Tzav Pesach Shemini

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Tzav Pesach Shemini         10-24 Nisan 5762          March 23-April 6, 2002          Vol.11 No.23

In This Issue:

Sam Wiseman
Effie Richmond
Simcha Haber

Joshua E. Gross
Yoni Shenkman
Halacha of the Week

Rabbi Howard Jachter
-Chol Hamoed Observance in Modern Times

Lizecher Nishamat Avinu, Chaim Ben Tzvi Halevi (1 Nisan, Tuf-Shin-Nun-Gimel),
Viachoto, Sarah Bat Tzvi Halevi (17 Adar Tuf-Shin-Nun-Hey),
Vidodateinu Chai' Bt R' Oziel (8 Adar Tuf-Shin-Nun-Tet),
Miryam Bat Shmuel Tzvi (14 Nisan Tuf-Shin-Chuf-Zayin)


The Making of a Kohen Gadol
by Sam Wiseman

In this week's Parsha, the Torah describes the Kohanim becoming sanctified to Hashem. Starting with Perek 8, Hashem briefly tells Moshe what must be done to the Kohanim in order for their new status to be effected. After Hashem has described the ritual aspect of the sanctification, He tells Moshe (in Pasuk 3) to gather Kol Haeidah, "all of the nation, to the entrance of the Ohel Moed, so that they may watch the proceedings. The next Pasuk tells us that Moshe did everything Hashem told him to do and that the entire nation gathered in the entrance to the Ohel Moed.

These two Pesukim are very perplexing, as it is hard to imagine all of Klal Yisrael fitting into the entrance to the Ohel Moed; there simply was not enough room. In explaining this Pasuk, there are two main schools of thought. One is that of the Midrash quoted by Rashi and others, which says that this was one of the times that a "Mameet Machazik Merubeh," a small area, which should not have been able to accommodate such a large mass of people, was able to, for a short and miraculous instance. This Midrash goes hand in hand with another Midrash, which explains that the reason that all of Klal Yisrael had to be there was so that they would appreciate the holiness of the Kohanim and treat them accordingly.

The other school of thought, that of Ibn Ezra, believes that when the Torah said "Kol Haeidah," it was actually only referring to the elders and the heads of each Shevet. The Torah Temima explains that according to the Ibn Ezra, this Pasuk describes the actual Halachic appointment, Minuy, of the Kohen Gadol. The Torah Temima quotes a Gemara in Sanhedrin, which says that the Kohen Gadol may only be appointed by the Sanhedrin of seventy-one (men). He then quotes a Yerushalmi in Sanhedrin, which says that in the time of Moshe the elders and the heads of the Shevatim were in place of the Sanhedrin of seventy-one. Therefore, according to the Ibn Ezra, only the elders and tribal leaders were there because this Pasuk describes the Halachic appointment of the Kohen Gadol and consequently there is no problem of all of Klal Yisrael squeezing into a tight space.

There is a Halacha (Sanhedrin 2a) that a king must receive Minuy, appointment by the Sanhedrin of seventy-one, just as a Kohen Gadol must. However, if the son of a king becomes king he need not go through the Minuy process, while the son of a Kohen Gadol does have to go through the "Minuy" process when he becomes Kohen Gadol. Rav Soloveitchik zt"l explained these Halachot in the following manner: When a king dies, his son inherits the kingship in its entirety, and therefore only the first king in a dynasty must go through Minuy. However, with respect to a Kohen Gadol, dies, his son only inherits the Zechut, merit to be a Kohen Gadol, but he never actually becomes a Kohen Gadol until he is halachically appointed by the Sanhedrin.

One can see from this that there are two important criteria necessary to becoming a Kohen Gadol, Zechut and Minuy, and each criterion must come from a separate source. In this light, the Machloket between Ibn Ezra and the Midrashim becomes a little clearer. They seem to be arguing about what type of appointment the Kohanim are receiving; are they receiving the Zechut appointment, or are they receiving the Minuy appointment. According the Midrashim, since the Kohanim never received the Zechut to be Kohanim to begin with, it makes sense that they would need Hashem to give them this Zechut in front of all of Klal Yisrael before they could be appointed. According to Ibn Ezra, an actual Halachic appointment is the critical element, and is what is happening here. This line of thinking however, is somewhat problematic, these two criteria should be indispensable for both lines of thinking; it is impossible to imagine the Kohanim becoming completely sanctified without both a Zechut or Minuy. Therefore, the Machloket can best be understood as an argument over what point in time these Pesukim record, not as a Machloket regarding how the Kohanim were appointed. According to Midrashim, these Pesukim record the point in time in which the Kohanim were given their Zechut and according to Ibn Ezra, these Pesukim are talking about a later time when the Kohanim become fully sanctified. A proof for this idea, is the fact that Rashi understands this whole section that has just been discussed as being chronologically out of place, and that these events really happened before the Mishkan was built. Therefore it would make sense that at that point the Kohanim only needed the Zechut aspect of their sanctification. Ibn Ezra who makes no such comment, is content to understand these Pesukim as referring to Minuy.

Retelling the Exodus-
A Preparation for Matzah

by Effie Richmond

It is generally forbidden to have a lengthy interruption between Kiddush and the eating of the meal. The rule is "Kiddush may not be made except in the place where the meal is eaten" (Pesachim 101a), and it applies to proximity in time as well as place. Why then is an exception made at the Seder, when the meal is not begun until an hour or two after Kiddush?

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l explained that the Haggadah should not be seen as an interruption, but rather as an extension of the meal. In order to eat the Matza and Maror, a person must first reach a certain level of spirituality and mental preparedness regarding what he is about to do. "In every generation a person must consider himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt" (Pesachim 116b). the purpose of reciting the Haggadah is to build up to the climax of eating the Pesach foods. Thus, far from being an interruption before the meal, the Haggadah is itself the preparation for, and the beginning of, the meal.

R' Shlomo Zalman also pointed out several other indications of this fact. The Matza is broken almost immediately after Kiddush, long before the Beracha is to be recited over it. Why is this done? Would it not be more logical to break the Matza just before it was eaten (as is, the fact, the Rambam's opinion)? The answer is that it is broken as we begin reciting the Haggadah to indicate that the Haggadah itself is, as we have explained, in reality a prelude to the eating of the Matza. Furthermore, R' Shlomo Zalman concluded, our explanation also accounts for why Al Hagefen, the blessing after the wine, is not recited after Kiddush, as it is recited whenever one drinks wine and does not immediately eat a meal. Here too the meal actually begins immediately after Kiddush with the recitation of the Haggadah.

The Making of Charoset

by Simcha Haber

In Mishnayot Pesachim (114a), while explaining the order of what should be brought before the leader of the Seder, the Mishna says, "Matza, Maror, Charoset and two cooked items, even though Charoset is not a Mitzva (and is only used to make eating the Maror more bearable and healthy). Rabbi Eliezer Ben Tzaddok holds that it is a Mitzva. The obvious question is, is Charoset a Mitzva or not?

Rabbi Eliezer ben Tzaddok in the Gemara (Pesachim 116a) proves his opinion that Charoset is a Mitzva by telling us that the shopkeepers of Jerusalem used to call out, "Come get spices for the Mitzva (of Charoset)." This shows us that the Charoset is a Mitzva. Tosafot ask, "How can we learn that it is a mitzvah based on what the shopkeepers used to call out? How can we make a Halacha based on them?" They answer that we are learning it this way because the story shows that the fact that Charoset was a Mitzva was such common knowledge that even the shopkeepers knew about it (Brachot 43a and Eiruvin 14b).
In the Gemara (ibid.) there is an argument over the reason for Charoset. Rabbi Levi says that it is in commemoration of the apples.
The Rashbam, in explaining Rabbi Levi, explains from the Gemara in Sota that records that the Jewish women in Mitzrayim (due to Paroh's decree) were not allowed to have baby boys, they would go into the apple orchards and, through a miracle, were able to have an easy (and noiseless) childbirth there. Rabbi Yochanan offers another reason for Charoset. He suggests that Charoset is in commemoration of the mortar that the Jewish people were forced to build with when they were slaves in Mitzrayim. The Gemara then cites is a Braisa that seems to prove that Rabbi Yochanan is correct. It says, "the spices are as a remembrance for the straw and the Charoset is a remembrance of the mortar." According to this Braisa, we also have a new ingredient to add to our Charoset, the spices. We are supposed to use spices like cinnamon that are long and stringy to remind us of the straw that we collected as slaves.

Tosafot (ibid.) says that the Talmud Yerushalmi mentions another purpose for Charoset. It is in commemoration of blood. There is a Midrash that says that Paroh had leprosy, killed 300 Jewish babies, and bathed in bathed in their blood to cure himself. The practice to add red wine to our Charoset comes from, the need to remember the blood (the wine has a red color like blood). Tosafot citing the Teshuvot Hageonim notes that in Shir Hashirim, Shlomo Hamelech compares Am Yisrael to many fruit, one of which is Shkadim, almonds. This word has the same root as Shakad "faster." He mentions Shkadim because Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim faster than He was supposed to. Rather than following the original plan of 400 years, Hashem took us out of bondage in 210 years. As a commemoration to this great deed almonds get added into the Charoset.

How about adding clay into our Charoset? That is what a 13th century Italian Rav did. Why? He felt it would help to commemorate the mortar even more by having the actual substance within the Charoset. However, the Maharam de Delonzano, a late 16th century Rabbi (who wrote Shtei Yadus and Yad Ani) insisted that this was foolish. He asks, "Do these people wound themselves on Purim to remind themselves of Haman's decree to wipe out the Jewish people?"

Hopefully now that we have a greater understanding of the various ingredients in the Charoset, this aspect of the Seder will have more meaning to each of us as we partake in this year's Seder.



Kiss of Death
by Joshua E. Gross

In this week's Parsha, Parshat Shemini, the Torah states "And a fire came forth from before Hashem and consumed them, and they died before Hashem" (10:2). In the Pasuk, "them" is referring to Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, who were consumed by fire and killed. But why were Nadav and Avihu killed?

Rashi quotes Rabbi Eliezer who says that Nadav and Avihu were killed because they rendered a Halachic decision in the presence of Moshe, their teacher. Rashi also quotes Rabbi Yishmael who gives a different answer. He says that Nadav and Avihu died because they entered the Azara while intoxicated. The Torah hints at this by Hashem's warning the rest of the Kohanim, only a few Pesukim later, not to enter the Azara while intoxicated (10:9).

The Ramban, contrary to Rashi's opinion, says that the mere fact that Nadav and Avihu did not have the proper Kavana when they brought the Ketoret was enough to cause Hashem to kill them. Ramban cites the story of Korach as a proof to his opinion. When Korach and his gathering challenged Moshe, they were instructed to bring the Ketoret, the same Korban that Nadav and Avihu brought, along with Moshe to see whose Korban Hashem would accept. As we know, Moshe's Korban was accepted and Korach's was rejected, due to Korach's lack of proper Kavana.

The Gemara (Bava Metzia 59b) presents the following story, which illustrates Ramban's concept of proper Kavana.
Rabban Gamliel, who was the head of the Bait Din at that time, excommunicated Rabbi Eliezer, who happened to be his brother-in-law. Since Rabbi Eliezer was put in Cherem (excommunication), he was forced to Daven alone at home until the ban was lifted. When Rabbi Eliezer's wife found out about this, she tried to stop her husband from reciting Tachanun every morning, since she knew that with the proper Kavana a request made during Tachanun by her husband would be fulfilled by Hashem. She feared that while reciting Tachanun, her husband would become upset at Rabban Gamliel and wish that he would die.
Consequently, Rabbi Eliezer's wife found a daily excuse to disrupt him while he was reciting Tachanun, not allowing him to have proper Kavana. This went on until one day when Rabbi Eliezer's wife thought it was Rosh Chodesh, a day when we do not say Tachanun, and therefore did not come in to disrupt her husband's Kavana. However, she erred in her calculations and it was in fact not Rosh Chodesh, and so Rabbi Eliezer davened Tachanun with full Kavana. Because of Rabbi Eliezer's wife miscalculation, her brother Rabban Gamliel passed away the next day.

We see from this story of Rabbi Eliezer and the story of Nadav and Avihu in this week's Parsha how important it is to have proper Kavana when serving Hashem. The one day that Rabbi Eliezer was able to have his desired Kavana he used it in the wrong way, resulting in the death of Rabban Gamliel. Similarly, Nadav and Avihu's misplaced Kavana while bringing the Ketoret resulted in their own deaths. We should learn to properly control our Kavana to have our Tefilot granted by Hashem.

Silence is Golden
by Yoni Shenkman

When Aharon's two sons died, the Torah reports his reaction; "And Aharon was silent" (Vayikra 10:3). How is it possible that Aharon was silent? What was going through his mind? Rabbi Moshe HaCohen Rice writes in Ohr HaMussar: Aharon was greatly praised for remaining silent - for not complaining against Hashem and for accepting His will. Why? Before something happens, one might be able to take action to prevent it. However, afterwards, what can one do? He can fight it or he can accept it as the will of Hashem. Was his acceptance of the Almighty's will exceptional or unique? The Sages constantly worked on accepting the will of Hashem. Rabbi Akiva always used to say when something apparently negative happened, "All that Hashem does is for the good." Nochum Ish Gam Zu used to say, "This, too, is for the good." ("Ish Gam Zu" means "the man who says (no matter what happens) 'this, too, is for the good.'") However, when a person says, "All that Hashem does is for the good" about something that originally disturbed or frustrated him, it implies that at first he was bothered by what happened. As soon as he realized that the matter bothered him, he used his intellect to overcome his negative reaction. Intellectually, he knows that all that Hashem causes to occur is ultimately for the good and this knowledge enables him to accept the situation. An even higher level is to internalize the concept that whatever Hashem does is positive and good. When this is a person's automatic evaluation of every occurrence, he does not have to keep convincing himself that a specific event is good. Such a person accepts with joy everything that occurs in his life. This was the greatness of Aharon. He remained silent because he knew clearly that everything Hashem does is purposeful. When things consistently go well for a person, he feels an inner-joy. Acceptance of Hashem's will is the most crucial attitude to make part of oneself for living a happy life. The more you learn to accept the will of Hashem, the greater joy you will experience in your life!

Halacha of the Week
Although Chazal forbade washing clothes on Chol Hamoed, Rav Moshe permits placing water on a garment to clean a small stain on Chol Hamoed (Chol Hamoed p. 34 in the Hebrew section). Of course, one may not do this on Shabbat or Yom Tov even if the garment will be ruined if one fails to put water on the stain immediately (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim chapter 302).

Staff at time of publication:
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Staff: Noam Block, Etan Ehrenfeld, Ami Friedman, Yehuda Goldin, Shuky Gross, Simcha Haber, Oren Levy, Ari Michael, Effie Richmond, Dani Shaffren, Sam Wiseman
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