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Posted on June 7, 2002 (5758) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz

Volume XII, Number 27
13 Iyar 5758
May 9, 1998.

Sponsored by:

the Goodman family in memory of
Yehuda Zvi ben R’ Shlomo Halevi a”h

The Vogel family on the yahrzeit of
mother and grandmother
Bluma bat Shabtai Hakohen (Blanche Vogel) a”h

Acharei Mos – Kedoshim

This coming Thursday is Lag Ba’Omer – the 33rd day of the Omer. This day is significant in a number of ways, among them, that it is the yahrzeit of the Tanna/Sage of the mishnah, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

The gemara (Shabbat 33) relates that R’ Shimon was forced to hide in a cave for 12 years because he had criticized the Roman Empire. The gemara relates how R’ Shimon and his son studied Torah during that time, free of all material concerns. The gemara relates that when R’ Shimon was finally able to leave the cave, he was far more brilliant than he had been before. R’ Shimon himself told his son-in-law that he (R’ Shimon) was as great as he was only because of his experience in the cave.

R’ Elyakim Schlesinger shlita (a rosh yeshiva in London, England) observes that R’ Shimon was already among the leading sages before he fled to the cave. What aspect of the cave experience made him greater than he could have become otherwise?

R’ Schlesinger explains that being able to study Torah for 12 years with no interruptions, no material concerns, and no domestic or societal obligations made R’ Shimon what he was. If two people study Torah for the same number of minutes, but one does so without interruption and the other divides those minutes into several sessions, the former student will inevitably accomplish more.

Of course, R’ Schlesinger writes, we cannot study Torah all of the time without stop because we do have material concerns and domestic and societal obligations. Nevertheless, we can strive that the study periods which we do have should be uninterrupted. Also, even when we must leave the formal texts, we should try to continue our study sessions by reviewing in our minds what we have learned. (Bet Av: Parashat Emor)

“Aharon shall enter the Ohel Mo’ed/Tent of Meeting, he shall remove the linen vestments that he had worn when he entered the Sanctuary, and he shall leave them there.” (16:23)

Rashi writes (citing the gemara) that this verse is out of place. In the actual order of the Yom Kippur service, this verse should be placed at the very end of the service, perhaps after verse 33.

Then why is it here? asks R’ Avraham Danzig z”l (author of Chayei Adam; late 18th century). Also, when the Torah describes the Temple service for the other holidays, it mentions the holiday first and then describes the service. Here, the service is described in detail and the holiday (Yom Kippur) is mentioned only incidentally at the end. Why?

More questions: Why does the above verse say, “Aharon shall enter”? What of future high priests after Aharon? Also, the Torah’s description of the Yom Kippur service mentions a ram, which some sages say is the same ram mentioned in Bemidbar 29:8 as part of the Yom Kippur mussaf sacrifice. Why then is it mentioned here?

R’ Danzig explains: The midrash says that Aharon was different from all other high priests. Every other kohen gadol was allowed to enter the Kodesh Ha’kodashim/”Holy of Holies” only on Yom Kippur, but Aharon was permitted to enter whenever he wished. The only requirement was that he perform the service described in the parashah whenever he entered.

This, writes R’ Danzig in the name of the Vilna Gaon, answers the first question above. As applied to Aharon, our verse is not out of order. True, on Yom Kippur, this part of the service was performed at the end. The reason is that G-d had told Moshe (as a halachah l’Moshe mi’Sinai/part of the Oral Law) that the kohen gadol should change his clothes and immerse in the mikvah five times on Yom Kippur. (“Moving” this verse and changing its context has the effect of increasing the number of clothes changes and immersions.) However, when Aharon entered the Kodesh Ha’kodashim on other days, there was no such requirement.

Our other questions are answered by this idea as well, R’ Danzig writes. Our verse refers to “Aharon,” not to the “Kohen Gadol,” because our verse is in context for Aharon, but not for other High Priests, as just explained. Also, Yom Kippur is mentioned incidentally, because for Aharon, it was incidental. He could enter the Holy of Holies at any time. Finally, the ram from the korban mussaf is mentioned here to teach that not only on Yom Kippur must a ram be sacrificed, but any time Aharon wished to enter the Kodesh Ha’kodashim he had to sacrifice a ram.

(Appendix to Chochmat Adam)

“From all your sins, before Hashem shall you be cleansed.” (16:30)

When we read this verse in the Torah, we insert the Divine Name “A-D-N-Y” in place of the ineffable four letter Name. However, in some Yom Kippur machzorim, when this verse is recited as part of the mussaf “Avodah,” the word “Hashem”/”The Name” is inserted in place of the Divine Name. Why?

R’ Yitzchak ben Sheshet Perfet z”l (“Rivash” – see page 4) explains as follows: When we recite the Avodah, we are reporting what happened in the Bet Hamikdash on Yom Kippur. When the Kohen Gadol recited the above verse during that service, he uttered G- d’s Ineffable Name (the “Shem ha’meforash”); therefore, in order to accurately report what happened in the Temple, those machzorim relate that the Kohen Gadol said, “From all your sins, before The Name shall you be cleansed.” (In other words, they tell that he uttered “The Name.”)

In contrast, when we read the Torah, we are not telling a story. Accordingly, we simply do what we always do – we substitute the Name “A-D-N-Y” in place of the ineffable four letter Name.

Rivash writes, however, that his own teachers did not have the custom of the above machzorim. They recited our verse in the Avodah just as they did (and we do) in the Torah. In certain other places in the Avodah, however, they did use the expression “The Name” instead of uttering G-d’s Name. An example this is the phrase, “Ana Bashem” found in the Kohen Gadol’s vidui/confession.

(She’eilot U’teshuvot Rivash No. 219)

“You shall rebuke your fellow. . .” (19:17)

Knowing when to deliver rebuke is always a difficult task. The following story relates to this dilemma.

Rav Moshe Yosef Teitlebaum z”l was Rabbi of Zabarov. Once, during his derashah (sermon), he said, “You might wonder, `Who is this rabbi that he should rebuke us?’ Let me explain with a parable:

“There was a town which had a fire chief, whose job it was to sound the alarm whenever a fire broke out. Once, a visitor to the town saw a fire breaking out, and instead of notifying the fire chief, he sounded the alarm.

“The fire chief was very upset that his job had been usurped, but any right-minded person would laugh at this fire chief. When the fire is raging, every able-bodied person must rush to fight the blaze.

“So it is with me,” concluded Rav Teitlebaum. “When I see that the city is on fire, so-to-speak, I must do what I can to quell the flames.” (quoted in Tamar Yifrach)

R’ Yitzchak ben Sheshet Perfet a”h
(“Rivash”) born 1326 – died 1407

Rivash studied under R’ Peretz Hakohen, Rabbenu Nissim (“Ran”) and R’ Chisdai Crescas. Although he was recognized for his scholarship at a young age and actively participated in community affairs, Rivash earned his livelihood as a merchant. In 1367, he was arrested and imprisoned on false charges together with his brother; his teacher, Ran; and another sage.

After his release, Rivash accepted the position of rabbi of Saragossa; however, due to a rift in the community, he left Saragossa in favor of the less important city of Calatayud. When the communal leaders of Saragossa sought his pardon and begged him to stay, he consented, only to become frustrated by further community strife. Finally, he moved to Valencia, where he directed a yeshiva.

In 1391, Rivash fled massacres in Spain and settled in Algiers, where he was appointed rabbi. There, too, his peace was disturbed. One man, in particular, harassed Rivash; although Rivash ignored the man’s insults at first, he eventually excommunicated the man when the man asked the governor of Algiers to prevent a boatload of Marranos from docking.

Rivash was recognized as the leading rabbinical authority of his era, and his opinion, as reflected in his responsa, weighs heavily in later halachic decision making. From these responsa, it is evident that Rivash was familiar with philosophy, but he strongly opposed Aristotle’s approach. Rivash also strongly discouraged the study of kabbalah.

Rivash also authored a Torah commentary, and novellae on several tractates. Some of these are quoted in Shitah Mekubetzet to Masechet Ketubot. (Sources: The Artscroll Rishonim p.107; She’eilot U’teshuvot Rivash, No. 157)

Copyright © 1998 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.

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