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17 Issue #30
Parashas Korach פרשת קורח
Eating in a Shul
30 Sivan 5773
Rabbi Michael Taubes
When discussing some of the laws concerning the right and obligation of Kohanim to consume the meat from certain Korbanos, the Torah indicates that this meat must be eaten in the Kodesh HaKodashim, the most holy place (Bamidbar 18:10). Rashi, commenting on this Posuk, explains that the Torah here is teaching us that the meat from these specific types of Korbanos must be eaten in the Azara, the courtyard of the Mishkan (or the Beis Hamikdash); this is the implication of the text in the Sifrei (Piska 117, Parashas Korach Piska Bes), and it is consistent with the instructions of the Posuk earlier in the Torah (Vayikra 6:19) which also discusses the eating of the meat from this type of Korban. The Ramban, however, commenting on the Posuk in this Parsha, is troubled by the fact that the Posuk seems to imply that this special meat must be eaten in the Kodesh HaKodashim, the most holy place, which does not include the courtyard. The Kodesh HaKodashim is the place where the Aron is; it is further inside than the courtyard, and it is actually not entered into by anyone except by the Kohein Gadol on Yom Kippur. The Ramban thus explains that the term “Ba’Kodesh HaKodashim” in this Posuk refers not to the place where the meat must be eaten, but to the manner in which this meat must be treated and consumed. This means that the meat should be eaten in a manner which reflects the sanctity of the most holy Korbanos, a requirement which impacts exactly who may partake of this meat and for how long it may be eaten. In terms of location, though, this meat should indeed be eaten in the courtyard. The aforementioned Sifrei, however, states that under certain emergency circumstances, the Kohanim can in fact enter the Kodesh HaKodashim, the most holy place, and eat their meat there; this is then what this Posuk comes to teach. The Gemara in Zevachim (Daf 63) and in Menachos (Daf 8:-9.) indicates this as well, adding that if not for this Posuk, it would have been impossible to allow
anyone to eat in the Kodesh HaKodashim, because ein adam ochel b’makom rabo, it is generally inappropriate and thus disrespectful to eat in the place where one serves one’s master and in his master’s presence, as explained by Rashi both in Zevachim (b’dibur hamatchil achila) and in Menachos (b’dibur hamatchil d’avodah); it is thus certainly forbidden, under ordinary conditions, to eat in the holiest area of the Mishkan and the Beis Hamikdash, where one serves Hashem. Perhaps with this in mind, the Gemara in Megillah (Daf 28) states that one may not eat or drink in a Shul, since a Shul obviously is also a place where one serves Hashem; it would seem from the comments of Rashi there (b’dibur hamatchil ein), though, that eating and drinking are just specific examples of activities forbidden in Shul under the general heading of inappropriate Shul behavior. In any case, both the Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah Perek Yud Aleph Halacha Vav) and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim Siman 151 Se’if 1) rule that in general, one may not eat or drink in a Shul; the Vilna Gaon (Be’ur HaGra b’dibur hamatchil k’gon) implies that these authorities disagree with Rashi and hold that there is an independent prohibition to eat or drink in a Shul. There are, however, several notable exceptions to this rule. The Gemara later in Megillah (28:) indicates that Talmidei Chachomim are permitted to eat and drink in a Shul because it is like their home and thus, as explained by Rashi (b’dibur hamatchil maiy), may be used by them for their needs; Rav Yaakov Yeshayah Blau, in his Sefer Tzedakah U’Mishpat (Perek Yud Bet Hearah Yud Daled), cites a view that even one who learns a little bit may also have the status of a Talmid Chochom for these matters. The Rambam rules in accordance with this Gemara, adding, though, that Talmidei Chachomim may eat or drink in a Shul only “m’duchak”, that is, in pressing circumstances. The Tur (Orach Chaim) presents no such limitation on this leniency, but the Beis Yosef (b’dibur hamatchil v’rabbeinu) suggests that the Tur actually agrees that even a Talmid Chochom may eat or drink in a Shul only in pressing circumstances; the Bach, however, disagrees with this suggestion, writing that there is a dispute here. Although
Vol. 17 Issue #29 ש עק ק ו ו the Beis Yosef cites the view of the Ohr Zarua as quoted in this ruling. the Hagahos HaArsheri on the Rosh in Megillah (Perek The Ran in Megillah (b’dibur hamatchil batei), Daled Siman Zayin) that even ordinary people may eat and however, writes in the name of the Ramban that at least in drink in a Shul, this seems to be the minority view. Shuls outside of Eretz Yisrael, one may have poor people The Shulchan Aruch thus rules that Talmidei eat and drink in the Shul proper and take care of their Chachomim may eat and drink in a Shul, but even they may needs there, based on the aforementioned Gemara in do so only m’duchak, because of pressing circumstances. Pesachim . The Taz (Orach chaim Siman 151 Se’if Katan The Magen Avraham (Se’if Katan Bes) permits only one Aleph) thus rules that guests may indeed eat in the Shul, who is learning in a Shul to eat and drink there, because and he makes no mention of where it is located and says otherwise he would have to interrupt his learning every nothing about using only the adjacent rooms. The Aruch time he would want to eat or drink; this is therefore not a Hashulchan (Se’if Bes) finds this position difficult, but the blanket permit for any Talmid Chochom to eat and drink in Mishnah Berurah (Se’if Katan Hey) writes that it is Shul, but rather a leniency for someone actually learning in permissible to have poor guests eat or drink in a Shul at Shul. The Ran in Megillah (Daf 9. b’dapei Ha Rif b’dibur least outside of Eretz Yisrael if there is a need; the Kaf hamatchil tziluta) suggests that there may be a difference HaChaim (Os 12) outlines the different views about this between a Beis HaKnesses, used for davening, and a Beis matter, citing several authorities on each side, and HaMidrash, used for learning, writing that only in the latter concluding that it is better not to have guests eat in a Shul may one who learns there all day eat and drink even in non- unless there is a great need. pressing circumstances; this view is cited by the Ramo. The The differences in Halacha between a Shul in Eretz Machatzis HaShekel, commenting on the Magen Avraham Yisrael and a Shul elsewhere are based upon the statement (Se’if Katan Bes), nicely outlines the different opinions on this matter; it is clear, however, that at least Talmidei of the Gemara in Megillah that the Shuls in Bavel (meaning Chachomim are permitted to eat and drink in a Shul in outside of Eretz Yisrael) are built “al tnai,” conditionally, which means, as Rashi (b’dibur hamatchil al tnai) explains, certain circumstances. on the condition that they may be used for other purposes. The Gemara in Pesachim (Daf 101) indicates that Tosafos (b’dibur hamatchil batei) explains that this is guests were sometimes housed in the Shul and would because when the Geulah arrives, those Shuls will lose obviously eat and drink there as well, implying that it is their Kedushah, while the Shuls in Eretz Yisrael will retain permissible for the Shul to be used by guests for eating and their Kedushah forever. Consequently, some authorities, drinking. Incidentally, this Gemara is the source for the such as the Ramban cited by the aforementioned Ran and custom to recite Kiddush in Shul on Friday night because Rashi, as understood by Tosafos in Bava Basra and by the when there were guests who would be eating there for Rosh there , and the Rashba (She'elos U'Teshuvos Shabbos, Kiddush would have to be recited in their behalf; HaRashba Chelek Daled Siman 278), hold that one can be this was done in Shul, and the practice remains in many more lenient about eating and drinking even in the Shul places today even though there are no guests eating in Shul. proper if it is outside of Eretz Yisrael, especially if there is This practice is codified by the Rambam (Hilchos Shabbos a great need. The Pri Megadim (Mishbitzos Zahav Se’if Perek Chuf Tes Halacha Ches) and by the Shulchan Aruch Katan Aleph) and the Mishnah Berurah cited above state (Orach Chaim Siman 269 Se’if Aleph); the implication of all that this may indeed be the Halacha, although it is worth this is that these guests would eat and drink in the Shul noting that in the Biur Halacha , the Mishnah Berurah proper. Tosafos (sham b’dibur hamatchil d’achalu), writes that there is no difference between a Shul in Eretz however, questions this based on the aforementioned Yisrael and a Shul elsewhere with regards to the permission Gemara in Megillah that forbids eating and drinking in a granted to a Talmid Chochom to eat and drink there. Shul, and concludes that the Gemara in Pesachim is Many other authorities, however, such as the discussing only the rooms adjacent to the actual Shul (meaning the sanctuary) itself. This is also the position of above cited Tosafos in Megillah and in Pesachim and in Tosafos in Bava Basra (Daf 3: b’dibur hamatchil v’ayleha) Bava Basra, the aforementioned Rosh in Megillah and in and of the Rosh there (Perek Aleph Siman Daled), as well as Bava Basra, and the Mordechai in Megillah, hold that there of Tosafos in Megillah (b’dibur hamatchil Ein) and of the are no leniencies for Shuls outside of Eretz Yisrael; it is Meiri there (Beit Habechira b’dibur hamatchil batei knessiot) only after they have been destroyed that they have no and others; the Magen Avraham (Se’if Katan Bes) accepts Kedushah, unlike Shuls in Eretz Yisrael. The Shulchan
Page 3 ש עק ק ו ו Aruch (Se’if 11) rules that one cannot be lenient regarding like Shalosh Seudos to be eaten in Shul, especially if Divrei an existing Shul even outside of Eretz Yisrael, but the Torah are presented. Mishnah Berurah in the Biur Halacha (b’dibur hamatchil aval b’yeshuvo), where the different views are summed up, concludes that one may be lenient about eating and drinking The Right Way to Fight in Shul in a case of great need; he later writes in the Biur Halacha that perhaps even in Eretz Yisrael one can be Steven Stein lenient about this too, as is also the position of the Tosafos Rid in Pesachim. This bulk of this week’s Parsha pertains to the The Yerushalmi in Sanhedrin (Perek Chet, Halacha infamous rebellion of Korach and his band of followers. The Bes, Daf 41:-42.) clearly implies that meals used to be eaten goal of their protest was to overthrow Moshe and Aharon as in Shuls when people assembled there for Kiddush the leaders of Bnei Yisroel by attacking the legitimacy of Hachodesh, to sanctify the new month; the Yerushalmi in their appointment. This disgraceful crime ultimately led to Pesachim (Perek Aleph, Halacha Aleph, Daf 1:) states that the death of Korach and his supporters by earth-swallowing Shuls must be checked for Chometz before Pesach because and burning, respectively. The Midrash cited in Rashi of these meals and because of meals eaten there on Shabbos, explains the origin of Korach’s discontent. Elitzafan was a reference either to guests, as suggested by the Korban Ha appointed as the prince while Korach felt he was the one Eidah (b’dibur hamatchil shachein), or to Shul officials, as who deserved the honor. The Kedushas Halevi raises a suggested by the Pnei Moshe (b’dibur hamatchil v’k’amar). question: Elitzafan was appointed as a prince at Har Sinai, Based on this, the aforementioned Tosafos in Pesachim so why did Korach wait until now to pick an argument? notes that eating and drinking in a Shul for a Mitzvah is Additionally, Korach argues, “ki kol ha’eida kulam kedoshim permissible; the Semag (Mitzvas Asei 29) likewise writes u’v’socham Hashem umadua tisnasu al kehal Hashem” – “the that a Seudas Mitzvah may be held in a Shul, as does the entire congregation is holy and Hashem is within them, why Ohr Zarua (Chelek Bes Sof Siman 23, and in Siman 388), do you (Moshe and Aharon) rule over Hashem’s who states that a meal on Shabbos is classified as a Seudas congregation?” (Bamidbar, 16:3). Moshe’s response, “vyoda Mitzvah. The Kaf HaChaim cited above quotes those who Hashem es asher lo v’es hakadosh…v'es asher yivchar bo yakriv suggest that the reason guests may be able to fed in a Shul is eilav” – “Hashem will make known the one who is His own and the holy one… and whoever He chooses He will draw that such a meal is like a Seudas Mitzvah. close to Himself,” seems to be completely unrelated. What The Shulchan Aruch (Se’if Daled) rules that if is going on? people assemble in Shul for a Mitzvah, they may eat and The answer is that Moshe was responding to Korach, drink there. The Magen Avraham (Se’if Katan Hey) quotes those who limit this permission to have a Seudas Mitzvah in but instead of replying to the question directly, he Shul to a small meal, as explained by the Machatzis responded to Korach’s true motivations. The Gemara in HaShekel (Se’if Katan Hey); the Kaf HaChaim (Os 34) Pesachim (116.) tells us that Korach’s wealth led to quotes this as well, using as an example a small Seudah unwarranted haughtiness, which caused Korach to believe following a Siyum, and adding that one must be careful that he himself was fit for a leadership role. So while at the about the nature of any conversation held in Shul. The surface it seems like Korach was really petitioning against Aruch Hashulchan (Se’if Vav) allows in Shul only a Seudah the entire notion of leadership, what he really wanted was related to Talmud Torah, but not the Seudah for a Bris, a the leadership for himself. Moshe was aware that this is Pidyon HaBen, or a wedding; the Mishnah Berurah seems to what Korach truly desired, and therefore responded be more lenient, allowing even a larger Seudas Mitzvah in precisely to his real underlying claim. His being shunned in Shul, and he doesn’t mention specific limitations. The Sdei favor of Elitzafan for the prince title caused him to stir up Chemed discusses this subject as well, bringing up the an argument; it was evident that Korach’s selfish motives practice of eating and drinking in Shul as part of the were not leshem shamayim. observance of a Yahrtzeit, and he discourages this, but the There are fine lines between disputes that are leshem Kaf HaChaim (Os 63) quotes those who are more lenient. shamayim and ones that are for selfish motives. These can Rav Moshe Feinstein also appears to be more lenient about also be considered constructive and destructive arguments. this in general if there is any Mitzvah component to the One method of detecting whether an argument is Seudah at all, as is Rav Ovadyah Yosef, who allows a meal
Vol. 17 Issue #29
קו constructive or selfishly motivated is the ability to wait before beginning a fight. If one cannot delay a fight, it is most likely motivated by selfish desires, whereas if you have the ability to hold back and wait before arguing, the argument is probably constructive and leshem shamayim. The Kedushas Halevi says the reason Korach held back his argument is because the titles of princes would be removed anyway, so Korach only got upset after the cheit hameraglim, figuring that there would be another 40 years of princes. But another possible answer is that Korach held back his argument to give people the illusion that it was leshem shamayim. He made sure to delay the argument to give it that sense of genuineness and constructiveness that it would not have had otherwise. The Netziv explains that this is the same reason that Korach and his followers were killed in different manners. Korach’s followers were acting leshem shamayim, as they honestly wanted to be Kohanim purely out of a desire to serve Hashem more directly. Their only mistake was trying to jump to a level that wasn’t meant for them. As a result, Hashem personally sent His own Divine fire to consume them. Korach, meanwhile, acted selfishly and was influenced by his wealth, so all of his possessions had to be destroyed with him. Consequently, he was killed in a less noble manner, as the earth swallowed him and his belongings. The main takeaway is to examine one’s motivations before embarking on a dispute, and hopefully there will be many more machlokesim leshem shamayim that will ultimately prosper.
Vol. 17 Issue #29 ש עק only the Levi'im stepped forward. The Levi'im also seemed to hold themselves at a distance from everybody else by only marrying within themselves like Amram and Yocheved. These examples seem to strongly suggest that at that time, Shevet Levi considered itself distinct from the rest of the Jews.
It now makes sense that if God were to choose a certain group to have special duties and responsibilities, it would be the Levi'im, but the question still remains as to why any such group was needed at all. The Rambam, in the last two halachot of Hilchot Shemitah V’Yovel states that the Levi’s job is to promote Hashem and his Torah. A special group is needed to be specifically assigned this job or else it might be neglected. The Rambam continues and says that anybody who wants can attain the status of Levi spiritually (although not Halachically), meaning that although the Levi'im have the job to teach Torah more than anybody else, there is nothing intrinsically special about a Levi, it is only that he has special responsibilities, but anybody can take on those responsibilities. Since the Levi'im were quick to respond when they felt that Hashem’s honor was at risk, they merited to be the primary recipients of this holy responsibility. Thus, it is clear to us what our responsibilities should be. We must all strive to reach the high level of the Levi'im, however possible. In addition, we must always try to defend Hashem’s honor and stand up for what we believe in, no matter how difficult that may be.
The Leviim’s Special Privileges
Rosh Yeshiva: Rabbi Michael Taubes Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Baruch Pesach Mendelson Editors in Chief: Philip Meyer and Ori Putterman Executive Editor: Yehuda Tager Associate Editors: Asher Finkelstein and Yisrael Friedenberg Distribution Coordinator: Ezra Teichman Editors in Chief Emeritus: Meir Finkelstein and Yoni Schwartz
In this week’s Parasha, Korach complains to Moshe and Aharon that they have been taking all of the honors and leadership positions amongst the Jews. Moshe’s response to this insolent complaint is to chastise Korach by saying that Korach already has a special leadership role just by being a Levi, so why should he request a bigger honor. This raises two questions. Firstly, why should the Levi'im be treated any differently than the rest of Klal Yisrael to have the privilege of being teachers? Furthermore, why are class distinctions necessary at all in Jewish society?
To begin to answer these question, it is important to note that Shevet Levi was not arbitrarily chosen to be the vanguard of Hashem; it previously had a history of defending God and His laws. When Bnei Yisrael sinned by the Chet Ha’egel, and Moshe called out, “Mi lehashem elai”,
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