web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Separating The Kohanim

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

In this week’s parshah we learn of Korach’s conflict with Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon. The pasuk tells us that Moshe’s first reaction when confronted with the rebellion was to fall on his face and daven (Bamidbar 16:4). He then told Korach and his assembly: “In the morning Hashem will show who are His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him.” Since the rebellion was essentially against Aharon’s appointment to the position of kohen gadol, Moshe challenged them to attempt to bring ketores, something unique to the kohen gadol’s position. Moshe said that this challenge would take place the following morning.

Rashi explains that Moshe was attempting to stall for time, hoping that by morning the rage would subside. But it didn’t.

Rashi quotes a midrash that explains an alternate meaning of Moshe’s words: “In the morning Hashem will show.” The midrash says that Moshe was alluding to the fact that Hashem has boundaries set in the world – such as morning and night. Just as one cannot switch those two times of day, one cannot switch the other boundaries that Hashem has set forth – referring to Aharon’s appointment as kohen gadol.

The Gemara in Pesachim 104a discusses different opinions of what the correct nusach of the berachah of Havdalah should be. According to one opinion, one must mention all of the separations in the Torah. The Gemara cites a braisa that says that one must mention the separation between kodesh and chol; light and darkness; Klal Yisrael and the other nations; the seventh day and the rest of the week; tamei and tahor; the sea and dry land; the waters above and the waters below; and Kohanim, Levi’im and Yisraelim. The Gemara cites a pasuk in Divrei Hayamim (1:23:13) as the source for the separation between kohanim and levi’im. The pasuk there says that Hashem separated Aharon and his sons, and sanctified Aharon as kodesh kadoshim forever.

From this Gemara and from the midrash that Rashi quoted, it is evident that the kohanim’s uniqueness is defined as a separation similar to night and day. This delineation is in line with Rav Chaim Soloveitchik’s explanation of the following halacha: the Gemara in Bechoros 47a says that a kohen who defiles his kedushas kehunah does not assume levi status; rather he is considered a regular Jew. Rav Chaim (in his sefer on the Rambam, Hilchos Issurei Biya 15:9) explains that the three factions in Klal YisraelKohanim, Levi’im and Yisraelim – are mutually exclusive. A kohen is thus an entirely separate entity. Therefore, when he loses his kedushah (either by his own actions or those of his parents), he does not assume the rank of levi.

This separation between Kohanim, Levi’im and Yisraelim obligates us to honor kohanim. For example, we honor them by giving them the first aliyah, with leading the mezuman by bentching, and through other preferential treatments.

Rav Chaim’s grandson, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, once asked why we are not required to stand when a kohen walks into the room. After all, if one is obligated to show respect by standing when one’s parents, a talmid chacham, or a rebbe enters a room, why is this not the case regarding a kohen?

He answered that there is a difference between kohanim, parents and rebbeim. Regarding parents and talmidei chachamim, the Torah obligates us to show them kavod. One such respectful act is by standing when they enter a room. But the Torah does not require us to honor kohanim. It only requires us to “separate” them. This entails giving the kohanim preferential treatment by allowing them to go first in many different scenarios. However, we are not required to show kavod to a kohen. By allowing the kohen to go first, we are showing that he is separate from the rest of the nation. Standing up for someone is a gesture reserved for showing honor. It is for this reason that we are not required to stand for a kohen when he enters the room.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Separating The Kohanim”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran’s Zarif Paints Iran as a Lamb, Israel as the Lion
Latest Judaism Stories
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Ki Tisa_lecture

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aaron and  The Golden Calf by James Tissot

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

One can drink up to the Talmud’s criterion to confuse Mordechai and Haman-but not beyond.

“The voice is the voice of Yaakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav” gives great insight to Purim

Purim is the battleground of extremes, Amalek and Yisrael, with Zoroastrian Persia in between.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Aruch Laner asks: How can Rashi say that the third Beis Hamikdash will descend as fire from heaven when every Jew prays several times a day for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash?

The Ohr Hachayim rules that one may not manipulate the system; rather he must state his opinion as he see the ruling in the case; not as he would like the outcome of the verdict to become.

He suggests that the general admonition only dictates that a father may not actively enable his son to perform an aveirah.

Rather than submit to this fate and suffer torture and humiliation, Shaul decided to fall on his sword.

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

The Brisker Rav suggests that the barad, in fact, only fell on people, animals, and vegetation.

Why is it necessary to perform an aveirah punishable by lashes in order to be deemed a legal rashah and be pasul l’eidus m’d’Oraisa?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/separating-the-kohanim/2014/06/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: