A Student Publication of the Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Shemini            25 Adar II 5763              March  29, 2003              Vol.12 No.24

In This Issue:

Rabbi Joel Grossman
Shuky Gross
Yair Manas
Halacha of the Week
Rabbi Chaim Jachter

This week’s issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by the Kol Torah staff
in honor of our Rabbeim who teach us Torah with much love here at Torah Academy.

Power of Silence

by Rabbi Joel Grossman

When Aharon heard the news that his two sons died, the Torah states his reaction as, “Vayidom Aharon,”  “Aharon was silent.”  Zelig Pliskin (in Growth Through Torah) asks why Aharon was praised so much for not complaining against Hashem after what happened to his sons, if we find in the Gemara (Brachot 60b) that Rabbi Akiva says, “All that Hashem does is for the best,” and in another Gemara (Taanit 21a), Nachum Ish Gam Zu used to say, “This, too, is for the best.”  The Mishna in Brachot says that, “We are obligated to bless Hashem for the bad just as we are obligated to bless Him for the good.”  All these cases in the Gemara show that saying something is better then not saying anything.  If this is true, then why was Aharon praised for his silence?
Zelig Pliskin answers that when a person says, “All that Hashem does is for the best” about something, which originally bothered him, it illustrates how he uses his intelligence to overcome his originally negative reaction.  An even higher level for a person, though, is to internalize the situation, knowing that all of Hashem’s actions are for the best, and therefore have no need to say anything.  Aharon remained silent since he understood this concept, that all that Hashem does is for the best.  The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem, the greater joy you will experience in your life.
The Shulchan Aruch writes in Hilchot Aveilut, that one is not allowed to speak to a mourner unless the mourner starts the conversation.  Once, many years ago, when the Rav was visiting a mourner, the mourner didn’t know this Halacha and was curious when the Rav sat silently for the entire visit.  When he got up to leave, the mourner said, “Your silence comforted me as I saw you felt my pain.”  The Gemara (Megilla 18a) teaches us that sometimes, if a word is worth a dollar, silence is worth two dollars.  We can learn even more from the silence of someone just as we can learn from their words.
This Shabbat is the fourth of the four special Parshiot, which are read before Purim and Pesach.  We have the privilege of reading Parshat Hachodesh for the Maftir from the second Sefer Torah.  What is the reason for this Mitzva Miderabanan?  The Gemara (Megilla 29b) teaches us that we want to read this Parsha before the month of Nissan arrives.  Parshat Hachodesh teaches us about the Mitzva of Hachodesh Hazeh Lachem, the very first Mitzva which was given to Klal Yisrael. 
The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 11a) says that in Nissan we were redeemed and it will be in Nissan that the future redemption will arrive. Let us hope that we can learn this lesson of “Vayidom Aharon” and therefore be privileged to see peace in the world and for our troops to come home safely.  Let this Nissan be what the Gemara is speaking about when it says that we will be redeemed.  Hopefully, we will be able to bring the Korban Pesach in the Bait Hamikdash and celebrate the upcoming holiday of Pesach properly.

It's Not What It Seems
by Shuky Gross

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Shemini, we learn of the death of Aharon’s two sons, Nadav and Avihu.  We then find out that Aharon’s other two sons, Mishael and Eltzafan, are ordered to remove their brothers’ remains from the Kodesh Hakadoshim.  By doing this, they would seemingly have obtained the status of being “Tamei Lamet.”
The Gemara in Succah (25a-b) delves into a discussion regarding a Halachich principle known as “Haosek Bimitzva Patur Min Hamitzva,” “One who is involved in one Mitzva is exempt from doing another Mitzva.”  The Gemara explains that this is derived from a Pasuk in Chumash which says, “Vayihi Anashim Asher Hayu Timayim Linefesh Adam,” “And there were men that became impure from a dead body” (Bamidbar 9:6), and were therefore unable to bring the Korban Pesach.  Who were these people?
The most obvious answer is that these people were the people that were in charge of carrying Yosef’s coffin from Mitzrayim to Eretz Yisrael.  A second answer offered by Rabbi Akiva suggests that these people were in fact Mishael and Eltzafan.  Logically, though, both the coffin bearers and Aharon’s sons could not be these Tamei people, since from the time they became Tamei until it was time to bring the Korban Pesach, they would have had ample time to perform the procedure of becoming Tahor, pure.  The only possibility then as to who these people were, is that they were regular people involved with the Chevra Kadisha.  However, after learning this, our original question of whether or not Mishael and Eltzafan became Tamei by removing their brother’s remains still remains.
To answer this question, we must look at Tosafot (Succah 25b, s.v. Mishael Vieltzafan Hayu), who quotes the Torat Kohanim which says that Nadav and Avihu’s bodies were burned, as the text says.  If so, Mishael and Eltzafan would not have become Tamei, since one cannot become Tamei from coming in contact with ashes.  Therefore, in theory, if Nadav and Avihu died on Erev Pesach, which would not leave the necessary seven days of Tahara in order to bring the Korban Pesach, they would not be considered Tamei and would still be allowed to bring the Korban Pesach. Even if you do not subscribe to this theory, and argue as Tosafot does, that they were burned only on the inside, which would leave their outer body intact, there were more than the necessary seven days to become Tahor and bring the Korban Pesach.  To further support this view, if they were completely burned to only ashes then the Chumash could not possibly say, “Vayisaum Bichutanotam,” “They carried them out by their tunics,” (Shemini 10:5).

-Adapted from shiur given by Rabbi Chaim Jachter at TABC

Honesty and Fire
by Yair Manas

After Aharon and his sons completed the seven days of required sacrifices and the dedication of the Mishkan, Hashem did not bestow His Presence upon the Mishkan.  Aharon was worried that his involvement with the sin of the Golden Calf deemed his service unworthy of Hashem’s Presence to descend upon the Mishkan.  Aharon relayed his concerns to his brother Moshe.  Moshe immediately entered the Mishkan with Aharon and prayed to Hashem for mercy.  A fire from heaven then descended and consumed the offerings on the Altar.  From this episode we catch a glimpse of Aharon’s untarnished character.  Aharon did not point, accuse, or blame anyone else but himself for the absence of Hashem’s presence.  Aharon did not take the easy way out by faulting others.  Rather, he recognized that it was due to his own shortcomings and not anyone else’s that prevented what the entire nation was eagerly waiting for, the arrival of Hashem’s Holy Presence.
The Torah then tells us that after the Heavenly fire finally descended from the sky on the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, the entire nation erupted in song.  At this point, the Jews had already been in the desert for almost a year.  They were exposed to miracles on a daily basis.  There was a spiritual cloud that directed them during the day, and a pillar of fire that replaced it at night.  Wasn’t that a display of Hashem's Presence?  Yet we find that the Jews yearned for Hashem’s Presence to descend upon the Mishkan.  Why weren’t they content with the miracles that they were constantly exposed to?  Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin explains that as they saw the Cloud of Glory each day, they became accustomed to it and yearned for more.  Therefore, at the site of this new display of Hashem’s Presence, the Jews deeply appreciated and rejoiced, since it showed that Hashem wanted to be close to them.
We learn two valuable lessons from this Parsha.  One should never take the easy way out and blame others.  Rather, one should recognize one’s own shortcomings and attempt to correct them.  Each day we are exposed to Hashem’s wonderful blessings and miracles.  Our challenge is to pay attention to them and express our thanks and feelings of gratitude to Hashem, as learnt from the song that the Jews sang after Hashem’s Holy Presence arrived in the Mishkan.

Halacha of the Week
One who does not understand Hebrew and counts the Omer in Hebrew has not fulfilled his obligation to count the Omer according to the Mishna Brura (489:5).  For an explanation of this view, see Teshuvot Divar Avraham (1:34) who explains that one cannot be described as counting if he does not understand the words he is saying (even though one may be described as praying even though he does not understand what he is saying).

Staff at time of publication:
Editor-in-Chief Emeritus: Josh Dubin
Editors-in-Chief: Shuky Gross, Effie Richmond
Publication Editors: Sam Wiseman, Jerry Karp
Publishing Manager: Ely Winkler
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