Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Acharei Mos - Kedoshim

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand in his parsha shiur this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Acahrei Mos is perhaps most well known for being read on Yom Kippur, as the beginning of the parsha contains a description of the avodah performed by the kohain gadol on Yom Kippur. However, the parsha does not begin with Moshe instructing Aharon on the laws of the avodah (this comes in the second pasuk). Instead the parsha recites that Hashem spoke to Moshe after the death of two of Aharon's sons who had died after they came close to Hashem.

Rashi asks - why is the avodah is prefaced with the mentioning of the death of Aharon's sons. Rashi answers by citing to R' Elazar Ben Azaryah who compares it to a doctor who warns a patient - don't eat cold food or sleep in a damp place, while another is warned that he should not do the same since "so and so died" when he ignored those instructions. The second warning is clearly more efficacious as it is linked to the threat of death - so too Hashem links this to the death of Aharon's sons so that he is aware that he should not enter the kodesh hakadashim in an improper manner.

Rabbi Frand then asked - but the reasons for Aharon's sons' deaths were inapplicable to Aharon. It is explained that they died because they took an aish zara - a foreign fire, or because they refused to marry or have children. These were not issues for Aharon!

Rabbi Frand answered by citing the sefer Tiferes L'Shlomo who writes that they died "b'karvasam lifnei Hashem" when they attempted to draw close to Hashem. The problem with their actions was they wanted to chart their own course as to how to come close to Hashem and not through the norms which applied to everyone else. They saw the fire was to come from the outer mizbeyach which belonged to the commoners, but they did not want to be like everyone else and instead they brought their own fire. They also chose not to marry or have children as this was like everyone else and they felt that they could come closer to Hashem by not being like the proletariat.

Hashem's message to Aharon was don't be like Nadav and Avihu because the kohain gadol comes to the kodesh hakadashim one time per year - as the emissary of the nation. The reason that the kohain gadol comes into the kodesh hakadashim on Yom Kippur is that the Jews have become pure through their day of fasting and deprivation and this enables him to enter the holiest place on Earth.

Rabbi Frand then quoted to a gemara in Yoma which recites that when the kohain gadol left the kodesh hakadashim he would say a short prayer. The prayer included three elements: (1) that the Jews should never be subservient or beholden to an outside nation; (2) the Jewish people should always have parnassah and won't need to be dependent one on the other for financial support, and (3) that Hashem should not accept the prayers of the travelers on the road.

The obvious question is why the kohain gadol lumps in the pedestrian (no pun intended) third request with the other two lofty prayers?

Rabbi Frand answered by quoting the sefer Bei Chiyah who cites the sefer Divrei Yechezkel on Tehillim. The Divrei Yechezkel notes that Tehillim contains the sentence "Rachok M'Yishuasi Divrei Sha'agasi" - far from salvation are the words I am crying for. This is a lesson that people often times cry out for things that they don't really need when there are more pressing or urgent things to daven for. People may not understand what it is that they truly need and instead make minor things the focus of their tefillos. When the kohain gadol davens after he has left the kodesh hakadashim he is asking Hashem to ignore the trivial aspects of the prayers and give the Jews what they really need.

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