot 19:23), these words
strange question. "Did you say the blessing Boruch Dayan HaEmes? may be less "soothing" in tone and may mean that God became
Blessed are You, Hashem, the true Judge." (This blessing sanctified by virtue of the death of those who tried to come close.
acknowledges the acceptance of Hashem as the Master Planner of Again, an easy resolution to these words is not on our horizon - but
all events acknowledging that all that happens is for the best.) "Why? we must attempt to decipher them to the best of our abilities.
Yes," answered the elderly lady. "I said it right as the funeral ended. Finally, how are we to understand Aharon's silence? Again, there
But it is very difficult to understand and accept." are several parts to this question: First of all, was he suddenly silent
Reb Shlomo Zalman, a man who lived through dire poverty and (in reaction to Mosheh's words), did he remain silent (in spite of
illness, four wars, and the murder of a relative by Arab terrorists, Mosheh's words), or did this silence precede Mosheh's words?
nodded. "I understand your questions. That blessing is very difficult to Is Aharon's silence an act of nobility? Does it demonstrate an
understand and to accept. You must, however, say it again and overpowering sense of place and time, not allowing the tragedy to
again. As difficult as it may be, believe me, if you repeat it enough mar the celebration of the day? Or, conversely, does it indicate an
you will understand it." inability to answer - a silence in the face of death? Was there
Moshe understood that as difficult as it may be, the words he anything that Aharon could have said at all?
used to console Ahron were the precise ones that encompassed the III DELEGATION
essence of the meaning of life and death. They would be understood Subsequent to his short speech to Aharon, Mosheh turns to his
by Ahron. But he had to preface it by saying that this not a new form nephews, commanding them to remove the corpses from the
of condolence. It has been said before. It was already taught. Now it Mishkan:
must repeated. And Mosheh called Misha'el and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the
Difficult questions have no simple answers, but it is the faith of uncle of Aharon, and said to them, Come near, carry your
generations that must be constantly repeated and repeated. There brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp. So they went
are no new condolences; there are no fast answers. The only near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Mosheh
answers we can give are those that have been said for generations. had said.
Perhaps that is why we console our loved ones today with the same In other words, neither Aharon nor his two "remaining" sons are
consolation that has been said for centuries. "May you be comforted to become defiled by participating in what is normally their familial
among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." And it shall be repeated obligation (at least as regards the brothers): burying their own.
- again and again -- until there is no more mourning. Good Shabbos Is this delegation of responsibility a response to Aharon's
)1998 Rabbi Mordecai Kamenetzky silence? Where are Elazar and Itamar (the two "remaining" brothers)
D). P’SHUTO SHEL MIKRA (Rabbi Yitz Etshalom) at this time? We soon hear:
THE ANONYMOUS SONS OF AHARON: AN ANALYSIS OF And Mosheh said to Aharon, and to Elazar and to Itamar, his
VAYYIKRA 10 sons, Uncover not your heads, nor tear your clothes; lest you die,
and lest anger come upon all the people; but let your brothers,
I TRAGEDY the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Hashem has
Our Parasha contains one of the two narratives which break up
the flow of legalistic/covenantal material which comprises kindled. And you shall not go out from the door of the Tent of
6 Meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of Hashem is
upon you. And they did according to the word of Mosheh. make of his explanation?
We now see that Aharon, Elazar and Itamar are standing by, VII RESPONSE
watching as their sons/brothers are carried out of the Mishkan - and We again find a unique interaction here. Instead of admitting to
they are not allowed to demonstrate their grief in the traditional fault, Aharon speaks up (in spite of the fact that Mosheh had
manners. That is not to say that their brothers' deaths will go without addressed his sons), defending their action - and Mosheh accepts
the proper Avelut. Their Avelut belongs to the entire "House of their defense:
Yisra'el" - but what does that mean? Does it mean that all of B'nei And Aharon said to Mosheh, Behold, this day have they offered
Yisra'el are to behave as mourners for the entire week (at least) after their sin offering and their burnt offering before Hashem; and
this tragedy? That would seem to be self-defeating, if the reason for such things have befallen me; and if I had eaten the sin offering
all of this delegation is to maintain the festive air of the day. to day, should it have been accepted in the sight of Hashem?
In addition, why are the B'nei Yisra'el appointed/delegated as And when Mosheh heard that, he was content.
mourners for Nadav and Avihu? What sort of relationship exists Why didn't Aharon give this response earlier, when Mosheh had
between the mourners ( *Kol Beit Yisra'el* ) and the two deceased commanded him and his sons to partake of the Minchah and the
sons of Aharon? Shok haT'rumah and Hazeh haT'nufah? In addition, how could this
One final question on this series of verses: Why does the text argument have succeeded, if Mosheh had already commanded them
point out that they did "according to the words of Mosheh" - if the to continue "as if nothing had happened" and to allow the rest of the
intent was simply to indicate that they fulfilled these commands, the B'nei Yisra'el to mourn for Nadav and Avihu? Either Aharon and his
text could have tersely stated: Vaya'asu Khen - ("and they did thus"); sons had the status of Onenim (mourners) or not - and, since
what is added with this longer formula? Mosheh had already excepted them from that status, how could this
IV COMMAND argument succeed?
Within the realm of legalistic text in the Torah, the most popular VIII SUMMARY
and familiar introductory phrase is: vay'Daber Hashem el Mosheh In reading through Vayyikra Chapter 10, we have noted a
leimor - ("and Hashem spoke to Mosheh, sayingŠ"). Occasionally, we significant number of difficulties. Here is a summary of the main
encounter an expansion which includes Aharon (e.g. Sh'mot 12:1),. questions, although some of them have ancillary inquiries which were
The formula presented in the middle of our narrative - and which raised above:
"interrupts" the flow of the story - is unique: vay'Daber Hashem el 1) Did Nadav and Avihu err? If so, what was the nature of their
Aharon leimor ("and Hashem spoke to Aharon, sayingŠ"). This error/sin?
hapax legomenon is striking for several reasons. It stands in stark 2) How do we understand Mosheh's words to Aharon - and
contrast to Aharon's silence, mentioned earlier. In addition, it is the Aharon's silence?
first time that we hear about the "second" role of the Kohen - as 3) Why are Aharon's remaining sons not considered mourners -
teacher and instructor of the laws of Hashem. The specific directive such that the burial of their brothers is delegated to their cousins?
prohibits worship by Aharon or his sons (what a painful word that is at What is the role of Kol Beit Yisra'el here - are they all mourners in
this juncture) while intoxicated: the strict and complete sense of the word?
And Hashem spoke to Aharon, saying, Do not drink wine nor 4) How should we understand the interjection of the command
strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the regarding entering the Mishkan while intoxicated - and that given
Tent of Meeting, lest you die; it shall be a statute forever directly to Aharon?
throughout your generations; And that you may differentiate 5) Why does Mosheh have to remind his kin about their
between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And obligations regarding the consumption of the offerings?
that you may teach the people of Yisra'el all the statutes which 6) Why does Mosheh present an argument to Elazar and Itamar
Hashem has spoken to them by the hand of Mosheh. as to why they shouldn't have burnt the S'ir Rosh Chodesh?
Why is this particular prohibition (and its extension - instructing in 7) How do we understand their successful defense - and why
Halakhah while intoxicated - see MT Bi'at Mikdash 1:3 and our wasn't it stated earlier?
discussion in last year's shiur on Parashat Sh'mini, accessible on our Under ideal circumstances, we would present a survey of the
website at torah.org/advanced/mikra) presented here, amid the many brilliant and insightful approaches suggested by the Rishonim
dedication festivities and attendant tragedy? Why is Aharon singled (they were all sensitive to these difficulties with the text, of course).
out to receive only this command (all other commands regarding the Due to space limitations, we will have to confine ourselves to using
special status of Kohanim were given through the familiar formula)? several of their observations as points of departure for a different
V EXCEPTION approach; one which is, I believe, consistent with and reflective of
After Aharon is given this "new" prohibition, Mosheh turns to his some of the perspectives raised by the Rishonim in their analyses of
brother and nephews, directing them to continue in their worship-acts this difficult chapter.
associated with the offerings already brought: IX KEDUSHAT KEHUNAH
And Mosheh spoke to Aharon, and to Elazar and to Itamar, his Any analysis of this chapter has to begin with the offering brought
sons, who were left, Take the meal offering that remains of the by Nadav and Avihu. What did they do to merit instantaneous death
offerings of Hashem made by fire, and eat it without leaven at the hands of Heaven?
beside the altar; for it is most holy; And you shall eat it in the holy A scan of the two previous chapters - Chapter 8, which details
place, because it is your due, and your sons' due, of the the inauguration ritual (*Milu'im*) and Chapter 9 which describes the
sacrifices of Hashem made by fire; for so I am commanded. And events of that day of dedication, we see that the role of Aharon's sons
the waved breast and offered shoulder shall you eat in a clean is purely supportive in nature. Not once do we hear their names.
place; you, and your sons, and your daughters with you; for they They function solely as B'nei Aharon (Aharon's sons) throughout the
are your due, and your sons' due, which are given from the entire narrative. Until this point, we read "Take Aharon and his sons
sacrifices of peace offerings by the people of Yisra'el. The offered with himŠ"; only after several verses devoted to the inauguration of
shoulder and the waved breast shall they bring with the offerings Aharon do we hear: "And Mosheh brought the sons of AharonŠ";
made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before throughout the rest of the Milu'im ceremony, we only hear about
Hashem; and it shall be yours, and your sons' with you, by a Aharon, "his sons" or "Aharon and his sons".
statute forever; as Hashem has commanded. On the day of dedication, we read "And the sons of Aaron
Why does this directive need to be stated (or, perhaps, repeated) brought the blood to himŠand the sons of Aharon presented to him
at this point? Don't Aharon and his sons already know the laws of the the bloodŠ and they presented the burnt offering to himŠ and the
Kohanic consumption of the offerings (see Vayyikra 6:9)? sons of Aharon presented to him the bloodŠ". Throughout the
The simplest explanation of this interjection is that Aharon and ceremony, designed to inaugurate Aharon and his sons into their
his sons, being in a Halakhic state of mourning (*Aninut*) would have positions as Kohanim, his sons present Aharon with the various items
reasonably avoided partaking of any of the sacral foods (see BT he needs in order to perform the service - but it is clearly his service
Zevahim 101a for the source for this prohibition/disqualification). to perform.
Hence, Mosheh must instruct them that that is not to be the case on Just before we read about Nadav and Avihu's errant offering, we
this day. In spite of the death of their sons/brothers, Aharon and his are told that:
two "remaining" sons are to continue the complete Avodah without And there came a fire out from before Hashem, and consumed
interruption or deviation; this day of inauguration serves as an upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat; which when all the
exception to the rule of the disqualification of Aninut. people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
If that is the sole reason for this exhortative directive, why does The ultimate was achieved; God's heavenly fire consumed the
Mosheh add the information about the "wave offering" (*Shok offering, indicating His acceptance and readiness to enshrine the
haT'rumah v'Hazeh haT'nufah*)? Why add the information regarding Shekhinah among the people.
the family's rights to the portions of the Sh'lamim (peace-offerings)? Suddenly, we do not hear about the "anonymous" sons of
VI INQUIRY Aharon; rather, we are introduced to Nadav and Avihu who are the
Having commanded his brother and nephews regarding the (two of) the same B'nei Aharon who demonstrated a strong
completion of the "order of the day", Mosheh finds that they have awareness of their position until this point:
burned the S'ir haHatat (goat of the sin offering), which the Gemara And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, took each of them his
identifies as the S'ir Rosh Chodesh (sin-offering brought on the first censer, and put fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered
day of the month as part of the Musaf Rosh Chodesh) - instead of strange fire before Hashem, which He commanded them not.
eating it: And there went out fire from Hashem, and devoured them, and
And Mosheh diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, they died before Hashem.
behold, it was burned; and he was angry with Elazar and Itamar, The emphasis on "each his own fire-pan" indicates that this
the sons of Aharon, who were left alive, saying, Why have you offering was not only bereft of the communal aspect which informed
not eaten the sin offering in the holy place, seeing it is most holy, all of the offerings until this point - it was also a totally individualized
and God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the and self-centered offering. Note the words of the Sifra at the
congregation, to make atonement for them before Hashem? beginning of Parashat Aharei-Mot:
Behold, its blood was not brought inside the holy place; you B'nei Aharon - implying that they did not take counsel with
should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded. Aharon; Nadav va'Avihu - implying that they did not take counsel from
Why does Mosheh engage in the presentation of an argument as Mosheh [see BT Eruvin 63a]; Ish Mah'tato (each his own fire-pan) -
to why they should have eaten it? Isn't it enough for him to remind implying that they did not take counsel from each other. (see also
them - as he does at the end of his "angry" chastisement - that they Vayyikra Rabbah 20:8)
should have eaten it "as I commanded"? What are we to 7 The Torah uses two additional (and more explicit) terms to
indicate their sin: strange fire and which He commanded them not. celebration of dedication and ongoing worship - but proper analysis of
Essentially, their sin was in considering that once they had been that topic is beyond the scope of this shiur.
designated, inaugurated and sanctified, they had the latitude to
present worship in their own manner - subverting their own roles as
assistants to their father. Far beyond this sin, however, was the 7 - HAR ETZION (Virtual Beit HaMidrash)
Virtual Beit Midrash, Alon Shevut, Gush Etzion 90433 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org,
underlying perspective which motivated their behavior: We can Home Page: http://www.virtual.co.il/education/yhe
dictate how to worship. When we approach God, we may do so on
our own terms and with our own offering. The Midrash's reading of A) INTRODUCTION TO PARSHAT HASHEVUAH
their refusal to take counsel with Mosheh and Aharon before bringing by Rav Jonathan Mishkin
their offering is indicative of this errant perspective. SOUND OF SILENCE
What Nadav and Avihu evidently failed to understand was the Leviticus chapter 10 witnesses the sudden wrath of God as two
metamorphosis which was effected through the Milu'im process. of Aaron's sons, Moses' nephews, are struck down in mid-service.
Whereas, until now, Nadav and Avihu were two individuals, sons of "Now Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu each took his fire pan, put
Aharon and nephews of Mosheh; now they were accorded the lofty - fire in it, which He had not enjoined upon them. And fire came
but limiting - status of B'nei Aharon. Pursuant to their sanctification, forth from the Lord and consumed them; thus they died before
Aharon and his sons became the representatives of the entire nation the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the Lord
- this great privilege carried with it the awesome responsibility of meant when He said: Through those near to Me I show Myself
maintaining constant humility in the face of the Mishkan where that holy, and gain glory before all the people.' And Aaron was silent."
representation is realized. (Leviticus 10:1-3)
X RESPONSES This tragedy occurred on the eighth day of the investiture
We can now review our questions and answer each, following the ceremonies which consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests
explanation presented in the previous section: following the establishment of the Tabernacle. Because the text
1) Did Nadav and Avihu err? If so, what was the nature of their is somewhat vague, commentaries through the ages have debated
error/sin? They certainly sinned - in taking worship into their own the nature of Nadab and Abihu's sin which resulted in swift and
hands. They not only overstepped their role as B'nei Aharon, they unexpected punishment. What seems to have happened is that
also, thereby, violated the trust of the B'nei Yisra'el. the priests acted on their own initiative regarding some detail of the
2) How do we understand Mosheh's words to Aharon - and Aharon's service. In a system containing an untold number of
silence? Mosheh told Aharon biK'rovai Ekadesh - meaning that I am specifications surrounding the preparations and executions of
only sanctified through the actions of those who I have brought close. sacrifices and other offerings, one misstep is apparently
In other words, Mosheh was telling Aharon that Nadav and Avihu intolerable. What has always fascinated readers of this story is its
erred in thinking that because they had been sanctified as B'nei final two Hebrew words - VA-YIDOM AHARON - and Aaron was
Aharon, that they were now fit to effect the sanctification of the silent.
Mishkan on their own. Who can sanctify God? Who can bring His Having just witnessed the execution of his sons followed by
Shekhinah into the presence of the people? Only someone selected some sort of rebuke by his brother, Aaron does not cry out in
by God Himself. Aharon's silence is easily understood - what could anguish, complain at the injustice of punishment without warning, or
he say? He certainly couldn't disagree, claiming that Nadav and justify his sons' mistake. He is silent. The man chosen by God to
Avihu had been sufficiently close to God. On the other hand, serve as Moses' spokesman in their confrontations with Pharaoh
agreeing to that statement implied that he, Aharon, is sufficiently and who has repeatedly witnessed first hand the awesome power of
close. Humility prevented him from answering - so he was silent. God is at this moment dumbstruck. Two questions about the two
3) Why are Aharon's remaining sons not considered mourners - such words VA-YIDOM AHARON arise. Firstly, why indeed does Aaron
that the burial of their brothers is delegated to their cousins? What is not speak? Was human reaction to devastation inappropriate?
the role of Kol Beit Yisra'el here - are they all mourners in the strict Do we not find other Biblical characters in dialogue with God giving
and complete sense of the word? This is the lesson of the entire expression to their emotions?
chapter: B'nei Aharon do not "belong to themselves". They are both Secondly, why does the Torah tell us that he is silent? Surely
Sh'luchei Didan (our agents) as well as Sh'luchei d'Rach'mana Aaron must have cried at some point, commiserated with his wife,
(agents of God - see BT Kiddushin 23b) - with all of the privileges and instructed his remaining sons to be more careful from now on. But
responsibilities thereof. Although the Rishonim are divided as to the Torah, famously characterized as a document conservative with
whether Elazar and Itamar would have been obligated to bury their language, omits all further discussion the family has on the
brothers if it were not for this special occasion, what is clear is that, at matter. Why tell us here that Aaron had nothing to say? Mere
the very least, as the Mishkan is being dedicated, the Kohanim are absence of any recorded reaction would tell us either that Aaron
getting the clear message that their role as communal did not speak or that any utterance of his did not merit inclusion in
representatives overrides their full participation in family life. The the Torah. What lesson do we learn from Aaron's immediate silence?
"upside" of that is that their family is much larger - all of B'nei Yisra'el Rabbi Yitzchak Abrabanel writing in the 15th century portrays
are considered their family, such that the mourning for their brothers Aaron's reaction as total shock: "His heart turned to stone and
will be shared among the entire nation. became still (DOMEM) and he did not raise his voice to wail or
4) How should we understand the interjection of the command mourn in pain for his sons. Nor did he accept Moses' comfort for he
regarding entering the Mishkan while intoxicated - and that given had no soul left and his speech was gone." But since this seems
directly to Aharon? Mosheh has just explained the death of Nadav like a normal reaction to what Aaron had just witnessed, isn't telling
and Avihu to Aharon - they miscalculated, thinking that anyone who is us about it unnecessary?
part of the designated family may sanctify. Mosheh's response - that Many commentators see Aaron's silence as a noble acceptance
only one whom God brings close may sanctify - could still leave of Divine judgement. Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, for example, writes
Aharon wondering: "How do I know - or anyone else, for that matter - that Aaron was silent and received a fine reward for holding his
that I am sufficiently close to God? Perhaps my role in the sin of the tongue. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomon ben Yitzchak, 11th century) accepts
golden calf has marred that closeness, if it ever existed?" To assuage this praise of Aaron and identifies his particular reward - the priest
that concern, God gave Aharon the greatest sign of closeness - by merited divine word being addressed to him alone (verses 8-11).
speaking directly to him (and only him). God "focusing" His command This approach certainly explains the Torah's desire to tell us
to Aharon is a sure sign of Aharon being worthy to sanctify the about Aaron's silence. The Midrash (Sifra) at one point likens
Mishkan. As far as the command itself, we may posit as follows: The Aaron's silence to Abraham's complete acceptance of the command
sin of Nadav and Avihu was taking matters into their own hands to sacrifice his son. But once we start making comparisons we see
(figuratively as well as literally). The zealousness which accompanies that there are plenty of instances in the Bible where God's
celebration and can, if unchecked, lead to such errant and dangerous decisions and judgments are challenged by man. These human
behavior, is most easily exemplified by intoxication. A person is so pleas to God are sometimes accepted and sometimes rejected, but
carried away with the ecstasy of the nearness to God that he desires rarely is man rebuked for presuming to question God. Certainly the
to break down all boundaries - including those which are necessary entire institution of prayer is based on the notion that man has a
to maintain an environment of Kedushah. The additional role of right (perhaps even an obligation) to complain to God when unhappy
Kohanim mentioned at the end of this command serves to strengthen with his lot.
the message of the chapter - that Kohanim's role is not only The starting point for this level of interaction between God and
representative but also instructive and, as such, have a great man is Abraham himself who challenges God's plan to destroy
responsibility towards B'nei Yisra'el. Sodom with apparently little attention to the righteous who might
5) Why does Mosheh have to remind his kin about their obligations be living there. Says he, "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to
regarding the consumption of the offerings? Again, the basic bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent
message - these gifts are given to you not by dint of who you are - and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all
but rather because God has chosen you to represent His people in the earth deal justly?" (Genesis 18:25) In an ironic reversal, the
the Mishkan. These gifts are given to God - who grants them to the Rabbis fault Noah for not complaining to God when the plan to
family of Aharon miShulhan Gavohah. destroy the world in a flood is revealed to him.
6) Why does Mosheh present an argument to Elazar and Itamar as to The entire book of Job is one long challenge to God's sense of
why they shouldn't have burnt the S'ir Rosh Chodesh? Mosheh is justice. Job feels abused, mistreated, and punished for no reason. He
explaining their role to the sons of Aharon - it is your job to complete demands that God give him some sort of explanation for the way
this service in order to repair the relationship between God and the he's been treated. When God does appear to Job near the end of
people. You must rise above your personal tragedy in order to act for the book, He doesn't snap "How dare you question My actions!"
the people. True, God doesn't at that moment explain Himself - arguing
7) How do we understand their successful defense - and why wasn't instead that He doesn't have to - but He accepts Job's right to
it stated earlier? express himself.
As mentioned above, the Gemara identifies this offering as the Moses of course spends a good part of his career pleading to
Musaf Rosh Chodesh; unlike the other offerings (which Mosheh had God on behalf of the nation of Israel. In the first such episode, the
addressed earlier), this was an ongoing offering, to be brought every Golden Calf, we get a hint that perhaps God will not in fact entertain
month. Whereas the suspension of personal grief for the celebration any entreaties whatsoever.
of dedication would be in accord with Mosheh's command, this "The Lord said further to Moses, 'I see that this is a stiff-necked
offering is of a different nature. Aharon's successful defense of his people. Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against
sons' behavior demonstrates the difference between the them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a
great nation.' But Moses implored the Lord his God, saying, Chapter 9 of Sefer Vayikra describes the first sacrifices offered
'Let not Your anger, O Lord, blaze forth against Your people in the mishkan. It is quite clear that this was an inaugural ceremony,
whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power with special sacrifices being brought both by Aharon (who had spent
and with a mighty hand.'" (Exodus 32:9-11) seven days getting ready for this role) and by the Jewish People.
In this exchange not only does Moses seem to ignore God's This is made evident from the conclusion of the chapter - "And fire
demand to refrain from begging for the nation, but he even came forth from before God, and consumed the burnt-offering and
manages to get God to recall his decree of destruction against the fats on the altar, and all the people saw and cheered, and fell
the nation! on their faces" (9:24).
Aaron is involved in several other incidents where he does Of course, we all remember that the inauguration of the mishkan
speak up. His participation in the creation of the Golden Calf appears to have been described at the end of Sefer Shemot,
astounds Moses who asks "What did this people do to you that you without any particular ceremony at all. After describing how Moshe
have brought such great sin upon them?" In what seems like a constructed the mishkan, on the first day of the first month,
justification, Aaron answers: Parashat Pekudei concludes with the words, "The cloud covered the
"Let not my lord be enraged. You know that this people is bent Tent of Meeting, and the glory of God filled the mishkan" (Shemot
on evil. They said to me 'Make us a god to lead us; for that man 40:34).
Moses, who brought us from the land of Egypt- we do not The exact temporal relationship between these two descriptions
know what has happened to him.' So I said to them, 'Whoever is disputed by the commentators, with Rashi arguing that they are, in
has gold take it off!' They gave it to me and I hurled it into the fact, contemporaneous, and the Ramban contending that our
fire and out came this calf!" (Exodus 32:21-24) parasha occurred immediately after what is described in Pekudei.
When confronted with leading the people to the sin of idolatry, But even the Ramban agrees that the conclusion of Pekudei, quoted
Aaron is not short of words - he explains his own actions and above, is no more than a general description which is described
describes the despair that led to the nation's failure. Why does he more fully in our parasha. While the Ramban's approach alleviates
not similarly explain to Moses and the onlooking nation that his the difficulty in having two distinct descriptions of the same days,
sons Nadab and Abihu were merely trying to serve God with zeal? the question remains: What is the significance of the Torah's
Somewhat later, in Numbers chapter 12, Aaron in fact takes the distinction between the construction of the mishkan and the
lead over his brother in defending their sister Miriam. In another preparations of Aharon and his sons to serve in it, a distinction
case where the nature of a sin is obscure, Miriam is punished for emphasized by placing the two descriptions in two different
her (and Aaron's) speech against Moses. When she is struck with books? If the story had been continuous, as the Ramban contends,
some form of skin affliction it is Aaron who prods Moses into then why not continue Sefer Shemot until the end of chapter 9 of
pleading to God on her behalf: "And Aaron turned to Moses, 'O Sefer Vayikra, without the need for the concluding - and misleading -
my lord, account not to us the sin which we committed in our folly. verse at the end of Pekudei?
Let her not be as one dead, who emerges from his mother's womb There is an important difference between the appearance of
with half his flesh eaten away.' So Moses cried out to the Lord, God's glory on the mishkan at the end of Shemot, and that which is
saying, 'O God, pray heal her!'" described in our parasha. In Shemot, the Torah tells us that Moshe
There is another contrast in behavior between the two brothers put the mishkan together, and then, without any further ado, God's
that might be telling, but which I cannot explain. Both Moses and glory filled the mishkan. In our parasha, even after we substitute
Aaron are punished for the incident at Mei Meriva (Numbers 20) the preparations of the priests in place of the construction of the
with God decreeing that they shall not enter the Promised Land. mishkan, we still do not find that God appears immediately after
The Torah records a prayer that Moses offers to God towards the preparations are finished (which was described in the previous
reversing that decision (Deuteronomy 3:23-28) which is rejected. parasha). Rather, when speaking to the congregated People of
Aaron, however, is never quoted as asking for a second chance. Israel, Moshe says, "THIS is that which God has commanded you to
Why does only Moses take the chance on persuading God to do, and God's glory shall appear to you" (9:6). What's more, in a
reconsider? subtle hesitation, even after the sacrifices are properly brought,
At thpoint readers might argue that in contrast to the characters there is no response from God. Aharon finishes the entire
and incidents we've been discussing, Aaron's silence in our procedure and descends from the altar - and yet receives no
parasha was not necessarily a humble and blind acceptance of response (9:22). Only after Moshe and Aharon enter the tent and
God's will, but a recognition that it was too late to speak up. His then emerge and bless the people a second time, does it say, "And
sons lay dead in their tracks and there was no purpose in pleading the glory of God appeared to all the people" (9:23), followed by the
on their behalf. Unlike Moses, at the Calf, for example, who had an verse I quoted at the beginning, "And fire came forth from before
opportunity to change God's plan before it was executed, any God, and consumed the burnt-offering and the fats on the altar, and
argument from Aaron at this point would constitute, in the words of all the people saw and cheered, and fell on their faces" (9:24). In
the mishna, a TEFILAT SHAV - a futile prayer (Berakhot 9:3). If so, Shemot, all that is needed for the Presence of God is the tabernacle,
why do Rashi and the other commentators praise Aaron? Is he a home for the Presence. In Vayikra, a "welcoming ceremony" is a
being credited for not shaking an angry fist at the heavens prerequisite. What does this signify and what lies behind this
shouting "how could you do this to me?" Could we even imagine difference?
such a reaction possible from the high priest? B. Aharon and Moshe
Perhaps Aaron did not cry at the death of his sons because he If we examine closely the relationship between the sacrifices
understood that to do so would be a repeat of the sin which claimed brought on this day and the descent of the glory of God onto the
their lives. Immediately after the removal of Nadab and Abihu's mishkan, we find a note of ambiguity. But first, let me list all
bodies, Moses gives the following instructions: the textual difficulties in this parasha.
"And Moses said to Aaron and to his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, 1. (9:1) Moshe, on the eighth day, calls "Aharon, his sons, AND
'Do not dishevel your hair and do not rend your clothes, lest you THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL." What was the purpose of calling
die and anger strike the whole community. But your kinsmen, the elders? (See Rashi.)
all the house of Israel, shall bewail the burning that the Lord 2. (9:3) "And you (singular) shall say to the People of Israel: Bring
has wrought. And so do not go outside the entrance of the a goat...." Why does Moshe TELL AHARON to tell the Jews
Tent of Meeting, lest you die, for the Lord's anointing oil is upon what to do? (See Ramban, who claims that, despite the
you.' And they did as Moses had bidden." (verses 6-7) singular verb, it was the elders who were commanded to tell
Because Aaron was in the midst of the sin-offering service, the Jews what to bring, which answers both questions to some
with anointing oil still on his head from his consecration, he could extent.)
not crumble in his own sorrow thereby risking tainting the 3. (9:6) "Moshe said, This is what God has commanded to be
proceedings with an inappropriate emotion. done, and the glory of God shall appear to you." This verse
Rashbam (Rabbi Shmuel ben Meir 12th century) interprets is not followed by any instruction whatsoever. For lack of
Moses' speech of verse 3 along these lines: an alternative, it must refer to the previous instructions (9:3-
"And Moses said to Aaron: Do not mourn nor weep nor cease 5), where the Jews were commanded to bring sacrifices.
your service. Heed what I am telling you; this is what the Lord Why, then, was this verse separated from the instructions by
meant when He said 'Through those near to Me I show Myself the statement that they indeed fulfilled the commands
holy' - I will become holy through the high priests who are close (9:5), especially since the content of this verse seems to be no
to Me and who serve Me, My service shall not become profane more than a repetition of the conclusion of verse 4 ("... For
nor shall My name. For this is what the Lord has today God shall appear to you")?
commanded - the high priest and his [sons] shall not dishevel The most noticeable difference between the two parshiot we
their hair nor rend their garments... do not lay aside your tasks." are comparing is the main character. The construction of the
At the moment of his sons' deaths, Aaron, in full priestly dress, mishkan at the end of Sefer Shemot is totally Moshe's
was serving God and was thus immersed in a public display of the accomplishment. The entire Parashat Pekudei is characterized by
sanctification of His name. With all of Israel watching him, he might the repeated emphasis on Moshe's centrality. Here, the process
have shattered that moment, turning it into a desecration of God's is centered on Aharon. This is clearly indicated by our second
service. One mumbled word, a single shed tear would demonstrate question - even the command to the Jewish people to bring
that his own emotions had overridden the desire to fulfill God's sacrifices is entrusted to Aharon, rather than being performed
will. The service being described here marked the culmination of directly by Moshe. What is more, Aharon brings personal sacrifices
the initiation program of the Tabernacle and the sacrificial system; on this day (in a manner reminiscent of the Yom Kippur service in
certainly the opening ceremonies of a system to be performed Parashat Emor - which was the subject of last year's shiur on
precisely according to God's instructions had to be flawless. Aaron Parashat Shemini).
saw that his sons had allowed themselves to get carried away in I would like to suggest that this difference is a key to
their service of God, and with a slight error in judgement had understanding the two roles of the mishkan which are distinguished
imposed their own ideas into the service. Aaron's silence by these two parshiot. What does Moshe do in the mishkan and
demonstrated that a painful lesson had been learned by all present, what does Aharon do there? The answer is clear - Moshe meets
but that pain would have to wait until the service's end to be with God, and Aharon conducts the divine service, the bringing
expressed. of the sacrifices. These are the two purposes of the mishkan: a) the
B) INDEPTH PARSHAT SHEVUAH place where the sacrifices to God are offered; b) a place where
by Rav Ezra Bick man meets God. (See Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, "Be-inyan
A. Two Completions of the Mishkan 9 Beit Ha-bechira", in his Kovetz Chiddushei Torah, pp.135-141,
where the Rav zt"l explains that there are two different mitzvot in will appear to you. It is precisely the "hanging" nature of this verse,
the Torah concerning these two aspects of Mikdash.) which refers to what has already been done rather than serving as
This is clearly indicated by the verses concluding the two an introduction to what comes after, that makes it clear that Moshe
parshiot. wishes to stress to the people that it should not be taken for
1. Sefer Shemot: granted that the mishkan will be successful in attaining the goal they
"The cloud covered the TENT OF MEETING ('Ohel Moed'), and have been yearning for. I believe that this is the source for the
the glory of God filled the mishkan. And Moshe could not enter anxiety perceived by the Sages as running throughout this parasha.
the TENT OF MEETING, for the cloud settled on it, and the The people are on edge, and Moshe tells them - just do the
glory of God filled the mishkan." (Shemot 40:34-5) following, and we shall finally succeed.
The symbol of the presence of God on the Tent of Meeting is And yet, as I mentioned earlier, there is a note of ambiguity about
the cloud - concerning which we have already read in Parashat Ki the relationship between these sacrifices and the acceptance and
Tisa: "When Moshe would enter the tent, the pillar of cloud would appearance of God. Just two verses earlier, Moshe tells Aharon to
descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and [God would] tell the Jews to bring these sacrifices, "for today God will appear
SPEAK WITH MOSHE" (Shemot 33:9). to you" (9:4). Here, the opposite appears to be true. Moshe says,
2. Parashat Shemini: "Today God will appear, so you should bring some sacrifices."
"And fire came forth from before God, and consumed the The sacrifices are not the CAUSE of the appearance of God, but a
burnt-offering and the fats on the altar, and all the people saw proper reaction to it. How can both these relationships be true? Why
and cheered, and fell on their faces." (9:24) does Moshe tell the Jews (through Aharon) to bring the sacrifices
The symbol of the presence of God here - on the altar - is the BECAUSE God is going to appear today, and then, after they have
fire which consumes the sacrifices. In both cases it says that the made their preparations, tell them that God will appear today,
glory of God appeared to the people, but these are two different BECAUSE they will offer the sacrifices?
manifestations of the glory of God: one, a cloud into which Moshe The answer, I believe, is simple. The Torah is teaching us
can enter, symbolizing privacy and intimacy, and one a consuming that the actions of man needed to ensure acceptance of his
fire from God, which symbolizes acceptance. sacrifices by God and the appearance of the presence of God are
C. Shemot and Vayikra not magical, not some esoteric mumbo-jumbo or arcane mystical
We now understand the separation of the two parshiot. ritual known only to the priestly class. The way to ensure that our
Before the mishkan can become the sanctuary of sacrifices, we service of God be acceptable is to serve Him properly. True
must first learn of the consecration of Aharon, which took up the sacrifices ensure that God will find them acceptable. Hence Moshe
second part of the previous parasha (Tzav and also the basic sends the Jews to prepare sacrifices BECAUSE God is coming.
rules of sacrifice, which constituted the first parasha (Vayikra) and Their motivation should not be to try and "bribe" God, or propitiate
the first half of Tzav. This, though, is more than a necessity for Him, but to honor Him, for He is coming to see them today. After
intervening parshiot. To a great extent, this distinction between the they do just that, he then discloses to them the secret - that honest
meeting of God and Moshe, and the worship (avoda) of Aharon, is service and honor of God is the method which will lead to the
the distinction between Sefer Shemot and Sefer Vayikra. The atonement of the sin of the golden calf. If their motivation is not
construction of the Tent of Meting is the logical conclusion of the to bribe God, then He indeed is propitiated and accepts their
giving of the Torah at Sinai, and its permanent concretization. sacrifice "le-ratzon."
God spoke to the Jews and gave the Torah at Sinai; in the Ohel E. Afterword - Peshat and Midrash
Moed He will continue to teach (Moshe) and reveal Himself and His Before God appears to the assembled people on the eighth
Torah. Sefer Vayikra is not about God speaking to Man, but rather day, there is a curious hesitation. Despite Moshe's assurance
about Man - Aharon the priest as a representative of Israel - that if they perform the sacrifices, God will appear to them, in fact
worshipping and serving God. There is a mishkan (Ohel Moed) of nothing happens when Aharon finishes the sacrificial service.
Shemot, in which Moshe is the major figure, and a mishkan (altar) Aharon blesses the people and descends from the altar. The
of Vayikra, in which Aharon has the central role. verse emphasizes that he has finished "performing the sin-
We can now answer question #1 from our list of textual offering and the burnt-offering and the peace-offering" (9:22). The
difficulties. Why were the elders called together with Aharon? The next verse is very enigmatic: "Moshe and Aharon went into the tent
answer is, for the same reason that the people were instructed to of the meeting, and came out and blessed the people; and the glory
bring a sacrifice together with Aharon. The service in the Temple of God appeared to all the people" (9:23). What happened in the
and the mishkan is entrusted to Aharon and the priestly class Tent of Meeting, and why?
ONLY as representatives of all Israel. The Tent of Meeting is a Rashi quotes a midrash:
place for the individual, alone with God. The mishkan- altar is a "When Aharon saw that all the sacrifices had been offered and
place for Israel as one, as a corporate body - Knesset Yisrael. all the actions performed, and yet the Presence had not
Hence, the actual carrying out of the "construction" of this mishkan, descended on Israel, he became very troubled and said: I know
which is the bringing of these inaugural sacrifices, should be done that God was angry with me (because of my part in making the
not by Moshe, nor by Aharon as an individual, but by Israel, with golden calf), and it is my fault that the Presence has not
Aharon as the main representative. This body is "Aharon and the descended on Israel. "He said to Moshe: Moshe my brother, see
elders, speaking and commanding Israel." what you have done to me, that I have entered (the sanctuary)
(Rashi's explanation [9:1] that the elders were called in order and was shamed. "Moshe immediately went in with him and they
that they bear witness that God has chosen Aharon as priest does asked for mercy, and the Presence descended on Israel."
not contradict this point. On the contrary, it highlights the necessity This midrash both supports and contradicts the point I have just
that Aharon act within the framework of national consensus. This made. On the one hand, it emphasizes that the descent of
explains the importance of the dispute concerning Aharon in Sefer thePresence and the appearance of God to the people was not a
Bamidbar, a tension which is lacking regarding Moshe's position, "sure thing," but rather dependent on God's attitude towards those
even in Parashat Korach). who brought the sacrifice. Ultimately, God will appear only after
Most importantly, we can now understand the implication of the proper preparations and actions on the part of Aharon (and
the opening point of today's shiur. Unlike the presence of God on Moshe). On the other hand, it seems that it is not always enough to
the Tent of Meeting, which is initiated simply by the building of the stand honestly and honor God's impending presence. Although
mishkan, the Presence of God on the altar requires actions on Aharon has completed the regular service, he is found wanting.
Man's part, a process of approaching God and requesting, This situation is exactly what is indicated by the "hidden" nature
praying, beseeching Him to accept our offerings. This is called "le- of this part of the story. Since the presence of God in relation to
ratzon" in the Torah, and is the subject of the 17th berakha of the accepting our service depends on our actions and relationship with
daily prayers - "Retzeh." "This," says Moshe, "is what you must do, God, it of course follows that the private specific situation of each
in order that God appear to you." You must bring propitiatory individual will be taken into account. Hence, Aharon, who is the
sacrifices. Rashi and other commentators, following the comments instrument of this service, has a private problem, based on his role
in the midrash, sees in the particular sacrifices brought on this day - in the episode of the golden calf. But this is a private matter between
two calves - a clear hint to the golden calf. Whether or not the Jews, God and Aharon, and the details do not concern us. Hence the
and Aharon in particular, will be able to offer sacrifices which will be Torah omits the private details, only hinting at the important point
ACCEPTABLE to God is an open question. The sin must be atoned and its lesson for us - the Presence of God and His acceptance of
for, and there is considerable anxiety within Israel whether this will our service depends on our actions. The hesitation at the end
take place. This, I believe, is the reason that the Jews "cheer" affirms that point dramatically, without the exact reason being
("vayaronu") when the divine fire consumes their sacrifices, even as important. The midrash fills in the missing details to help us
they fall on their faces. The fire, even as it is awesome and perhaps understand the story, but from the Torah's point of view - peshat -
even terrifying, is also a relief for their mounting tension and anxiety. these details are not significant.
D. Cause and Effect C) SICHAT ROSH YESHIVA
But, you may argue, this explanation for the two aspects of text
mishkan actually undermines the significance of the last point. Once
we define the second aspect of mishkan as the place for sacrifices,
then it is no longer apparent that special preparations are needed 8 - TANACH STUDY CENTER (M. Leibtag)
In Memory of Rabbi Abraham Leibtag [http://www.virtual.co.il/torah/tanach]
for this mishkan, as opposed to the Tent of Meeting. The only
ceremony that is performed here is the bringing of sacrifices. text
This, perhaps, is no more than the parallel to the construction of the
mishkan by Moshe. The mishkan of meeting requires a tent, the
mishkan of sacrifices requires sacrifices. Why have I insisted 9 BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY
A project of Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Jewish Studies, Paul and Helene hulman Basic Jewish Studies Center, and the
that, in contradistinction to the Tent of Meeting, the initiative here Office of the Campus Rabbi. Sponsored by Dr. Ruth Borchard of the Shoresh Charitable Fund (SCF). Published with
lies firmly on the Jews and on Aharon? assistance of the President's Fund for Torah and Science.Web Site: http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha
The answer is the explicit emphasis of the verse I quoted at the A) ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EIGHTH DAY:
outset. Moshe makes a special point of addressing the Jews Rabbi Samuel Ingber, Nesher
AFTER they have prepared the sacrifices, and tells them, "THIS is "On the Eighth Day the Flesh of his Foreskin Shall Be
that which God has commanded you to do, and God's glory shall Circumcised"
appear to you" (9:6). This verse clearly reads like an instruction Circumcision is first commanded in the Bible when G-d says
manual - do the following, and then, as a result, God's glory 1 to Abraham, "And throughout the generations, every male
among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days" (Gen. study it was shown that during the first few days after birth a newborn
17:12). This verse, however, does not explain the reason for has difficulty with blood-clotting, but by the eighth day the blood-
circumcision being performed precisely on the eighth day. The clotting mechanism reaches its maximal function. The entry
command appears again in Parshat Tazria, in the discussion about a "Circumcision" in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics, Part 3
woman at childbirth being unclean: "When a woman at childbirth (edited by Dr. Abraham Steinberg, Jerusalem 1993) reads:
bears a male, she shall be unclean seven days; she shall be unclean Immediately at birth the newborn has sufficient clotting factors,
as at the time of her menstrual infirmity. On the eighth day the flesh transferred to it from the mother. These factors rapidly break
of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall remain in a state of down, in two or three days, making it necessary for clotting
blood purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any factors to be produced independently, a process that takes place
consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until her period of in the liver. However the liver of a newborn is not fully developed,
purification is completed" (Lev. 12:2-4). The main point we seek to therefore from age three to five days, every neonate, including
understand is why circumcision is to be performed precisely on the healthy ones, suffers from a shortage of clotting factors; thus
eighth day? circumcision at this age is dangerous due to the risk of bleeding.
Three explanations are given in tannaitic commentaries. The From the sixth day on independent clotting factors begin to be
reason given in the Talmud revolves around the issue of formed by the neonate's liver, thus by the eighth day he is ready
strengthening the marital bond. As we have seen, in Parshat Tazria in this respect.
the commandment to circumcise on the eighth day was written in the Later exegesis has a tendency to prefer spiritual explanations. R.
context of laws about the uncleanness of a woman at childbirth, Solomon Ephraim of Luncz's Bible commentary, Kli Yakar, focuses
indicating that the answer to our question is to be found in this on the uncleanness of the newborn. He explains that the woman's
juxtaposition. Indeed, the only reason explicitly cited by the Talmud is menstrual uncleanness is due to the sin in the Garden of Eden. Were
based on this semichut parshiot. According to this explanation the it not for this sin, man would be like an angel of G-d, more elevated
eighth day was chosen precisely because one had to wait until the than the seven planetary systems, but due to his sin he fell from this
woman's seven unclean days were over. This idea is suggested by R. lofty spiritual state. Everything natural is related to the number seven,
Simeon bar Yohai: "Why did the Torah establish circumcision on the and everything spiritual is above nature and therefore related to the
eighth day? So as not to have everyone rejoicing while the father and number eight. Since the mother is unclean for seven days, this
mother are sad"[because they cannot be together] (Niddah 31b). uncleanness also affects the newborn. Hence he can not
Another explanation, concerning the vigor of the newborn, is cited bcircumcised until the eighth day, when he comes out of his
there in the name of R. Yudan bar Pazi: "Why is the newborn uncleanness.
circumcised on the eighth day? Because the Holy One, blessed be R. Judah Loew (Maharal), in Tifereth Israel, chapters 1-2,
He, bestowed His mercy on him, waiting until he be strong. Just as explains that the natural world was created in seven days, denoted
the Holy One, blessed be He, is merciful to humans, so too to by the number seven, and all that is above nature is denoted by the
animals. How do we know this? From the words, number eight. The uncircumcised state in which man is born
'[When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born], ... and from the eighth symbolizes nature, which is lacking, and correcting this deficiency by
day on .... [it shall be acceptable as an offering]' (Lev. 22:27)" circumcision is perfecting nature; hence circumcision is done on the
(Deuteronomy Rabbah, beginning of Parshat Ki Tetze). eighth day, which is above nature.
A third explanation, having to do with enhancing spirituality, is In his commentary on the verse in Parshat Tazria, R. Samson
offered by Leviticus Rabbah, Parshat Emor (27.10). This midrash Raphael Hirsch also saw the number eight as symbolizing the
maintains that circumcision is put off until the eighth day so that the spiritual. He based his explanation of circumcision being on the
newborn will live through one Sabbath before he is circumcised. We eighth day on this, viewing circumcision as spiritual birth:
quote from the Vilna edition of this midrash: "'It shall stay seven days The seven days of uncleanness conclude a period of a condition
with its mother' (Lev. 22:17): Rabbi Joshua of Sakhnin said in the which must be overcome. Man is distinguished from the
name of Rabbi Levi: It is like a king who comes to a certain state generality of creation which is devoid of freedom of
where he issues an edict as follows: No visitors here shall be choice(created in six days) and became a person having freedom
received by me until they first pay their respects to the Madame. (on the seventh), but receives this gift only by virtue of a
Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Do not bring me a covenant with G-d (the circumcision). Then, on the eighth day he
sacrifice until it has lived through a week, for there are no seven days is born anew not only as Man but as a Jew. The eighth day is
without a Sabbath, and there shall be no circumcision without a therefore a return to the first day on a higher level... Now the
Sabbath." coercive force of the laws of nature, that was revealed in the
This homily is explained by R. Samuel Yaffe Ashkenazi in his mother and son and the moment of physical birth, caused the
commentary, Yefe To'ar: mother seven days of uncleanness of childbirth; this reason in
The Sabbath is referred to as "Madame,"[matrona] in the way itself requires, even with regard to the son in ordinary cases, that
that we speak of the Sabbath Queen. The point of this homily is seven days be completed before the commandment of
that the Sabbath teaches us about renewal of the world and G-d's circumcision is performed.
providence over earthly beings; faith in this must come before all We see that later commentators were more inclined to seek an
else. Therefore, whoever would bring a sacrifice, giving an explanation of this commandment not on the revealed level of the
offering to the Lord without faith in His renewing the world and Torah but on the concealed level. As R. Abraham Bornstein wrote on
extending His providence over it, performs a religious act in vain. this question in Resp. Avnei Nezer, Yoreh Deah 469.7: "But the real
Hence it says that a Sabbath must pass before bringing a reason lies in the higher spheres, and the rabbis clothed this hidden
sacrifice or performing circumcision. reason in a revealed one."
Thus, tannaitic scholars give three reasons for circumcision being Perhaps this inclination stemmed from the fact that the Talmudic
on the eighth day. One explanation is sociological--concerning explanation about the marital relationship no longer held because of
relations between spouses. This is the only explanation that is based changes in the halakhah on seven unclean days. The medical
on the written Torah, on a verse in Parshat Tazria, and it is the only explanations, that relate to this commandment from the point of view
one explicitly mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Niddah, of the health of the newborn and were taken up by Maimonides,
in the name of R. Simeon bar Yohai. The second explanation is apparently were off-putting. During this period science began to
medical, concerning the weakness of the newborn; the third is develop rapidly, bringing new discoveries, some reflecting scientific
spiritual, concerning the spiritual benefit of the Sabbath to the truth and others later to be shown erroneous. The need to explain the
newborn. The last two explanations are not reinforced by a verse reason for things in the Torah according to scientific laws and
from the Torah, nor do they appear in the Talmud, rather, only in discoveries could lead to trouble if a certain scientific discovery were
midrashic works. found to contradict a law of the Torah. Perhaps for this reason the
The fact that the Torah explicitly alludes to the first explanation rabbis preferred the more spiritual and kabbalistic interpretations,
indicates that it puts priority on the happiness of the couple and on which would always be acceptable to believers, with no fear of a
strengthening the relationship between them, even placing this above conflict between the natural and the supernatural.
spiritual and medical explanations. The Babylonian Talmud It should be noted that post-Talmudic interpretive trends, be it
apparently preferred this explanation because it is hinted at explicitly Maimonides' views or the approach of later commentators, do not
in the Torah, also because it reflects the view that a good marital present totally new ideas, rather they rest on the two midrashic
relationship is the foundation of all human existence, reflecting the interpretations that existed alongside the interpretative approach
idea, "He ... called them [i.e. man and woman together] Man" (Gen. taken by the Talmud.
5:2). A healthy marriage can be the basis for perfection in other  For more on this subject, see the article of Dr. Yirmiyahu Malhi, Hebrew Para sha no. 129, 1996.
 Targum Jonathan on Parshat Tazria reads: "And on the eighth day she becomes permitted, and
material and spiritual realms. the son's foreskin shall be circumcised." In other words, only after the woman is permitted to her husband
is circumcision to be performed. Likewise see the remarks by R. Abraham ha -Levi in Resp. Ginat Veradim,
In view of the above, why did Maimonides ignore the explicit Orah Hayyim Rule 1, 25, s.v. "ve-li nireh," where he writes: "It is a self-evident interpretation, for why
reason given by R. Simeon bar Yohai in the Talmud, preferring juxtapose the laws of circumcision to the laws of menstrual uncleanness?"  It is interesting to note that
even with regard to the abstinence from marital relations during the wife's seven unclean days, the gemara
instead the reason cited in Midrash Rabbah which pertains to the cites a reason which actually has to do with strengthening the bond between husband and wife. The
newborn's lack of vigor: "The fact that circumcision is performed on following baraita is presented there in the name of R. Meir: "Why did the Torah dictate menstrual
uncleanness for seven days? Because he grows accustomed to her, and tired of her; so the Torah said, let
the eighth day is due to the circumstance that all living beings are her be unclean for seven days so that she again be pleasing to her husban d as when she first came under
the bridal canopy" (Niddah 31b).  Also with regard to the reason for menstrual uncleanness (cf. note
very weak and exceedingly tender when they are born, as if they 3, above), see the remarks of Dr. Jacob Smitlein in the booklet, "Higeina Minit mi -Behina Mada'it"
were still in the womb. This is so until seven days are past. It is only ("Sexual Hygiene from a Scientific Point of View"), published by the National Institute for Family Purity
in Israel. There he notes that during menstruation the issue of blood lasts five days, and during the next
then that they are counted among the living. Do you not see that this seven days the mucous membrane of the uterus that disintegrated is restored. These two stages of five days
point is also taken into account with regard to beasts? 'Seven days followed by another seven exactly correspond to the laws on menstrual uncleanness.  Cf. also Dr.
Ayala Abrahamov, "Ba'ayot krisha ve-dimum ba-yilod", Assia 3, p. 384. This medical reason is also
shall it be with its dam, ...' (Lev. 22:27). It is as if before that period it discussed on the Internet site, http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~v, in the article by Gerald N. Weiss, "A
Perspective on Controversies over Neonatal Circumcision." There he writes: "The operation was to be
were a fetus" (Guide of the Perplexed III.49). performed on the seventh neonatal day. This predated the discovery of the blood-clotting mechanisms in
It seems we should accept R. Barukh ha-Levi Epstein's infancy. We know now that the clotting factors become functional by the seventh neonatal day in the
explanation in Torah Temimah (Parshat Tazria 22), that Maimonides
preferred the reason based on strengthening the newborn since the B) SECOND ARTICLE
reason concerning the woman's uncleanness was no longer text
significant, because the period of abstinence from marital relations in
Jewish custom was not the seven days of Biblical law but twelve
10- PARSHA PAGE
by Mordecai Kornfeld
The reason based on the newborn's health is supported by THE ACCURACY OF OUR WRITTEN TORAH
medical research done in our generation. According to this 1
Our Torah scroll is perhaps our most revered physical number of letters in the Torah, since he himself was blind and could
possession today. The honor and respect with which we handle our not count them by heart and he was not willing to rely on another
Torah in synagogue results from our knowledge that it contains the person's count –- see Rav Reuvain Margulies in "HaMikra
words of Hashem as dictated to Moshe over 3300 years ago. V’HaMesorah," #4).
Meticulous care has been taken to insure the proper Due to the dispersal of the Jewish people and the lack of a
transmission of the Torah. There are many factors which collectively central supervising authority, variations in scrolls continued.
contribute to the wholeness of the Torah, but perhaps the single Authorities in Israel and Bavel, independently, undertook to produce
most important factor is the orthography, or proper spelling of each one highly accurate text. These authorities, called the Masorites,
word. In fact, the orthography of the Torah is considered so thrived and produced such works between the 8th and 10th
important that the scribe is instructed to "be careful with your task, centuries. Their methodology, which was based on the system
for it is sacred work; if you add or subtract even a single letter, [it is described by the Yerushalmi Ta'anit (above, section II), may be
as if] you have destroyed the entire world!" (Eruvin 13a). The called the "eclectic process," or majority rule.
Rambam writes (Hil. Sefer Torah 7:11) that if one letter is added to Simply stated, this process involves surveying a great variety of
or missing from a Torah, it is invalidated and is not conferred the Torah scrolls whereby each letter of the text is compared and
sanctity of a Torah scroll. Special mechanisms were established by contrasted. The correct orthography is determined based on the
the Sages to ensure its accurate transmission through the majority of texts, and hence errors are weeded out. For example, if in
generations (see, for example, Megilah 18b; YD #274). a survey of 200 Sifrei Torah, 198 were found to have in one
(From the wording of the Rambam, it appears that this is true particular place a spelling of ‘honour’ and 2 were found to have the
even if the wanton letter does not affect the meaning of the word. spelling as ‘honor’, it may be assumed that the former is the correct
This is also the ruling of the Tikunei ha'Zohar (#25), Ramban end of orthography, while the latter were introduced by careless scribes. (Of
Introduction to the Torah, Magen Avraham and Vilna Gaon OC course, the eclectic process can only be employed using older texts
143:4, Sha'agat Aryeh (#36), Chatam Sofer (OC #52), in contrast to of good standing to some degree. This is evident from the fact that
Minchat Chinuch's ruling (#613) that a missing or additional letter only the three scrolls found in the Temple confines were considered
does not invalidate a Torah scroll unless it affects either a word's for the process, in the time of Ezra. After all, certainly hundreds of
pronunciation or its literal or exegetical meaning.) scrolls were in existence at the time.)
Originally, the Torah was so well preserved that every letter was The crowning jewel of the master texts produced in this manner
counted (Kiddushin 30a), which is why the early scribes were given was the one produced in Teveryah by Aharon ben Moshe ben Asher
the title "Soferim" ("Counters/Scribes"). Thousands of traditions were (known simply as "Ben Asher") of the late 10th century. The
handed down specifying orthographic details. One of the more well- Rambam extols his text as being extremely accurate and it was
known is that the letter 'Vav' of the word 'Gachon' in this week’s adopted by the Rambam and many others as the standard
Parasha (Vayikra 11:42) is the middle letter of the Torah (Kiddushin, (Rambam, Hil. Sefer Torah, beginning of 8:4). In the Rambam’s time,
ibid. -- refer to Rabbi Kornfeld's "Torah from the Internet" p. 122 for this Torah was known to be in Alexandria, Egypt. (Traditionally, the
an in-depth discussion of this and similar traditions.) "Keter Aram Tzova," or Aleppo Codex, presently in Yerushalayim, is
Indeed, the text of today's Torah scrolls the world over are purported to be the Ben Asher manuscript. Unfortunately, only the
uniform, with very few exceptions. As we will demonstrate, the Nevi'im and Ketuvim sections of this manuscript remain intact, as
Mesorah (transmitted tradition) of our text was well tended to; its virtually the entire Torah section of the manuscript was lost to fire a
margin of error appears to be less than .00004, and to involve only few decades ago.)
insignificant letters at that. However, upon investigation it is evident Today, the Teimani (Yemenite) Torah scrolls are very likely
that there existed many variants among older Torah scrolls. This exact copies of this text. It is well known that the Yemenite Jews
prompts us to ask a number of questions: adhered firmly to the Rambam's rulings in every matter of Halachah.
(a) First, one must ask how it came to be that there existed such The limited size and dispersion of their community throughout the
diverse texts. Did they derive from individual copyists' errors, or were generations made it much easier for them to preserve their Mesorah.
there differing Mesorot? Indeed, there is no variance among Teimani scrolls today.
(b) Second, one must ask how we came to accept at present one text Despite the Rambam’s efforts to ensure the perpetuation of one
as "correct" from among the many that once existed. standardized text, divergent scrolls began to propagate once again. A
(c) Third, can we have any degree of certainty that the present day contemporary of the Ramban, the RaMaH (Rav Meir Halevi Abulafia -
unified text is the accurate text of the Torah as transmitted to and - early 13th century), undertook to reestablish a text of exceptional
transcribed by Moshe? In this essay, we will attempt to address accuracy. The RaMaH again used the eclectic process, surveying
these questions. hundreds of old and reputable scrolls. (RaMaH did not have the Ben
II Asher manuscript at his disposal.) The resultant text was published
Originally, it was easy to attend to the Mesorah of the Torah in his work "Mesores Seyag la'Torah." Given the great effort that
text. A Torah scroll written in Moshe’s own hand was kept in or near RaMaH invested in this project and his standing as a leading
the Holy Ark in the Holy of Holies (Bava Batra 14a). This text, which Halachic authority, his work became the definitive standard until
apparently was accessible to the Kohanim (Rashi Bava Batra 14b today, certainly with regard to orthography (see Ohr Torah, Minchat
s.v. Sefer; see also Tosefot, Bava Batra 14a s.v. Shelo), Shai and Keset ha'Sofer).
undoubtedly served as the proof text for all other texts. The scroll We have thus answered the first two of our questions:
which each Jewish king was required to write and bear at all times (a) Since a standard, approved Mesorah for the Torah text existed
was likewise copied from this scroll (Rambam, Hil. Sefer Torah 7:2, throughout much of our history, in all probability the variant texts of
based on Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 2:6). The kingly scrolls, in turn, early Torahs may be attributed to sloppy copyists, who did not
served as proof texts after their owner’s death. carefully compare their work with the Masoretic proof-text of the
The destruction of the first Beit ha'Mikdash most likely brought times, or were not able to do so.
with it the destruction of these proof texts. Ezra the Scribe, who led (b) The manner in which the mistaken texts were weeded out from
the people back to Eretz Yisrael and began to rebuild the Beit the correct ones was the eclectic process of the Yerushalmi in
ha'Mikdash, set to reestablishing a proof text. At this point, a defining Ta'anit, which has been employed regularly since the time of Chazal
event occurred. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta'anit 4:2), in order to ensure proper transmission of the Torah.
three ancient scrolls were found in the Temple confines which had IV
slightly variant texts. (Although the Yerushalmi does not specify (c) However, we have not yet addressed our third question: Can it
when this occurred, other sources relate that it happened in the days be scientifically demonstrated that our text is indeed the correct one
of Ezra and according to some versions, it was Ezra himself who (i.e., that the eclectic process worked)?
found the scrolls -- see Torah Sheleimah, Shemot 24:25.) The Halachically, we are secure in our reliance on the eclectic
Yerushalmi then relates that the correct version of the Torah was process (Teshuvot Ginat Veradim 1:2:6). This does not mean,
determined by virtue of a majority of 2 against 1. though, that our Mesorah is 100% in agreement with the original text
Throughout the period of the Second Beit ha'Mikdash, a scroll that was handed to us by Moshe. It only means that we are doing
referred to as 'Sefer Ezra' or 'Sefer Ha’azarah' (Moed Katan 18b) our best and are following the dictates of Halachah in determining
served as the standard for all others. Sefer Ha’azarah was either the how to write our Torahs. In fact, many authorities write that our texts
very scroll that was written by Ezra the Scribe or one that was copied may very well not match up with the true Mosaic text (authorities in
from it (Rashi, ibid.). Professional Soferim were employed at the Beit OC 143:4, Sha'agat Aryeh. Chatam Sofer and Minchat Chinuch cited
ha'Mikdash to correct private scrolls based on this scroll (Ketuvot at the beginning of section I, see Hagaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch in
106a; Shekalim 10b). "Mitzvat ha'Yom," pp. 32-43, who discusses the Halachic aspects of
These highly accurate scrolls and their copies remained the this statement in detail.).
standard until well after the destruction of the second Beit But does that mean that our texts may be *wildly inaccurate*, or
ha'Mikdash. The Talmud in Kiddushim (30a) establishes that the that *one or two* discrepancies may exist? Or, returning to our first
accurate counting of the letters of the Torah was preserved at least question, can it be proven that enough attention was given to
until Tanaitic times (2nd century CE). preserving the Mesorah and that copyists' errors were usually nipped
III in the bud before assuming the part of "Mesorah?" Or did too long a
A century or so later, in the times of the Amora'im, Rav Yosef time pass between Masoretic overhauls, and many errors became
commented that this accuracy was already somewhat diluted. Such a independent Mesorahs over the years? (This theoretical question
lack of accuracy can only have been made apparent by the has been brought to the forefront in recent years by the great Torah
existence of divergent texts. The Gemara makes it clear that even Codes debate.) An exercise regarding this very question has been
this dilution of accuracy was only with regard to Malei and Chaser. conducted by Dr. Mordechai Breuer of Yerushalayim, with
(Malei and Chaser refer to unpronounced letters, such as 'Vav' and fascinating results.
'Yud,' which lend added accent to vowels. Their presence or In his work, "The Aleppo Codex and the Accepted Text of the
absence does not affect the meaning of a word). Nor does the Torah," Dr. Breuer describes his years of meticulous research and
Gemara state in how many instances doubts arose regarding discusses his conclusions in attempting to demonstrate the scientific
orthography. It is possible that these uncertainties were limited to a usefulness of the eclectic process. In fact, Dr. Breuer’s purpose was
very few instances. In fact, nowhere in the Talmud or Midrashic to demonstrate that a single Mesorah already existed in the years
sources is there recorded a dispute over the orthography of a prior to the RaMaH, even though the RaMaH did not have such a
specific Malei or Chaser, either before or after the time of Rav Yosef. Mesorah at his disposal. (The existence of such a single Mesorah is
(It should be pointed out that according to some, Rav Yosef was flatly rejected by many academicians.)
merely stating that *he* could not determine the exact 1
Dr. Breuer began by selecting four texts of ancient origin to Indeed, the prototype of all crises is the Creation of the world,
compare and contrast in his study. Each of these texts predate the which began "without form, and void; and darkness was on the face
RaMaH. The texts were all of the type written by the Tiberian of the deep" (Gen. 1:2). All succeeding crises in this world are a
Masorites (as opposed to the Babylonian Masorites) yet clearly result of the terrible descent from eternity and infinity to
differed from each other in certain significant formatting areas, "formlessness and void." Gradually, the world is reaching perfection,
indicating that they were not copied from an immediate common and each crisis it undergoes constitutes an essential, integral part of
source. In addition, he included the text of the Mikra'ot Gedolot of reality. Of course, each person is responsible for his own personal
Yaakov ben Chaim, printed in Venice, 1525. (It should be noted that sins and imperfections, but in a world which is imperfect, these are
the orthography of these 5 texts differed widely from one another, in unavoidable: "There is no saint in the land who does only good and
one case by more than 200 letters from the others.) never sins" (see Orot HaTeshuva 5:6). The lesson to be learned here
Using the eclectic process, he suggested that if a broad majority is how to react to crises. The philosophy of Judaism is not one of
of 4 out of 5 texts (and not just 3 of the 5) agreed with each other, it despair, but of hope. It is incumbent upon Man to overcome crises,
could be assumed that the fifth, inconsistent text was a copyists' and to utilize them as a mechanism to enable him to rise to higher
error. His results were startling. There are 304,805 letters in the spiritual levels. According to Eiruvin 63a, Nadav and Avihu sinned by
Torah. All five texts were in *total* agreement in all but about 220 introducing humanly lit fire into the Sanctuary, "a strange fire which
letters. Of these, all but *20* were resolved by a majority of at least 4 He had not commanded them" (Levit. 10:1). Fire represents energy -
texts against 1! Of the 20 remaining conflicts, Dr. Breuer was able to the power behind all human spiritual and physical action. Although
clarify all but *6* by applying another Masorite method, that of their motivation was to serve Gd, their energy was not directed into
carefully studying thousands of early Masoretic notes (a broader the correct channels. The crisis of Nadav and Avihu teaches us how
topic similar in style to the eclectic process). These final 6 he was to relate to sanctity. No words could explain what was so vividly
not able to clarify because three of the Torahs presented one made clear by their tragedy. "And Aharon was silent" (Levit. 10:3).
spelling, while the remaining *two* presented another. It was Through internalization of this lesson, he was uplifted and privileged
apparent that nearly all of the inconsistencies between the Torahs to experience prophecy on a higher level than previously (Rashi,
were caused by copyists errors, and not by Masoretic uncertainties. op.cit.). Although they strove to come close to Gd, the way that they
Next, the resultant ‘eclectic’ text was compared with the chose was not one that Gd had commanded. Therefore it was
RaMaH’s text (i.e., our present text). It was found that the RaMaH doomed to failure. Knowledge of the Absolute can only be achieved
differed in but *6* places from the eclectic. That is, the margin of by absolute faithfulness to the Torah on our part.
uncertainty of our Torah scrolls is probably not more than 12 (out of
304,805!) letters -- the 6 indeterminate ones, plus the six in which
the RaMaH's text differed from Dr. Breuer's eclectic! When he 12- HARAV SOLOVEICHIK ZT"L
compared the results of his experiment with the Teimani text (which, (Shiur Date: 4/19/77)
as we mentioned, is probably identical to that of Ben Asher), the "And Moshe said: this is what Hashem has commanded you to
results were even more startling. The texts were in perfect do in order that the glory of Hashem may be revealed to you."
agreement! Their margin of uncertainty may be no more than 6 (Vayikra 9:6).
letters! Equally amazing is that *all* the above mentioned differences This verse is reminiscent of several verses in Shemos and
involve Vavs and Yuds, which do not affect the meaning of the word Bamidbar which describe the Ohel Moed as the place where Hashem
at all. would meet with Moshe. (See Shemos 25:22, 40:34-35, Bamidbar
(As for the remaining six uncertainties in Dr. Breuer's eclectic 7:89). The Rav noted that the verse in Shemos (29:42-44) says that
survey, in three of the instances the RaMaH and Teimani texts the Olas Tamid was to be brought at the entrance to Ohel Moed
agreed with the 3-against-2 majority text. In the other three cases, before Hashem, where Hashem will meet with you (Lachem) to speak
the RaMaH and Teimani texts were themselves split over the same to you (Aylecha) there. And Hashem will meet there with Bnay Yisrael
variant spellings as were the pre-RaMaH texts. In total, that means and it will become sanctified through the glory of Hashem. Why does
that the Teimani text differs from the RaMaH's text in but *9* letters -- the Torah say in this verse that the meeting was to be between
see endnotes for details.) Hashem and Bnay Yisrael, while in most other places the Torah says
In conclusion, the transmission of our Torah text has been well that the meeting would take place between Hashem and Moshe?
tended to and well preserved. The methods of Chazal have proudly The Rav explained that Ohel Moed was the place of meeting
withstood the tests of time. Such demonstrations of the strength of between Hashem and Bnay Yisrael. However Moshe was the
our Mesorah are indeed a Kiddush Hashem. emissary of Bnay Yisrael and he represented them in his meetings
ENDNOTES: Torah variants of Dr. Breuer's results, as compared to with Hashem. The Rav noted that the fact that Moshe was the
our (=RaMaH's) Torahs, in order of appearance (E=eclectic; emissary of Bnay Yisrael is noted in the Gemara (Berachos 32) when
T=Teimani): (1) Bereishit 4:13 "Mineso" (E&T w/o Vav); (2)Bereishit explaining the verse Lech Rayd, go down from your greatness. The
7:11 "Ma'ayanos (E&T w/o Vav); (3)Bereishit 9:29 "Vayehi" (E&T only reason you, Moshe, were granted leadership was on behalf of
Vayiheyu); (4) Bereishit 46:13 "v'Shimron" (E with Vav); (5)Shemot Bnay Yisrael. Now that they have sinned there no longer is a need for
14:22 "Chomah" (E w/o Vav); (6) Shemot 25:31 "Te'aseh" (E&T w/o you to serve as their leader.] Bnay Yisrael, and not Moshe, were the
Yud); (7)Shemot 28:26 "ha'Efod" (E&T w/o Vav); (8)Bamidbar 1:17 intended audience for the revelation of Hashem all along. Moshe was
"b'Shemot" (T w/o Vav); (9)Bamidbar 10:10 "Chodsheichem" (T with the medium through which that revelation took place, because the
Yud); (10)Bamidbar 22:5 "Be'or" (T w/o Vav); (11) Bamidbar 33:52 people were not capable of meeting directly with Hashem. The
"Bamotam" (E w/o Vav); (12)Devarim 23:2 "Daka" (E&T with Alef verses in Parshas Tetzaveh (Shemos 29:42-45) state the ultimate
instead of Heh. Lubavitch Chassidic texts are in agreement with T in purpose of the Kedushas Hamishkan: for Hashem to dwell,
this matter). Kvayachol, among Bnay Yisrael.
In Parshas Shemini we find that the first revelation of Hashem
was to the people. As Moshe said "for today Hashem will appear to
11- ATERET COHANIM you (Bnay Yisrael)". Hashem wants to make this into a place where
The Jerusalem Reclamation Project He meets with Bnay Yisrael, not Moshe personally. Even though
"DEDICATION OF THE MIKDASH" subsequent meetings after the dedication of the Mishkan were
by Rav Shlomo Aviner between Hashem and Moshe, Moshe still acted as the representative
The Mikdash/Mishkan is the site where the Nation of Israel meets of Bnay Yisrael. The revelation discussed in Parshas Shemini is the
Gd. This encounter works in two directions: Gd reveals Himself to us precedent that indicates that even though subsequent revelations
as a nation, while we serve Him in His sanctuary (see Parshat Tzav were to Moshe alone, they were virtual revelations to all of Bnay
page; Rambam, Hilchot Beit HaBechira 1:1). The first aspect, that of Yisrael, even though Moshe acted as the emissary of Bnay Yisrael.
revelation, is an exalted, abstract, and objective matter. It finds
expression through the physical, subjective service that we perform
there. When the Divine Presence "descends" to this world, it
undergoes extreme diminution (Orot HaTeshuva 11:4). Our service
A Publication of Student Organization of Yeshiva University
may be viewed as construction of "tools" by means of which we are Vol. 16 No. 27
able to experience the Divine Presence, and so to raise "this- SLOW DOWN, YOU'RE MOVING TOO FAST
worldliness" back up to the level of Gdliness. It is as if the Divine David Flamholz
Light is "primary," and human light is "reflected". The Holy One One of the truly striking sections of this week's Parsha, Parshas
lowers a ladder from Heaven to Earth, and we climb it and meet Him Shmini, is the story of the unfortunate and tragic deaths of the two
as He descends that same ladder. The means by which we achieve sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu. In an effort to console Aharon,
this revelation is the Mikdash, through the service of the Shewbread, Moshe tells him B'Krovi Ekadesh - through those that are close to Me
the Incense, daily sacrifices, and the Menora - representing all I will be sanctified. Rashi on that pasuk brings the Sifra which
aspects of public life (See Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, Kuzari 2:26). The explains: "Moshe told Aharon, 'Aharon my brother, I have known that
service in the Mikdash encompasses all spheres of human endeavor. the House would be sanctified by those beloved of the Omnipresent,
The workers are the Cohanim, who both represent and belong to the and I thought that that would be either by myself or by you.
Nation of Israel. This may be compared to a hand that does work for, Now I see that they are greater than I and than you.'" Moshe was
and is a part of, one's body. Credit for work done goes to the person, in effect telling Aharon that Nadav and Avihu were on a higher level
not to his hand. In this week's parsha, after all the preparations than they themselves were. Similarly, the Zohar in Acharei Mos says
described previously, we finally are ready to dedicate the Mishkan. Nadav and Avihu were equal to the seventy members of Sanhedrin
The dedication takes the form of seven days of service by the and, therefore, their deaths atoned for the sins of Bnei Yisorel. We
Cohanim preceding the revelation of the Divine Presence. The get the impression from both Rashi and the Zohar that Nadav and
Hebrew word for dedication - Chanuka - comes from the same root Avihu were considered to be nearly perfect individuals, on the same
as that for education - Chinuch. The way to educate the nation to level as - if not on a higher level than - Moshe and Aharon. However,
serve Gd is through performing the service. from the Medrash Rabbah and Tanchuma of Acharei Mot we get a
Suddenly, as the Mishkan is being dedicated, something different impression. There are several reasons given for the deaths
happens; Nadav and Avihu, sons of Aharon, meet their death. To a of Nadav and Avihu and all of them are related to some impropriety
drunk, the world is straight and simple; we who are sober know that which they committed. Among them is the adjudication of the law in
one crisis follows another (see Mishlei 23:31 and Yoma 75a). Birth the presence of their teachers, the bringing of a sacrifice which was
itself is the first crisis for each individual (see Nida 31:1). not commanded, and the bringing of a foreign fire. According to
1 some they would even walk behind Moshe and Aharon and ask
themselves when the leaders would die so that they could take over. Sh"dal (Shmuel David Letzatto), and R' Kasher in Torah Shleimah
This is hardly the behavior one would expect from future leaders (parshas Mishpatim perek 24, footnote #5) state that the sin of Nadav
of the nation. How are we to rationalize the impression we get of bnei and Avihu is found in their midah of haughtiness. R' Dessler
Aharon from Rashi and the Zohar with the reasons for their deaths as enumerates fifteen sins and sees the root of all of them imbedded in
put forth by Chazal? their lack of anavah. He quotes the Ramban's comment Samchu al
R' Eliyahu Dessler in his work Michtav Me'Eliyahu explains that ze bebitachon atzmi vedavar ze ainenu mattim bedakai dakus el
there is one common denominator in all the reasons listed above - in midas anava." This is supported by the examples, "strange fire" - they
all of these acts they lacked both humility and patience. They were should have feared to offer something not commanded of them, to
indeed destined to be the next leaders of klal yisorel, however, only worship while "intoxicated" - even though they were yet prohibited to
at some future time. They believed that their prestige and future enter drunk, they should have realized the effects of wine and the
position among klal yisroel granted them special privileges to act now lack of seriousness it causes before entering, "without proper dress-
as if they had already achieved that position. But why were they code" - the belt is supposed to inspire Yiras Shomayim in the Kohen
wrong for assuming their positions before the proper time - what Gadol before entering the Kodesh HaKodashim, "without washing
would be wrong with them taking advantage of those privileges in hands" - they did not see the purpose of purifying themselves before
advance? entering the Mishkan, "without children" - the Gemorah Sanhedrin
The Rambam in Shmoneh Prakim writes that one must not be too states that someone without children lacks rachmanus and therefore
extreme in any trait. One must pick the middle path in all his ways. is invalid to judge cases dealing with death penalty- a lack of mercy is
Says R' Dessler, the same applies to time. There is a time for an opening for haughtiness. Obviously there are many lessons to
everything but one must recognize the need for limits in time as well. glean from the episode involving Nadav and Avihu. We must
One cannot be too quick or too eager to take advantage of understand that Hashem decides the limitations on our performance
opportunities presented. However, should one be too slow, the of avodas Hashem, and that one must be careful in deciding different
window of opportunity may close. and new ways of serving Hashem. Also, as R' Dessler categorizes
We find a similar idea in the Gemara Berachot 64a: "R'Avin their sin as a flaw in haughtiness one should approach avodas
HaLevi said: Whoever forces the moment, the moment forces him." Hashem as a servant excited to please his master, without external
Rashi in Eruvin 13b explains that one who "forces the moment" is motivations and goals.
one who attempts to attain wealth and honor before the destined PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
time. This person will be "forced by the moment"- he will encounter Benjamin Balint
setbacks and will not be successful. The Vilna Gaon adds that one "And Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, took each his censer, put
who does attempt to force the moment, places himself in mortal fire in it, and put incense on it, and offered strange fire before G-d,
danger. Therefore, says R' Dessler, in reality Nadav and Avihu might which He had not commanded them. And a fire went out from G-d
indeed have been greater than Moshe and Aharon, as Rashi said. and consumed them, and they died before G-d. (Vayikra 10:1-2)
Their deaths could, therefore, have atoned for the sins of klal yisroel. The drama of this episode is impossible to ignore. To the extent,
However, they mistakenly believed that their opportunity for at least according to the Ramban, that the Mishkan represented and
greatness was NOW - there was no need to hold off until a later time. perpetuated the revelation of Har Sinai, the sin of the sons of Aharon
Nadav and Avihu were under the impression that they could take parallels the sin of the golden calf. In both instances, the fall from
advantage of their position. They failed to set limits where limits had the pinnacle of spiritual experience to the depths of religious failure is
to be set and this led to their premature deaths. sudden and devastating. Only a verse before, the purpose of the
THE STRANGE FIRE Mishkan was at long last realized: "And fire came from G-d and
Yosef Kalinsky consumed upon the altar the offering and the fat parts; the people
The passage in this week's parshah dealing with the death saw it, they trembled and fell on their faces." Nadav and Avihu, like
Aharon's sons Nadav and Avihu is particularly short and ambiguous. the perpetrators of the sin of the golden calf, were overcome with an
The Torah simply records that they "brought what was not anxiousness and irrepressible restlessness. The same two brothers
commanded." What was their grave sin which invoked a fire from who had witnessed a great vision of G-d Himself (Shmos 24:9-10),
Hashem to descend and instantly consume them? The commentaries were undeterred in their quest to approach this awesome presence.
grapple with this question and reach seemingly opposite approaches. What was the nature of their sin? In a word, Nadav and Avihu's
Some understand that in actuality no sin was committed, or if any, actions undermined and subverted the very raison d'ךtre and spirit of
nothing so serious as to be punishable by death. Others view the sin the Mishkan.
of Nadav and Avihu as a capital sin which warranted the wrath of First, as demonstrated by "ish machtaso" - "each one of them
Hashem. The Sifra (10:24) describes their action as being done from took his censer," the two men exhibited a conceited individualism.
the joy of seeing Hashem's fire on the mizbeach - amdu lehosif ahava "she'horu halacha bifnei Moshe rabban" - "that they ruled in halacha
al ahava. The Sifra is more commending than condemning of the act in front of their teacher Moshe." (Eruvin 63a) was but one symptom of
of Nadav and Avihu. They did not transgress an explicit prohibition in this strait. In divorcing themselves from the tzibbur, they contradicted
the Torah but exceeded bounds of morality and modesty and were the cooperative and communal features which characterized the
punished by death, due to their elevated position. They wished to Mishkan from its inception. The Mishkan was a national endeavor
express their own personal joy in the sanctification of the Mishkan from the outset. In offering their own k'tores - the symbol of a diverse
and, out of joyous zeal, brought additional incense. They wished to but unified Jewish people and the one sacrifice never allowed to be
cling to Hashem in an informal and personal way without conforming brought as a voluntary n'davah - they refused to recognize that
to preordained rules and regulations. Nadav and Avihu acted out of a authentic religious expression must take place within a larger national
nedivus lev an overflowing of emotions due to the joyous scene and societal context.
outside of the Mishkan and wanted to express their own gratitude Second, and more fundamentally, Nadav and Avihu, in letting
towards Hashem. Apparently, there is no room in Judaism for their religious fervor and ardor go unchecked, performed an act
"religious ecstasy" when it conflicts with the letter of the law. "which He had not commanded them." In their excited spontaneity,
The Ksav Sofer offers an original way of reading the psukim. He they forgot the concept articulated by the prophet: "Has the Lord as
starts by showing references in the psukim to the first two accounts of great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the
the sin of Aharon's sin offered by Rashi and the Midrash, ruling voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to
halacha in front of one's rebbe and intoxication, can be found in the hearken [is better] than the fat of rams!" (1 Shmuel 15:22) They forgot
psukim, but can't find a hint of the other reasons given by the that the detailed laws governing every aspect of the Mishkan and the
Midrash, not marring or saying "when will these two elders die?," in sacrifices were not trivial technicalities, but were designed precisely
the psukim. The reason Nadav and Avihu did not marry, explains the to limit religious subjectivity. They forgot that in Judaism, the Divine
Ksav Sofer, was not due to self- importance or haughtiness, rather Presence, is a commanding Presence. And they forgot that whereas
from love of Hashem and his people. Nadav and Avihu knew that the pagan brings his offering in an attempt to make his G-d
they were the destined future leaders of Bnei Yisrael (in Shemot 24:9 subservient to his own wishes, the Jew brings his offering in an
at Matan Torah, Hashem separates Moshe, Aharon, Nadav and attempt to make himself subservient to G-d's wishes.
Avihu, and seventy elders) and viewed Moshe, their rebbe, as a In this light, we may better appreciate the heroic, stoic silence of
model. They noticed how Moshe had become totally involved "Vayidom Aharon" - "And Aharon was silent." How he must have
attending to the needs of the community and could not concentrate yearned to cry out in mourning! And yet, how fitting a response it
on raising his children, who would not become worthy of becoming was to his sons' violation of G-d's will.
the nation's next leaders. Nadav and Avihu decided that a leader can That we can all stand to benefit in our religious lives from a fresh
best serve his nation if he is freed from the worries and struggles of spirit of vigorous passion and emotion is undoubtedly true. But in
his family. This is the meaning of the statement "when will the two embracing the subjective accent on the how, we cannot neglect, as
elders die." They did not want or anticipate Moshe and Aharon's did Nadav and Avihu, the objective accent on the what; personal
deaths, rather they understood what it takes to be the next leaders. religious expression must occur within the framework of the
Their sin is similar to that of Chizkiyahu Hamelech (Berachos 10a) normative content of our religion.
who looked too far in the future and worried about consequences
without taking Yad Hashem into account. Man is responsible to follow
the commandments of G-d regardless of how he perceives the future;
that is for Hashem to deal with. This is hinted at in the psukim in the
fact that they sinned out of aish shel ahavas Hashem ul'amo, but this
was a "strange fire not commanded for them to bring". Hashem did
not command them to lead in this fashion or in any way different than
Moshe and they were expected to marry and have children.
The Ksav Sofer offers another way of grasping the sin of Nadav
and Avihu, based on the two reasons given by Rashi. Dictating
halacha in front of Moshe and performing the Avodah intoxicated led
to the eventual sin of bringing the strange fire, otherwise how is it
possible to comprehend how Nadav and Avihu, such tzadikim, could
have erred. The order of events is : they drank wine which leads to
haughtiness and light-headedness, which caused them to dictate
halacha in front of Moshe, and their eventual bringing of strange fire.
In the same vein, the Michtav MeEliyahu (chelek 2), Pirush 1