Category Archives: Parshas Emor

Parshas Emor 5775

On the first possuk in our Parsha the Medrash (Yalkut Shemoni) comments, “Rebbi Yehoshua of Sichnin in the name of Rebbi Levi said, ….Moshe said to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, the first king of Clal Yisroel (Shaul) will be stabbed to death with a sword!?” Hashem answered back, “Why are you criticizing me? Speak to the Kohanim whom he (Shaul) killed. They are the one who are prosecuting!”

Zera Shimshon asks why does the Medrash stress that Shaul was the FIRST king of Clal Yisroel? Why wouldn’t Moshe have been bewildered even if he was the second or third king?

His answer is based on two concepts. 

The meforshim write that the reason that Shaul, who was a descendent of  Binyamin, merited to be the first king because Binyamin was the only Tribe that didn’t bow down to Eisav (when Yaakov met him in Parshas VaYishlach). Because of this, Eisav had no power over him.

The second concept is found in another Medrash (Zohar Parshas Balak page 292/b). It is written  there that Hashem came to Eisav and offered him to accept the TorahEisav refused since it says in the Torah “You shall not murder” and this totally contradicts the blessing that Yitzchak blessed him, that he will live by the sword. 

After Eisav refused it, Hashem, so to speak, then asked him for advice on how H. can persuade Bnei Yisroel to accept it. Eisav answered that H. should give them a part of his beracha; that Clal Yisroel will be allowed to implement capital punishment. 

With these two ideas in mind Zera Shimshon explains the Medrash.

Moshe Rabeinu didn’t understand how it could be that Shaul be killed by a sword.  Shaul was chosen to be the first King of Yisroel because he didn’t bow to Eisav and therefore Eisav had no hold over him. Therefore, wondered Moshe, how could he be killed by a sword that is Eisav’s legacy?!

Hashem answered the sword was given to Clal Yisroel to be used in Beis Din. To simply kill though is not our lot, but Eisav’s. Therefore at the time Shaul killed the inhabitants of Nov the city of Kohanim he essentially stole Eisav’s legacy. Since he did this, then Eisav now had power over him (even though that his great grandfather, Binyamin, did not bow down to him). 

It is because of this that  the sword could have power over Shaul even though that he didn’t bow down to Eisav!
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Parshas Emor

(based on Zera Shimshon Parshas Emor pg. 59

Concerning the possuk “Speak to the Kohanim…” the Medrash comments, “The possuk (Tehillim 9/10) “The fear of Hashem is pure, it stands forever” is referring to this possuk (“Speak to the Kohanim…”). Rav Levi explained, “Through the fear that Aharon had of Hashem he merited that this parsha will be pertinent for him, his children, and his subsequent generation until the end of time… like it says “Speak to the Kohanim (the sons of Aharon) …” (Medrash Rabbah (26/6))

Zera Shimshon asks why does the possuk specifically mention that the Kohanim are the sons of Aharon? Isn’t this common knowledge that the children of Aharon are Kohanim?

Secondly, how does the possuk “The fear of Hashem is pure, it stands forever” explain the possuk “Speak to the Kohanim…”. They seem to be totally unrelated?

He answers that Aharon and subsequently all the Kohanim are like malachim with an intrinsic kedusha (holiness). Therefore one might think that if they defile that kedusha even one time (when they come in contact with a corpse) then the defilement would be terminal; they would remain tommai their whole lifetime.

It would also then follow that nowadays when there is no way for a Kohain to purify himself there would be no prohibition for a Kohain to become tommai since everyone is a tommai maiss today.

This however is not the case. We know that even today kohanim are commanded not to become tommai.

Why is this? Zera Shimshon explains that the participants in the incident of the Golden Calf are responsible that there is a prohibition for a Kohain to become tommai maiss (the tummah one gets by being in contact with a corpse)! Hashem abolished the Mallach HaMovess (Angel of Death) at the time of the Giving of the Torah. No Mallach HaMovess, no tummas mais.

However, after B’nai Yisroel worshipped the Golden Calf, Hashem brought back the Mallach HaMovess and with it tummas maiss. Therefore they who took part in the Goldern Calf are responsible that tummas maiss exists.

Aharon also took part in the Golden Calf however he feared Hashem and was embarrassed for what he did (Refer to Vayikra 9/7 Rashi and Ramban). The Gemorra tells us that Hashem forgives someone who is embarrassed of a sin that he did.

The Gemorra also tells us that one who does teshuva because of the love that he has for Hashem (and not only because he fears Hashem’s punishment) is so powerful that not only does Hashem forgive him for what he did , but that sin turns into a merit for him!

Aharon’s fear of Hashem was not only because of Hashem’s punishment but rather he feared Hashem’s greatness (yiras haromamus) and this , explains Zera Shimshon, is just like teshuva for the love of Hashem.

In light of the above, concludes Zera Shimshon, we can now understand the Medrash. The Medrash was bothered by why the Torah added the extra phrase “the sons of Aharon after calling them Kohanim. The answer is that it is to stress that this prohibition will be in force until the end of time.

But the Medrash is stilled bothered by why should this be? Why isn’t their kedusha defiled after being tommai one time and therefore it would not be applicable today.

The Medrash answers is that the embarrassment of Aharon stemmed from yiras Hashem of Aharon and was pure (yiras haromamus) and therefore the whole incident of the Golden Calf, which brought tummah into the world, was not only not held against him but is considered a merit for him!

Therefore tummas maiss cannot defile his intrinsic kedusha. It goes even farther. His teshuva (being embarrassed of what he did because of his fear of Hashem) was so powerful that it also weakened the power of tummas maiss to defile his future generations.

This then is the meaning of the possuk, “The fear of Hashem is pure (the fear of Aharon) it stands forever (even for his future generations)!