Points to Ponder

Shmini 5776

And it was on the 8th day (9:1) – The Midrash in Esther Rabba notes that all mentions of “VaYehi” are foreboding. What then, asks the midrash, about this VaYehi? The Midrash notes that this one was foreboding as well for it told of the death of Nadav and Avihu which led to the crying of all of the Jewish people . Rav Shaul Yisraeli ztl. pointed out that there are many different reasons as to why Nadav and Avihu died. The Tanchuma explains that they refused to marry. Another suggestion is that they wanted to know when Moshe and Aharon would die and they would take over. Others put the two ideas together – explaining that they placed themselves on the level of Moshe and Aharon and didn’t marry to be like Moshe. Rav Yisraeli ztl. explained that behind each of these answers is the understanding that they lack the personal confidence to be themselves and not to be someone else. Sinas Chinam comes from that lack of personal confidence. The logic is simple – the Sinas Chinam comes from everyone thinking that someone else has taken his place. Accordingly, the churban bayis sheni technically happened as a result of the sin of Nadav V’Avihu.

 And he said to Aharon take an eigel (9:2) – Why did Moshe tell Aharon to take the Eigel without preparation? Don’t we learn of the importance of preparing Korbanos from the Pesach and the Tamid that need Bikkur for 4 days a piece? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that the importance of continuity in Mitzva performance needs to be stressed here. Once the 7 days of Miluim passed, it was critical that Aharon not rest on his laurels but rather move onward and upward by running to grab the next Mitzva.  Thus, despite the benefits of waiting, Aharon was told Krav – come close and bring the Korban.

Come close to the Mizbeiach (9:7) – Rashi recounts the idea of Aharon needing to be encouraged by Moshe’s words. What were the words of encouragement that Moshe used to “bring Aharon”? He noted “Lekach nivcharta – for this you were chosen”.  What kind of encouragement was he offering?  Rav Yaakov Neuberger Shlita suggested that when Aharon came into the Mishkan all he saw was his culpability in the Eigel episode. He was ashamed and did not want to take the job. That’ why Moshe reminded him L’Kach Nivcharta – because of your Busha about the episode, that is precisely why you were chosen! Someone who wants the Kavod does not deserve it.

For today Hashem appears to you (4:6) – First the Possuk states that Hashem will appear no matter what and then there is a qualification (Zeh HaDavar). Why the change? Rav Yechezkel Abramsky  ztl. explained that the korbanos were not a precondition for the Shechina but rather a method for the Shechina’s arrival. Shechina’s presence is felt best in the actions we DO when we do them for the Shechina.

And Aharon was silent (10:3)- There is a strange Midrash Pliah that notes that he could have answered “V’BaYom HaShmini Yimol Bsar orlaso.” What does that have to do with anything?  Rav Yehoshua Leib Kutner ztl. explains that based on the Tanchuma’s  (Tazria 8) description of Rabbi Akiva’s debate with the evil Turnus Rufas we see that even matters of Maaseh Beraishis need the actions of man in order to improve them. If that is the case, perhaps Nadav and Avihu were correct in adding to the ceremony? However, this argument might have been valid only AFTER the Mishkan was consecrated. On the day of consecration , the inspiration was only to be from Shomayim and thus it was Asher Lo Tziva Osam.

And your brothers, all of Beis Yisrael shall mourn the burning that Hashem has destroyed (10:6) – The Torah does not tell us that Bnei Yisrael cried. And why does it say Yivku? The Beis Yisrael of Ger quoted the Sfas Emes who explained that at the time of the death perhaps not everyone cried because they did not fully grasp what was lost but in the future, the ost will be apparent. When Zimri sinned, the Zekanim were Bochim – crying – for in the immediate moment, they knew that they had experienced a major loss.

Anything that crawls on its front (11:42) – The Gemara determines that the Vav of Gachon is the center letter of the Torah. The gemara is not able to decide whether the Vav is in the front half or the back half since we are not Bekiyim in the Chaseros V’Yesairos. Rav Schachter Shlita noted that lest one think that this rule destroys our belief in the concept of Mesorah, this does not have to be exactly so.  The Minchas Chinuch explains that a mistake in a Sefer Torah means a misspelling but Moleh and Chaser might not correspond to the Mesorah but it is not Pasul. Pnei Yehoshua asks why the Gemara didn’t assume that there are an odd number of letters in the Torah. He answers citing the Zohar that there are 600000 letters of the Torah. Therefore it needed to be even.

Haftorah: (Parshas Parah) And they profaned my holy name when it was said of them this si the nation of Hashem and they left his land (Yechezkel 36: 20) – Why is Galus so terrible? Rav Soloveitchik ztl. pointed out that this is because Galus means Chillul Hashem. Nations of the world cannot profane Hashem’s name – when we are in exile, we do. When we are in Galus, Hashem is there too and his name is treated with contempt. When we recite Kinnos and mourn the Beis HaMikdash, we mourn Hashem’s great name that has been desecrated.