Points to Ponder

Emor 5775

Speak to the Kohanim the sons of Aaron (21:1) – Ramban notes that when we discuss the role of the Kohanim in regard to Korbanos, they are referred to as Bnei Aharon. However when we speak to their status and kedusha, they are referred to as Kohanim. The Chasam Sofer asks why they are referred to as Kohanim Bnei Aharon here insofar as this section deals with the inherent Kedusha of the Kohanim. Why mention that they were Bnei Aharon? The Chasam Sofer answers that in regard to the Kohanim themselves, this issue is one of kohanim – of their inherent holy status. However, as Rashi notes, there is an additional responsibility here – for the adults to teach the younger Kohanim. This second responsibility is one where the Kohein mut protect the young as he would, the Korban. Thus, in that regard, the kohanim are referred to as Bnei Aharon.

Except for his She’Er (21:2) – The Talmud equates She’Er with his wife. Why is she referred to as She’Er here? Rav Dovid Tevel ztl (Nefesh Dovid) – suggested that original wife (Chava) brought sin into the world. That sin brought about death – and survivors. One might assume that the modern recreation of that relationship is cursed --- and accordingly the husband who is a kohein should not relate to it. That is why we refer to the wife as a She’er. It is through that loving relationship that children are born and a family’s name remains for another generation long after this one expires.

And you shall not curse my name (24:32) – The Rambam (Yesodei Hatorah 5:11) explains that Chilul Hashem can exist when a Talmid Chacham merely appears to be engaging in conduct unbecoming his stature. Rav Avraham Pam ztl. would often add that this is true even for things that are not the way they seem. Even if that which is unde question is where there is a plausible explanation that people will not likely conclude, the issue of Chilul Hashem still applies – even when wrong in the minds of people. Therefore, one should avoid Kiyur Meod Meod.

These are the holidays of Hashem that shall be called holy (23:5) – Why is this section in the middle of a Parsha that describes the obligations of Kohanim and Korbanos? Why not put it in the middle of Bamidbar just prior to the Korbanos of Mussaf? Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita quoted Rav Soloveitchik ztl who suggested that the role of the Kohein is not limited to the ceremonial roles in the Beis HaMikdash but included the primary responsibility of education. The main opportunity to educate the masses comes on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Therefore, the Kohein was given responsibility to educate on these days and thus their rules are mentioned here too.


Seven complete weeks (23:15) – Rav Asher Weiss Shlita noted that the three main keilim in the Beis HaMikdash – the Shulchan, Menorah and Mizbeiach all had the concept of Tamid associated with them. This comes to demonstrate that one cannot grow in service to Hashem with breaks and dissociations – there needs to be a continuity to the process. He cited Rav Chaim Shmuellevitz ztl. who famously noted that there is a difference between Rabbi Akiva’s going to learn for 2 12-year periods or one continuous 24 year period. The difference is in the letdown. In Torah growth we cannot allow room for a let down.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Lord am your God." (23:22)  - In last week’s parsha we had almost the exact Mitzva presented. Why the repetition? And why here in the middle of the laws of Shavuos? Rav Aharon Lichtenstein ztl. suggested, based on comments from the Ibn Ezra (who suggested that the object of the message in Parshas Kedoshim is the potential corner-cutter in his religious observance as opposed to the person mentioned here who is not intending to cheat the poor on purpose)that  the mitzvot regarding mandatory gifts to the poor were placed amidst the section of the festivals in order to prevent a situation in which involvement with the festivals causes one to overlook the interests of the needy, either through sheer neglect or though an ideology that prioritizes the festivals over the needs of the poor.

 His mother’s name was Shlomis bas Divri (24:11) – Rashi notes that her name is mentioned as a praise to the Jewish nation to note that she alone was a Zonah. Rav Refoel Meiselish ztl. explains that the possuk prior notes that the young man went out and Rashi cites 2 opinions as to whether he went out from the section of Challah mentioned before (in that he was a non-believer that the Lechem HaPanim was meant to be a korban left out for 9 days) or whether he learned that he was not to receive rights as a tribal descendant of Dan. The reference of Shem Imo first is consistent with the rule that Tzaddikim their name comes before them except when the name attempts to use attempted Tzidkus in place of reality – just as by Lavan. Here too, she is rreferred to as Shem Imo Shlomis – but it means that she would be checking in on everyone – to see if her services were needed.

Haftorah: The children of Tzadok (Yechezkel 44:15) – Why does Yechezkel get special mention here as the patriarch of Kohanim? Why are they uniquely going to serve Hashem? The Dubno Maggid explains that this period in time was an extremely turbulent one for the Jews in general and the kohanim in particular. There were many who chose to serve Avodah Zara. Bnei Tzaddok stood up to the challenges. That is why they were rewarded – Heimah Yikrivu Eklai L’Sharteinee.