Parshat Emor Vol.9 No.29

Date of issue: 8 Iyar 5760 -- May 13, 2000

This week’s issue has been sponsored 
by the family of
Chaja Lieberman (Chaya bat Rav Uziel)
on her first Yahrtzeit, 8 Iyar.

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This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Steven Prebor
Yair Manas
Yechiel Shaffer
Eliezer Shaffren
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-*Shmittah 5761 - Part I*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *Dani Gross*

Remembering to Forget
by Rabbi Steven Prebor

Right in the middle of Parshat Hamoadim, we see the following words: Ubekutzrichem Et Ketzir Artzechem Lo Techaleh Pe'at Sadcha Bekutzrecha Vileket Ketzircha Lo Telakait Le'ani Velagair Taaov Otam, “When you reap the harvest of your field you should not completely remove the corner of your field as you reap and you shall not gather the gleanings of your harvest; for the poor and the convert you shall leave them” (Vayikra 23:22).

Two questions must be asked immediately. First, this Pasuk is talking about the Mitzvot of Peah, Leket, and Shichicha, which require farmers in Eretz Yisrael to leave a portion of the harvest in their fields for poor people to glean. These Mitzvot, however, were mentioned a few Perakim earlier in 19:9-10. Why do we need this repetition? Second, this Pasuk seems to be out of place. How are these Mitzvot connected to the Moadim?
Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Ramban all deal with this problem. Rashi quotes a Sifra that says that this was placed in the middle of Parshat Hamoadim in order to give the message that anyone who does these Mitzvot properly is considered as if he built the Bait Hamikdash and offered all of its Korbanot. (This connection to Korbanot is presumably based on the fact that the Parshat Hamoadim mentions Korbanot in relation to each Chag.) Ibn Ezra points out that these Mitzvot are placed immediately after Shavuot, which is associated with harvesting in the agricultural cycle. We are therefore reminded that our harvest should be done with these Mitzvot in mind. The Ramban focuses on the use of the word Katzir (harvest) in this Pasuk. That Shoresh is used four times in the Pasuk. Earlier in this section, in Pasuk 10, this word is used three times. That Pasuk was talking about bringing the Korban HaOmer on the second day of Pesach. That Korban, of course, begins a process that ends with Shavuot. The Ramban therefore claims that the Torah, upon completion of the discussion of that process, mentions these three Mitzvot, reminding us that when we start the process by harvesting barley for the Korban HaOmer, we must be careful to observe the Mitzvot of Peah, Leket, and Shichicha.

A careful analysis of the Parshat Hamoadim may lead us to an alternate answer to these questions. Clearly, the agricultural cycle is a primary focus of Parshat Hamoadim. Starting with the harvest of barley at Pesach, moving to the harvest of wheat and other crops at Shavuot, and finally to the ingathering of the crops at Sukkot, there a theme of freedom and opportunity emerges as more and more crops become available to the farmer. The Mitzvot associated with the Chagim in Parshat Hamoadim are therefore designed to temper this freedom and make sure that it is properly focused. In fact, it seems that every time an opportunity arises, there is a preexisting Issur or limitation.

The first example of this is with Pesach. Prior to Pesach, new grain, Chadash, cannot be used (see 23:14). The Korban HaOmer, brought on the second day of Pesach, permits us to consume the new grain. However, when we are presented with that freedom, the Issur of Chametz has already been in effect for a day. Similarly, the freedom and opportunity provided by the harvest of wheat and other crops is associated with Shavuot, which is also the beginning of the Zman Bikurim. Perhaps the Torah brings the Mitzvot of Peah, Leket, and Shichicha, at this point to remind us of this preexisting limitation on our freedom to harvest. Continuing along these lines, Sukkot, associated with the gathering of the crops from the field (see Shemot 23:16), provides limitations on our freedom by requiring us to eat these crops in a Succah and to wave four species of vegetation as a sign of devotion to Hashem.

We can now see how the Mitzvot of Peah Leket, and Shichicha, can assume a central role in the message inherent in the message of the Shalosh Regalim. The Shalosh Regalim teach us that the Torah does not tell us to avoid prosperity and abundance. We are, however, provided with methods of showing an appropriate commitment to Hashem and to other people through these limitations on our freedom.

Always Be Prepared
by Yair Manas

22:32 says, Velo Techalilu Et Shaim Kadshi Venikdashti Betoch Bnai Yisrael, “You shall not desecrate My holy Name, and I will be sanctified among Bnai Yisrael.” This Pasuk contains the solemn warning against profaning Hashem’s Name and the positive commandment upon every Jew to sanctify His Name through moral conduct and, if necessary, through death. Although this is spoken in reference to the Kohanim, this command applies to the entire nation.

The Sages say that one should be aware of his actions so he does not do anything to tarnish the honor of Judaism or the Jewish People. In his Mishna Torah, the Rambam describes in detail the main applications of this law to daily life. Specifically, every wrongful action against a non-Jew is considered an unforgivable sin because it creates a false impression of Judaism’s moral standards. Every Jew must constantly be aware that the glory of Hashem is entrusted to him and that he holds in his hands the honor of his religion and his people.
To not desecrate Hashem’s Name is not only a negative Mitzva. The word Venikdashti teaches us that every Jew must live in such a way that his acts contribute to the glory of Hashem’s holy Name and His Torah in a positive way.

The Gemara mentions many examples of humanity and integrity toward Jews and non-Jews that are considered acts of Kiddush Hashem. The highest form of this Mitzva is martyrdom. Jewish law requires every Jew to give up his life rather than desecrate the Name of Hashem in public. During the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s persecution of the Jews, the readiness for martyrdom began to endanger the existence of the Jewish nation. The sages decreed that a Jew should die only if he is forced to violate these three fundamental laws: murder, idolatry, or forbidden sexual relationships.

The words Betoch Bnai Yisrael teach us that it is even more important to sanctify the name of Hashem among Bnai Yisrael. Rashi deduces from this that the obligation to die for Hashem’s Name for Mitzvot other than these three comes into effect when the threatened desecration is in public, among Bnai Yisrael. Rashi also points out that in risking martyrdom, a person should be fully prepared for death. When Yitzchak was on the altar, he prayed to Hashem to enable him to submit to martyrdom without weakness, regret, or hesitation. We should have Yitzchak’s mindset when we perform Kiddush Hashem, whether in life or, Chas Veshalom, in death.

It and Its Young
by Yechiel Shaffer

In this week's Parsha (22:28), we are told not to slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day. This prohibition applies not only to animals that are to be brought as offerings but also to other animals that will be eaten. It is a matter of discussion as to whether or not this commandment applies to the father as well as the mother. Why shouldn't “it and its young” be slaughtered on one day? How does adhering to this precept make one a better person?

The consensus of the Meforshim seems to be that this is one of many commandments meant to teach us sensitivity and compassion. Other Mitzvot in this category are not cooking a kid in its mother's milk and chasing away a mother bird before disturbing her nest. How do these commandments teach us sensitivity and compassion? They all deal with the relationship between a mother and her offspring, the closest relationship that exists in the animal world. (This is why, despite the use of the masculine noun, Oto, it is debatable whether the Mitzva in this week's Parsha applies to a father or not.)

Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch says that the essence of the animal is the selfishness that pervades all of its relationships; the exception to this is the relationship between a mother animal and her young. In this case, the mother exhibits selflessness and a willingness to sacrifice for others. This care displayed by a female animal for her young is the closest an animal ever comes to humanity. Thus, when we are about to eat an animal, to make that animal a part of us, we make sure to keep in mind the kindness inherent in that animal by not killing the mother and the child on the same day. By remembering that such a relationship can exist between animals, we remind ourselves of our capacity for selflessness and willingness to help and protect others. If we are commanded to be so careful about our treatment of animals that one is about to slaughter, how much more so should we be sensitive in our treatment of others?

Along the same lines, there are many Halachot in addition to those mentioned above that provide for the kind treatment of animals. Their purpose is to teach us compassion. Hashem, in order to guide us away from cruelty and teach us kindness, has given us many laws regarding the proper treatment of animals. Through these laws we learn to be sensitive to the needs of animals and treat them with compassion and kindness. If we have to behave this way toward animals, we must behave this way toward each other. In addition, through acting in a kind and compassionate manner toward animals, we strengthen our Midot of kindness and compassion, thereby making those Midot a greater part of our nature and making it easier for us to behave in an appropriate manner toward our fellow human beings. So, not killing an animal and its child on the same day really does make one a better person.

Judge a Kohen by His Cover
by Eliezer Shaffren

The Torah lists many types of blemishes that render a Kohen impure to bring a Korban. The question arises as to why physical defects make a Kohen Pasul from bringing a Korban if it does not seem to affect anything spiritually. Rabbi Elie Munk cites a range of answers to this question:

Rashi quotes Malachi who challenges the people to bring blemished and crippled animals to their Ruler as a gift and see how He likes it. Rashi deduces from here that just as bringing blemished animals shows a lack of respect, the same principle would apply if the foremost servants in the Bait Hamikdash had a blemish.

In contrast to Rashi, the Rambam focuses on the perspective of the people and not on God. He says that public opinion judges a man not based on his true value but on the perfection of his limbs and the beauty of his clothing. If the Kohen as unblemished, it would ensure that the Bait Hamikdash would be revered by all. It is for this reason that the Leviim would be allowed to work in the Bait Hamikdash if they had the same defects that would render a Kohen Pasul. They did not offer sacrifices and were not considered agents in asking forgiveness for sins. Rather, they provide vocal music and therefore were rendered Pasul only if they lost their voice.

Ramban differs from the rationalist approach of the Rambam and says that a Kohen is Pasul if he has physical defects only because it is a reflection of the spiritual defects he may have.

Halacha of the Week

When reciting the Beracha of Elokai Neshama, one should pause briefly between the words Elokai and Neshama (Mishna Berura 46:3).

Food for Thought
by Dani Gross

1) The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh makes an observation that the beginning of this week’s Parsha starts with Hashem telling Moshe, Emor El Hakohanim...Ve'amarta Aleihem. What is the purpose of the Keifel Lashon (double language) of Emor and Ve'amarta? 
2) Pasuk 23:5 calls the fourteenth day of Nissan Pesach. The fifteenth of Nissan is called Chag Hamatzot. What is the difference between calling the holiday Pesach and calling it Chag Hamatzot? Consider the fact that we call the holiday Pesach, yet during our Davening we refer to it as Chag Hamatzot.

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at koltorah@hotmail.com Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
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