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Torah - The Ultimate Kedusha

Mar 1, 2012

This week's parsha describes the garments worn by the Kohanim while serving in the Mishkan and in the Beis HaMikdash. One of the garments worn by the Kohen Gadol was the tzitz - worn on the head of the Kohen Gadol with the inscription Kodesh LaHashem. The Kodesh LaHashem, sanctified to Hashem, is referring to the Kohen Gadol - though the tzitz certainly had kedusha it testified to the sanctity of the Kohen Gadol.


Similarly, the Netziv comments on the concluding pasuk of our parsha: "Aharon will cleans its horns once a year, from the blood of the sin-offering of the atonements, once a year shall he cleans it for your generations; it is holy of holies to Hashem" that "holy of holies" refers not to the mizbeach but to Aharon HaKohen - this too is a sign of the sanctity of the Kohen Gadol.


Rashi writes that Aharon HaKohen did not wear the bigdei kehuna for his own kavod, but for the kavod of Hashem. Similarly, when the Kohanim would partake from the sacrificial portions allotted to them, their eating was an avodah - it brought atonement to fellow Jews. The Kohen, therefore, did not eat for himself but rather because Hashem commanded him to.


This idea is not limited to Kohanim, for the Mishna writes: "vechol maasecha yihyu leShem Shamayim" "let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven" (Avos 2:17). The Rambam rules that one who has violated a Torah prohibition which is punishable by death, for example he violated the Shabbos, is not believed to testify against himself. If there were no witnesses and he appeared in Beis Din, his testimony calling for his death would not be accepted. The Radbaz asks the following question: if the halacha regarding monetary cases is: hodaas baal din keme-ah eidim dami "the admission of a litigant is equivalent to the testimony of one hundred witnesses (Kiddushin 65b), why do we not apply the same ruling with regard to capital cases?


The Radbaz explains that we are servants of Hashem. The Torah therefore writes that we should not sell ourselves into slavery (the Gemara derives this from the pasuk in Parshas Behar (Vayikra 25:55) "avadai hem" - they are servants to Me and not servants to other servants - see Baba Metzia 10a). At first glance, it is not clear to me how this solves the problem - if we are servants of Hashem then everything we have belongs to Him, after all "ma shekana eved kana rabo" "whatever the slave acquires belongs to the Master (Pesachim 88b). If so, then we should not be believed for testimony against ourselves regarding our possessions just as we are not believed to incriminate ourselves.


I believe we can answer as follows: all objects belong to Hashem, regardless of whether it is in my pocket or in the next person's pocket. I am therefore not testifying any more on something of Hashem's whether it belongs to me or to another person.


We find in Chazal that during the days of Achashverosh, the people issued a moda'a rabba l'Oraysa "a notification regarding the acceptance of the Torah", that with regard to Matan Torah: "kafa aleiehm har kegigis ve-amar lahem: 'im atem mekablim hatorah mutav, veim lav sham tehei kevurashchem'" "Hashem covered them with the mountain as though it were an upturned vat and said to them: 'if you accept the Torah, fine, but if not, your burial will be there'" (Shabbos 88a) - they accepted the Torah under coercion and duress and they are therefore not bound to keep the Torah. If the Jewish people do not see themselves as servants of Hashem then it is permissible to sell them as slaves to Haman. However, Rava adds: "nevertheless, they accepted the Torah again in the days of Achashverosh" (ibid.), at which point the Jewish people would not become slaves of Haman and Charvona came suggested hanging Haman.


Chazal liken the relationship between Hashem and Knesses Yisrael as between a chosson and kallah - with the Jewish nation being the kallah. Klal Yisrael is therefore mekudeshes to Hashem. Regarding Kiddushin, Chazal teach us that the woman is forbidden to anyone else as if she were hekdesh (see Kiddushin 2b). We see from here that not only are the Kohanim sanctified, but every Jew is holy as the pasuk states: "you will be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation" (Shemos 19:6).  Eretz Yisrael is holy and within Eretz Yisrael we have Yerushalayim which is more sanctified, and within Yerushalayim lies the Beis HaMikdash which also contains the Kodesh Kodoshim - the Holy of Holies. By the same token, the entire Jewish nation is holy and within the Jewish nation there are Kohanim who are more sanctified, and among the Kohanim is the Kohen Gadol who is even holier.


There is, however, someone who is even holier than the Kohen Gadol and that is the Talmid Chacham. We find in Chazal that a mamzer who is a Talmid Chacham takes precedence over a Kohen Gadol who is an am ha'aretz (see Horayos 13a). The ultimate kedusha is associated with cleaving to the Torah, there is no greater kedusha in the world.  The Torah is the wisdom of Hashem Himself so there is therefore nothing holier than the Torah. The Talmid Chacham who has Torah is therefore holier than the Kohen Gadol. The Beis HaMikdash is holy, the Kodesh HaKodoshim is holy - why? They are holy because they contain the luchos - the Torah written by Moshe Rabenu.   We see that sanctity of the Beis HaMikdash is derived from its housing the Torah. The Torah is the holiest thing in the world - the first Beis HaMikdash housed the luchos while the second one's sanctity was derived from being the place where the luchos were kept in the first Beis HaMikdash.


We find in the Rambam that when Moshiach arrives, all of Neviim and Kesuvim will become nullified with one exception - Megillas Esther. The reason given is that these other sefarim are all explanations of what is found in the Torah. Esther, however, is not just an explanation of the Torah, it is a new acceptance of the Torah - "kiyemu vekiblu" - "they accepted the Torah again in the days of Achashverosh."   Megillas Esther will therefore remain even during the days of Moshiach. We find in Chazal commenting on the pasuk: divrei sholom ve-emes (Esther 9:30) that the emes (truth) of the Megillah is the truth of Torah. This too can serve as a source for the eternity of Megillas Esther.


The Gemara presents a dispute between R' Yehoshua and R' Eliezer regarding how we should spend our Yom Tov: according to R' Yehoshua is should be "half for Hashem and half for you" - half of the day should be spent in spiritual pursuits (learning, davening), while the other half should be spent on physical celebration of the Yom Tov (having a festive meal). R' Eliezer is of the opinion that it should be either "all for Hashem" or "all for you". The Gemara continues that on Shavuos all are in agreement (even R' Eliezer) that we require lachem - "for you", because that is the day in which the Torah was given (see Pesachim 68b). On Shavuos we require a physical celebration of Matan Torah. The second Matan Torah took place on Yom Kippur when the second luchos were given. Why do we fast on Yom Kippur? Should we not celebrate the second Tablets by feasting as we do on Shavuos? The answer is that this Matan Torah only took place because of the Jewish nation's downfall with the chet haegel, this is not as much a cause for celebration. The third Matan Torah took place on Purim when we received the Torah willfully and were not coerced into it. Therefore on Purim we are certainly required to have a physical celebration.


Perhaps we can suggest the following highlighting the primary importance of the Torah. The Rambam and other poskim rule that the first kedusha of Eretz Yisrael was only temporary while the second kedusha remained even after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash.   What is the reason behind this distinction?   The Rambam offers a halachic distinction, but perhaps we can offer another explanation. HaKadosh Baruch Hu gave us Eretz Yisrael as a place for learning and keeping the Torah. When the Jewish people declared their "moda'a rabba l'Oraysa" claiming that they were coerced into receiving the Torah then they lost their claim to Eretz Yisrael. The kedusha therefore had no basis. Once we received the Torah willfully during the days of Achashverosh, this kedusha has remained with us ever since.

Venue: Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh


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