Points to Ponder

Emor 5778

He shall become Tamai for her (21:3) – Why? The Gemara suggests that this is part of the Mitzva of Kavod HaBriyos which Rav Schachter Shlita explained applies even after the death of a Jew. The Meiri in his introduction to Shas quotes a midrash that there is connection between Anochee and Lo Tirtzach on the luchos and the connection is one of Kavod HaBriyos. Sometimes Kavod HaBriyos lets us violate a Mitzva in the Torah. Kavod HaBriyos does not mean he will be embarrassed about being Jewish. Kavod HaBriyos means having the basic human dignity that a person is entitled to.

And I will be sanctified within the Bnei Yisrael (22:32) – Rav Zev Tzichchik (Toras Zev, Zevachim) comments that the proper way to sanctify Hashem is identified in a Tefillah we say each day – Kadeish Es Shimcha Al Makdeeshei Shimeicha – “Sanctify Your name by those who sanctify themselves by your name.” In other words – those who really believe in Hashem and hang on even when the natural means of hanging on seem impossible, are those who really create Kiddush Hashem. Their strong belief helps make a greater Kiddush Hashem.

And you shall count for yourselves (23:16) – There is a well known Chassidic (Chiddushei HaRim) and Mussar (See Lev Eliyahu) idea that the days of the Omer count parallel the 48 paths to wisdom mentioned in the 6th Perek of Pirkei Avos. However, the parallel is off by one. Both Chassidic & Mussar masters respond that the last day is the day for review. Doesn’t that seem like a forced explanation? Rav Asher Weiss Shlita pointed out that this is certainly not so. Divrei Torah are not like every other science that needs only the mastery of the intellectual. Rather, the words of Torah require one to put his heart and soul into it. No one greater than Moshe Rabbeinu needed to Daven and review in order not to forget Torah. The status of reviewing it and the 48 ways make our path to Torah commitment strong.

Just on the tenth day of the seventh month it will be Yom Kippur…a day of holiness for you (23:27) – What is meant by the additional word Ach? Ach usually means a limitation. Rashi explains that the day atones for those who return not for those who do not do Teshuvah. But, notes Rav Gifter ztl., that aspect of the day is not discussed here – rather in Achrei Mos. Ibn Ezra suggests that the day is a day of limitation of Simcha and Oneg of the mundane as it focuses on the spiritual joy instead. Rav Gifter adds that lest one think that this day is a day of a burden, it is not so. Yom Kippur is the day for OUR spiritual need and OUR benefit.

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day…and you shall rejoice with them in front of Hashem (23:40) – How does one know when the rejoicing of a situation is positive and within the boundaries of the law and when it is dangerous to Shimras HaMitzvos and the will of Hashem? Rav Dovid Lau Shlita suggested that when we look to the 4 Minim, we might get the hint. On the one hand, the Lulav and other Minim remind us of the harvest and the joy in the plentiful bounty. At the same time, they are a reminder of the need to have judgement on the winds and rains of the upcoming season. Rav Lau explained that adding to the rejoicing requires a parallel addition to the recognition that there is something and someone greater to look to. When we can do both – we have our concepts of Simcha correct.

They placed him in the prison (24:12) - Rashi comments that he was kept separate from the Mikosheish. Why indeed were they not placed together? Sefer Ikvei Erev notes that while they did not know what to do with the Migadef, they knew that the Mikosheish was to die and were just waiting to see how the death was to be carried out. In order not to be cruel by placing him “on death row” prematurely, Moshe separated him from the Mikosheish. Rav Yissocher Frand Shlita adds that we need to be impacted by the sensitivity displayed here when we consider that the Migadef was a person who committed the reprehensible sin of cursing Hashem’s name, which gave him no personal pleasure or benefit, and represented a premeditated rebellion against Hashem. If the Torah shows so much concern for the psychological welfare of a person who blasphemed Hashem, how much more so must we be considerate and understanding to the feelings of every Jew with whom we interact.

When a person places a blemish in his friend (24:19) – The Chovos HaLevavos explains that when we come to the day of Judgement and hear many things we are to be rewarded for, we will discover that he did not do these things. Similarly, there will be things we did do and will not receive reward for. In both cases it will be because we were, or did, denigrate our fellow man and the perpetrator will surrender his Zechusim to the victim. Rav Scheinerman explained that this is seen in our Possuk which declares that when a person places a blemish in (the character) of his neighbor, that which he tries to do shall happen to him (the Zechusim will move and he will be impoverished).

Haftorah - They shall instruct My people concerning [the difference] between holy and ordinary, and they shall inform them of [the difference] between contaminated and clean. Concerning a disagreement, they shall stand in judgment, and shall adjudicate them according to My laws." (Yechezkel 44:23-24)- Rav Avraham Rivlin Shlita often stressed that the primary role of the tribe of Levi was not in the service aspect of the job but rather in the role of serving as role models of Kedusha – means of serving as inspirations for the people in their lives to inspire for. The calling already began in Mitzrayim where the Leviim were offered a distinct status and even existed in the name Levi – which Leah used to bring Yaakov closer.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Why do we begin the Yom Tov reading with שור או כשב? What is its connection to Moadim?
  2. Why don’t we make a שהחיינו on Shabbos like we do for a Yom Tov? Especially according to Chizkuni and Rabbeinu Bachaya who see Shabbos as a Moed?