Points to Ponder

Shimini 5777

And it was on the eighth day that Moshe called Aharon and his sons and all of the Zekanim (9:1)- The midrash explains that the Zekanim are compared to the wings of a bird. Why to a bird and why in the wings? Rabbi Akiva explained that in the same way that a bird cannot accomplish much without its wings, Bnei Yisrael cannot accomplish without its Zekanim. Rav Yitzchak Kaplan ztl. of Vilna explained that bird’s wings help the bird soar above the earth. The Zekanim help us set our mission above the mundane as well. We have the opportunity to soar spiritually as well but only if we rely on our wings. Rav Betzalel Rudinsky Shlita added that the wings of a bird can be clipped and the bird be totally unaware of the seriousness of the loss until it realizes that it is missing its wings. In the same way that a bird cannot fly without its wings, the Jewish populace needs to know that it cannot survive spiritually without its leaders.

This is what Hashem commanded you to do and the glory of Hashem will appear to you (9:6) – Rav Sabato Shlita notes that the word “zeh” reminds us that there is something you point to, a set prescription, to indicate the proper way to experience the glory of Hashem.  Short of it, going it a different way than planned by Hashem often brings an Eish Zarah and that could be deadly.

Come near the Mizbeiach (9:7) – Rashi explains that Aharon was too embarrassed to come close and Ramban adds that it was because of his personal involvement in the Eigel. Moshe told him to be strong and proud and perform the Avodah.  Why should Aharon stiffen up and come close? After all, are we not supposed to be humble? Rav Wolbe ztl. answers that when it comes to one’s Avodas Hashem, there is no room for excess humility. Moshe told Aharon that if he were chosen for that position then he was not ALLOWED to be humble and reject it. Rav Wolbe ztl. added that this is one of the secrets to successful learning of Mussar. Only one who knows himself has a right to challenge himself and improve his middos through Mussar.

And Aharon lifted his hands to the nation(9:22) – The Gemara discusses the concept of Duchanin and notes that we only have it after the offering of a Korban Tzibbur. Rashi comments that he said the three possukim of Yivareichicha, Yaer and Yisa. The commentaries ask that in the Beis HaMikdash they are recited as one Beracha not three? Rav Schachter Shlita explained in the name of Rav Herzog ztl. that prior to the arrival of the Shechina, the Mishkan was not considered like a Mikdash so the Berachos were treated as three. Rav Schachter explained that in the Beis Hamikdash there is a blending of Ruchniyus and Gashmiyus so the Beracha is one. In life we live in Gevulin – with separations between Ruchniyus and Gashmiyus but we should strive for more. 

And Aharon was silent (10:3) – The Sforno writes that Aharon accepted consolation in the fact that there was a Kiddush Hashem in their death. Rav Gifter ztl. explained that Aveilus is a time to become aware that a person can no longer be Mikdeish Hashem. However, if the death itself is a Kiddush Hashem, then one can state clearly that the Niftar’s purpose in life was achieved. Rav Gifter added that this is true for the family and thus they can accept Nechama. However, the rest of Am Yisrael need to cry for the Sraifa that existed – in losing two great Jewish leaders.

To distinguish between that which is Tamai and that which is Tahor (11:47) – Twice this week, we read of this concept of Havdala – not coming into the Mikdash Tamai and in regard to Kashrus. Why is the message repeated? Rav Belsky ztl. explained that there are a number of levels of existence expressed in the Kuzari. There is an additional level expressed called Segulas Yisrael. It is the part that guarantees that we live a life that is unique and spiritual. Those set aside to be involved exclusively in the Meleches Shomayim are also supposed to be involved in using the Seichel D’segulah at the most purest form. Hence, they are told not to drink and tamper with their seichel in order to maintain purity at all times.  Depending on where we are, determines how careful we need to be in preparing ourselves for the powerbolt that is Kedusha.

Haftorah: And Michal Bas Shaul never had children until the day she died (Melachim II: 7) – The Bavli (Sanhedrin 21) explains that she never had any MORE children until the day she died but that she had children previously. The Yirushalmi (Sukkah 5:4) suggests that she never had a child until the day of her death. Either way, how is one to understand the connection to her objections to Dovid HaMelech? How does the punishment fit the crime? Rav Sorotzkin ztl. explains that when one sees the  efforts that a parent goes to in order to make a child laugh or even stop crying – the cooing, the dancing, the funny faces -- all of which are out of character and otherwise “undignified” knows that the change in the parent’s demeanor are purely out of love for the child. One who gets that idea knows how much more we are required to go to be expressive of our love of Hashem and our special connection to Him.