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the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, and cer- tainly well above us, we can still search for insight and depth from the words of\u05d6\u05d7
the city closest in proximity to the corpse of a murder victim. A Parah Adumah must be slaughtered from the front of its neck, while the Eglah Arufah must have its neck broken from the back. Seemingly, the comparison between these two mitzvot is limited to this one point, yet other sources expand this contrast to other areas as well. TheT osef t a onPa r a h (Perek 2) adds that the mitzvah ofPa r a h is more stringent than that ofEg la h in thatPa r a h, unlikeEg la h, must be red, cannot be blemished, and becomes unfit if one performs another activity while performing the neces- sary steps with the Parah Adumah and its ashes. The Gemara inSota h 46a further compares and contrasts
To begin to understand what may lie behind this connection, one must examine the circumstances that require aPa r a h or aEg la h. TheEg la h is brought when, tragically, a corpse is found near a city, without anyone knowing the whereabouts of the murderer.
The elders of that city atone by taking a calf and breaking its neck in an unfertile valley. Upon complet- ing the process of atonement with theEg la h, the eld- ers of the city declare that they are not to blame for the murder of this individual. The Gemara inSota h 45b explains that although, of course, the elders did not murder this person, they still must establish their innocence regarding the welcome they afforded this guest to their city. Were they and the inhabitants of the city as diligent as necessary in feeding, housing, and accompanying this individual? One may suggest that breaking the calf\u2019s neck, specifically from the back of the neck, corresponds to the treatment that the inhabitants of the city afforded to this individual. Their \u201cturning their backs\u201d from him possibly left him vulnerable to the perils and dangers lurking on the roads.
The Parah Adumah is required for the purification process from Tumaas Mes. Upon encountering death, an individual is often left with an overwhelming feel- ing of futility. As the wicked Esav declared, " \u05d9\u05db\u05e0\u05d0 \u05d4\u05e0\u05d4
For the Parah Adumah to be effective, each stage requires our total attention. We find several examples in Mesechtas Parah. We separate the Kohen for seven days of preparation before burn-
he pasuk at the end of this week\u2019s Parsha states, \u201cDo not make your- selves repulsive by [eating] any
creeping creature that crawls, and do not make yourselves unclean with them, for you will become unclean because of them\u201d (11:43). The Torah writes the word \u201cunclean\u201d here with- out an\u05d0. The Gemara in Yoma (39b) explains, \u201c
The Chofetz Chaim explains this idea with a parable about a perfume seller. The merchant deals with perfumes all day, and while at the start of his career he was overwhelmed by the smell of perfume, eventually he got used to it. Then, one day he loses everything and must be- come a tanner. It was very hard for the worker to deal with the awful stench of soaking skins, but eventually the former perfume seller got used to this smell as well. The Chofetz Chaim says that this parable explains the idea in the pasuk. Someone who regularly eats forbidden foods will become accustomed to this sinful habit. Thus, the Torah commanded us not to be- comeTa mei by eating creepy crawlers even once because it will lead down a slippery slope. The natural confusion that comes when we go against the will of Hashem makes it that much harder to find the true derech.
ing to our pasuk, we can understand this mishna a little better. It is this exact\u05dd \u05d8\u05de\u05d8, this confusion, that leads us to sin. We build a barrier between
ourselves and G-d that makes it that much harder for us to hear him, and that much more likely to fail a second time.
May we all be zoche to return to HaShem with a teshuva shleima, and remove the confusion from our hearts to become true Ovdei Hashem.
precise formula for hand formation (except by ac- knowledging that it should take place above the shoulder area.)
The Haghos Maymaniyos on the Rambam in Hil- chos Nisayis Kapayim 14:3 notes that the Kohen should raise his right hand slightly higher than the left hand, a custom which he attributes to the singu- lar language of \u201cyado\u201d in the pasuk as well as a min- hag found in kabala. Furthermore, the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 128:12) tells us that the fingers should contain five spaces between them upon being spread out: The first two are found between \u201cthe two fingers and the two fingers\u201d (which occurs upon link- ing the middle finger to the index finger and the side finger to the pinky), the third and fourth one are found between the index finger and the middle fin- ger (a slight gap), and the fifth one is not mentioned by Shulchan Aruch but which he seems to imply is between the index finger and the thumb.
tance of Nisayis Kapayim. Does its importance match or even overtake the importance of the bracha of Bircas Kohanim, In other words, if one were to imagine a case in which the formation of the hands could not be accomplished would that beme\u2019a kev the bracha of Bircas Kohanim? (and render the whole mitzvah unnecessary)?
The Nodah B\u2019Yehudah (Orech Chaim 5) proves that Nisyayis kapayim is an inherent element of the mitzvah of Bircas Kohanim. He argues that standing during Bircas Kohanim is a Biblical commandment (based on a Tosafos in Menachos 109a) and since the Shulchan Aruch equates the importance of standing with the importance of the hand formation, he must be of the opinion that if one were unable to perform the Nisayis Kapayim, one neutralizes his ability to be yotze Bircas Kohanim as well.
In Igros Moshe (Orech Chaim 2:31), R. Moshe dis- cusses whether a congregation that is entirely com- posed of Kohanim can be yotze the mitzvah of Bircas Kohanim. He analyzes the seemingly differing state- ments of R. Simlai and R. Zeira in this context (found in Sotah 38a). R. Simlai argues that the pur- pose of Bircas Kohanim is not necessarily to bless the members of the specific congregation in which the Kohanim are currently re-
arshas Shemini presents one of the sources for the mitzvah of Bircas Kohanim, specifi- cally, the requirement for a particular ar-
rangement of the hands. After describing the various elements of the Kohen Gadol\u2019s service on Yom Kippur, the pasuk (Vayikra 9:22) points out that Aharon then proceeded to set aside time to bless Bnei Yisrael: \u201cVayisa Aharon es yadav al ha\u2019am
Kohanim, which contains the initial phrases \u201cMay Hashem bless you,\u201d \u201cMay Hashem illuminate his face towards you,\u201d and \u201cMay Hashem raise his face to you.\u201d A question that immediately comes to mind is why the Torah saw it necessary to bring two sources (Parshas Shemini as well as in Bamidbar 6:24-26) to describe the mitzvah of Bircas Kohanim, and why Rashi felt it necessary to link the two.
The Braisa in Sotah (38a) provides a compelling answer: Both sources are needed in order to teach us the different characteristics of the mitzvah of Bircas Kohanim. From the pesukim in Bamidbar, beginning with \u201cKo Tevarchu,\u201d the Gemara states that we would know that there is a concept of blessing the people, but we would not know how that is mani- fested. Therefore, the Gemara says that the source in Parshas Shemini is necessary, for Shemini teaches us \u201cVayisa Aharon es yadav\u201d- that the Kohanim\u2019s blessing of the people is only accomplished through the means of the hands and specifically by placing the hands in a specific formation.
But how exactly are the hands to be placed? What is the precise formation? The same Gemara in Sotah (37b-38a) provides details of the manner in which the Kohen performs the Nisayis Kapayim process: When outside the Bais Hamikdash, the Kohen should raise his hands above his shoulders and recite the blessing. However, if he happens to be perform- ing the ritual in the Bais Ha\u2019mikdash, then he should place his hands on his head. Rashi adds that the Kohen does this to acknowledge the presence of the Shechinah. This Gemara mentions the distinction between performing Bircas Kohanim inside and out- side the Bais Ha\u2019mikdash, but does not provide a
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