Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Chukas

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

In Parshas Chukas the Torah teaches the principle of Tumas Ohel, which in simplified manner can be explained as - if a Jewish person enters a room in which there is the dead body of another Jew, the living person contracts Tumas Ohel, even though he has not touched the dead body.

The gemara learns this out from the pasuk in our parsha (Bamidbar 19:14) "This is the Torah, a man (Adam) who dies in a tent (Ohel)..." The gemara then teaches that "atem nikrayim adam" - Jews are called Adam, therefore being in the ohel with the dead Jewish body (as opposed to that of a non-Jew) can cause tumah to be transferred.

Rabbi Frand offered an explanation for why Tumah can be contracted from the dead body of a Jew. He stated that just as nature abhors a vacuum, the body does as well. When a Jewish person is alive, he is imbued with holiness by virtue of his neshoma. When he dies, the holiness departs and the spiritual vacuum is filled by Tumah.

Rabbi Frand then gave many examples of similar situations to the Ohel/vacuum scenario. The first example (said over by the Shem M'Shmuel in the name of the Kotzer Rav) dealt with Tumas Leyda. We learn in Parshas Tazria that a woman who gives birth (even without seeing blood) contracts Tumas Leyda which varies in duration based on the gender of the baby. Why is there Tumah if it is such a positive thing to deliver the child? The Kotzker Rav explains (citing to the Gemara in Ta'anis) that Hashem does not allow any angel to possess the key to giving birth and that He alone is involved with the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Since the key is uniquely in Hashem's hands, He is a partner in the creation and birth of the child. Once the child is born, the Schechina departs - thus creating the vacuum which is filled by Tumas Leyda.

Rabbi Frand brought another proof from R' Ruderman in (sefer Sichas Levi) about the punishments for eating neveila or creating piggul or nosar (which are also the topic of today's daf yomi!). If a person eats neveila he gets makkos for transgressing a lav, while one who creates piggul or nosar gets kares. Why? Because the animal which was made holy as it was being brought as a karban has now lost its holiness because of the action or inaction of the makriv. This void of holiness is filled by spiritual Tumah.

Rabbi Frand next brought a proof from the Haftorah of Devarim where it states in Isaiah 1:21 that Jerusalem was formally a city where justice dwelled, but now it is occupied by murderers. Again, the location of the holiness (in this case justice), once left empty, was filled with the other extreme (murderers).

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