Points to Ponder

Achrei Mos/Kedoshim 5775

And he shall atone for himself and for his home (16:6) – Rashi cites the Talmud (Yoma 36a) who notes that the atonement here refers to the recitation of Vidui. Why is Vidui referred to as Kappara if it is merely a part of the Kappara process. This is even more perplexing when we consider the fact that the Saeir La’Azazel has a Vidui recited upon it and that time it is referred to as “Vidui”? Rav Nissan Alpert ztl. suggested that the entirety of the 2 Seirim is based on the concept that life presents 2 sets of almost identical choices before us. On the surface they appear almost identical however, as the year and time play out, the choices are as different as life and death itself. We are powerless to control the lot in life – as symbolized by the Goral. When we get that idea into our minds and being , that brings us to Kappara.  For the Seir l’Hashem, the words are the kappara. For the one LaAzazel, the outside needs to change first – bringing the idea to the inside fully.

And Aharon should come (16:23) – This final step of entering the Kodesh HaKodoshim seems to be unnecessary. The Chizkuni asks why do the ketores utensils need to be removed by the Kohein Gadol? Let next year’s Kohein Gadol remove the stuff? The Nofes Tzufim explains that it is not superfluous but rather an insult to leave a mess in the Kodesh Kodoshim. The gemara (Shabbos 47a) notes the same in regard to clearing certain Keilim on Shabbos.

And you should live by them (18:5) – Rav Shmuel Eliezer Stern Shlita once noted that we do not recite the Beracha of Shomer Amo Yisrael La’Ad on Friday nights because Shabbos does not need Shmirah. Shabbos itself is supposed to provide the protection for us. This is somewhat problematic , he noted because in the same Beracha we ask Hashem to protect us when we enter and leave. Why then do we not assume that Shabbos will protect us? He answers that Shabbos can only protect when we allow a sense of calm to pervade in the general atmosphere but in the entrance and exit from Shabbos, we tend to be rushing and this can be dangerous – especially with cars – and it requires shmirah from Hashem. Rav Wolbe ztl. would often point out that when rubbernecking an accident, one needs to think like the situation with the Sotah (Kol HaRoeh Sotah B’Kilkulah Yazir Atzmo min HaYayin) and in this case one needs to be reminded to obey all traffic laws.

Parshas Kedoshim (19:2) – Rav Aharon Lichtenstein ztl. would point out that this Mitzva introduces many disparate ideas in the Parsha. The commonality between idol worship, stressed here more than once and the idea of taking revenge which is stressed here seems to be in the general theme of Kedoshim Teheeyu. The Rambam notes that both violations are Hevel. Rav Aharon explains that even if intellectually there could be a case made for idol worship or emotionally a purpose for revenge – they remain forbidden.  For what overrides the specific detail of the Mitzva is an overriding responsibility to be with Hashem and his plan intellectually and morally.

You should be Kedoshim (19:2) – The Torah notes the mitzvah to be Kedoshim which is written without a Vov while recognizing the idea that Hashem is Kadosh which is written Moleh. Why?  Rav Schachter Shlita cites the Sifrei who explains that the idea expressed herein is that we should not, and cannot be on the same level of Kedusha as Hashem. His Kedusha is Moleh while ours is Chaser. What are the Rabbonim of the Sifrei suggesting? Rav Schachter offered an insight from Rav Shimon Shkop ztl. who, in his introduction to Shaarei Yoshor suggested that we need to define our community as an extension of ourselves. True altruistic Chessed is for Hashem. However, when we see the world as extensions of ourselves, we strive harder to do for the other successfully.

Don’t curse the deaf-mute (19:4) – Why the stress on the Cheireish? Rashi explains that the Cheireish is still alive and therefore one cannot curse at him – even though he cannot presently hear. Rav Zevin ztl. explains that as long as he is alive, there is still hope for the Cheireish. There is a chance that a cure might be found and therefore do not curse – lest it come back to bite you.

Don’t hate your friend in your heart, reproof him and do not hold it against him (19:17) – The Riyatz of Chabad would often note that if the reproof does not work, it must be YOUR efforts that are to blamefor your reproof must not have come from the heart.