Category Archives: Parshas Shemini

Parshas Shemini 5775

And fire went forth from before Hashem and consumed them (Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon), and they died before Hashem. (Vayikra 10/2)

On the possuk After the death of Aharon’s two children…” the Medrash comments, “(It is written in another possuk (Bamidbar 3/3)) ‘and they (Nodov and Avihu the sons of Aharon) didn’t have children’ (we can deduce from this that ) if they would have had children then those children would have been chosen before Eliezer and Itamar (to become Cohanim). (We learn from this, the Medrash continues) that whoever is first in line to inherit  is also first in line to take over the deceased’s position of honor (on condition,) that he fulfills the place of  the deceased (i.e. he keeps the mitzvos like his father did).

Zera Shimshon asks how does the Medrash deduce from the above possuk the condition that only an heir who fulfills the place of the deceased inherits his position of honor? Seemingly, we only see in the possuk that any son inherits his father position!

He answers this question in light of another seemingly difficult MedrashRebbi Yochanon in the name of Rebbi Levi said “Nadav and Avihu died because they didn’t have any children. Abba Channan said, ‘Because they weren’t married’. 

Zera Shimshon posits that Rebbi Yochanon cannot mean that being childless was the direct cause for their punishment. How can they be held responsible for something that is not in their hands?

Rather Rebbi Yochanon means that their being childless when they were alive was a result of their dying and that their dying was not a punishment at all! How is this?

The Medrash says that Dovid HaMelech prayed to Hashem that if his children will not go in the ways of Hashem and they will do things that will make Hashem angry, then Hashem should make him childless. In other words, Dovid’s love of Hashem was so great that he did not want to bring into this world children who would anger the Master of the World.  From this Medrash we learn that Hashem does a chessed with tzaddikim and, when Hashem sees that they will have “bad” children, then He makes them childless.

Therefore, Zera Shimshon explains, the direct cause of their death was, as Rashi explains in our parsha, in order to sanctify Hashem’s name. Hashem chose Nadav and Avihu to be the agents for this because of their greatness and not as a punishment. (Rashi explains that Moshe held that they were even greater than him and Aharon!) 

Moshe therefore reasoned that since Nadav and Avihu were such tzaddikim it must be that  the reason that they were childless was because Hashem knew that their children would not go in their righteous way. From this we can deduce that if they would have had children then these children would have been tzaddikim and they would have inherited Aharon’s position. 

The Medrash therefore deduces from this that only children who are great like their fathers inherit their position (e.g. the children of Nadav and Avihu if they would have children). However children who are not great like their father do not.

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Parshas Shemini

(Based on Zera Shimshon Shemini aleph pg. 17)

On the possuk (9/2) And you should take a calf the son of cow for a chattasRashi explains, “to show, by this calf, that Hashem forgave Aharon for the incident of the Golden Calf”.

Zera Shimshon asks HOW does the fact that Aharon brought a calf for his sin offering (chattos) show that Aharon was forgiven for his part in the Golden Calf?

He answers in light of the Gemorro in Rosh HaShona (26A) that explains that the reason that the Cohen Gadol doesn’t serve with gold garments on Yom Kippur is because “an accuser cannot be the defender”. Meaning, since the Golden Calf was made of gold (the accuser), one shouldn’t wear gold when asking pardon from Hashem (defender) .

Therefore, explains Zera Shimshon, the fact that Hashem commanded Aharon to bring a sin offering of a calf, which was obviously a major part of the sin of the Golden Calf, shows that he did not sin with the Golden Calf. (According to this explanation, the word “forgave Aharon” doesn’t mean that Aharon sinned and Hashem pardoned him but rather it means that Hashem determined that Aharon wasn’t considered to be a part of the sin)

It still has to be understood, though, why wasn’t Aharon held responsible for his part in the Golden Calf? After all he did build it for them!

One explanation Zera Shimshon gives is that Hashem didn’t consider Aharon’s part as integral. He merely caused it to be done.

In a second explanation Zera Shimshon goes one step farther. Aharon was not only not an integral part in that avairo but he actually had virtuous intentions and intended to do a mitzvah!

When Moshe came down from Har Sinai later than mistakingly expected, the people came to Aharon and asked him to build for them an idol.

Aharon reasoned that the request itself, independent of it being implemented or not, is already a thought of avodah zaro. As opposed to most sins that Hashem punishes only when we do a physical action, concerning worshipping Avodah Zora, Hashem punishes one even on the thought of it.

In such a bad state of mind, Aharon held that it would only be detrimental for Bnei Yisoel to recieve the Torah. The Torah cannot rest in such an environment (minds full of thoughts of Avodah Zora) and would cause us to do many many more sins.

Aharon was also of the opinion that even Moshe wouldn’t be able to help them repent.

Aharon understood that the people felt that since they didn’t DO anything wrong, (they only thought to worship the idol) then they would (mistakingly) feel that there is no reason for them to do teshuva.

Aharon therefore helped them to build the calf in order for them to realize how wrong they actually were and subsequently to do proper teshuva.

This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should find her zivug hagun soon along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel waiting to get married and build a family.

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