YOM TOV – A TIME TO COVER ONE’S NAKEDNESS
The first part of Parshas Emor deals with the special laws of Kehunah, טומאת מת and their dinim of kedusha. The latter part of the parsha evolves around the Yomim Tovim which we read in the Torah every Yom Tov. We must ask the question why this Yom Tov reading of the Torah is specifically fixed in this parsha of Kedushas Kohanim?
Let us first examine why the Kohanim above every other Yid were prohibited to come in contact with a corpse? We can explain this as follows. Adam Harishon before eating from the Aitz Hadaas was destined to live forever. Subsequent the sin it was decreed upon mankind death. This was Man’s fate until Matan Torah whereupon Am Yisrael rectified Adam’s falling and they returned to the pristine state of man in Gan Eden. This fixing of the original chait is supported by the Aseres Hadibros being engraved on the tablets. The lashon for engraving is חרות which can be translated also as freedom. At Matan Torah Am Yisrael were freed from the Angel of Death. However, this restored level was short lived for it was once again terminated with the making of the Golden Calf and the breaking of the Luchos thereby returning to the state of Adam after the chait.
Not everyone partook in worshipping the Aigel. Shevet Levi remained loyal and steadfast in their unflinching emunah. It was for this reason that the Kohanim, the children of Ahron, merited to be designated to perform the avodah in the Beis Hamikdash. We can therefore say that the Kohanim did not totally lose this level ofחרות , this separation from death. By default being part of Klal Yisrael they still died. However, there still remained in them a dimension that set them apart from death and that is separation from corpses. This extra stringency of kedusha level to distance them from contact with death clearly demonstrates their emunah and fidelity relationship with Hashem under all circumstances by not making a deity of the Aigel.
We can now understand why they were given the name כהןfor it alludes to their special madraigah. The passuk says (Bereishis 3,22) הן האדם היה כאחד ממנו Hashem is addressing the malachim and says Adam originally was a super spiritual being even greater than you, separated from physical desires and cravings. Now all this has changed (Rabbeinu Bachya). This could be hinted in the letters of הן which the Medrash says it represents letters that are separated from all the rest. For every letter has a shidduch to attain ten and one hundred except for the letter hey and nun which only have themselves: אט בח גז יצ כף לע הה ננ. Adam in his pure state was a הן creature with no comparison to any other creation because he possessed the Tzelem Elokim and was above physical cravings. That is why the first time we encounter in the Torah the word הן it is used to describe Adam in Gan Eden. The word כהן therefore symbolizes an individual who isכ like הן in that he retains a partial attachment to the state of Adam before the chait.
With this we can understand the derasha of Chazal on the passuk אמור אל הכהנים בני אהרן ואמרת אלהם לנפש לא יטמא בעמיו. The passuk mentions two times the word אמירה from which they learn that these laws of tumah and taharah should include the adult Kohanim warning the minors as well. One might ask why did the Torah find it necessary concerning the laws of tumah and taharah of the Kohanim to specifically point out the obligation to warn minors?
The answer is that since the Kohanim retained a certain degree of Adam’s spiritual state before the sin, this command was part of the continuous tikkun of the chait. For Adam did not warn Chavah properly in prohibiting her from eating from the Aitz Hadaas. Chazal say that he included in Hashem’s prohibition of eating the fruit of the Aitz Hadaas the issur of touching the tree. This means that she thought that Hashem restricted her to distance herself from even contacting death (Aitz Hadaas). So when the Nachash pushed her against the tree and she did not die by contacting it she decided that the entire prohibition even eating the fruit was untrue. Had Adam warned her properly by telling her that contacting the tree was only an added stringency by him, the chait might never have happened.
The Kohanim were able to retain that small degree of before the sin as we have seen from the chait of the Aigel. Therefore they must properly warn minors whose Torah intellect has not yet matured to stay far away from coming in contact with death. In this way they can still preserve their hold on the state of Adam prior to the chait which came about through the improper warning forbidding coming in contact with death.
Now let us examine the deeper source of the Yomim Tovim with the words of the Ben Ish Chai at the end of Meseches Megillah. Am Yisrael worshipped the Aigel for six hours until the return of Moshe Rabbeinu carrying the second Luchos. In order to nullify an issur one needs to counteract it with sixty units of heter. Therefore six hours of worship of avodah zarah requires 360 units of emunah and kedusha in order to nullify it. Hashem therefore gave Am YIsrael the Three Regalim containing 15 days: Pesach 7 Succos 7 and Shavuos 1. Together the Yomim Tovim contains 360 hours. Hashem in His kindness and mercy established the Three Regalim in order for us to rectify the chait of the Aigel which we worshipped for six hours.
The Ben Ish Chai explains with the above interpretation, the passuk אני אעביר כל טובי על פניך in an incredible fashion. After the chait Hashem tells Moshe that He will pass all His Goodness before him. The word טובי is to be split into two words טו – בי. Hashem said that in order to fix the issur of the chait of the Aigel He will create ט”ו (15) the fifteen days of the Shalosh Regalim totaling 360 hours filling them with בי My kedusha. (We now also have a new source why the Shalosh Regalim are called Yomim Tovim). These 360 hours are hinted in the wordפניך which alludes to the inner פנים)) middle letter of your name משה which is the letter שין gematriah 360.
Now we can understand the connection between the two halves of the parsha which begins with kedushas Kehuna restricting contact with the dead and ending with the parsha of Yomim Tovim. The common thread that runs throughout both of them is the rectification of the Aigel Hazahav. Both allude to the preservation of hope and yearning for the final tikkun of the original chait of Adam Harishon. A remez to this can be gleaned from the passukוידעו כי עירמם הם Adam and Chava realized that they were naked (Bereishis 3,7). After the eating from the Tree of Knowledge they became naked and stripped from eternal life in the initial form it was destined to be and all the madraigos of spirituality that accompanied it. Yet in the word עירמם which is the cataclysmic makkah of humanity we find the refuah in its gematriah of 360, the same as the hours of the Shelosh Regalim. It is the Yomim Tovim that clothes us from our spiritual losses and nakedness, and strengthens us with the vision of the ultimate tikkun. In a deeper sense it is Am Yisrael’s experience of each Yom Tov that purifies us and brings us closer to the final geulah.
Let us continue with this thought that Yom Tov is an expression of the tikkun of the Aigel and chait Aitz Hadaas both of which brought about death. The passuk says ותפקחנה עיני שניהם וידעו כי עירמם הם their eyes opened up and they realized their nakedness. The Shelosh Regalim require the mitzvah to ascend to the Beis Hamikdash to see and to be seen by Hashem together with one’s korbonos. This mitzvah is called ראיה. This is a tikkun forותפקחנה עיני שניהם that their eyes saw their nakedness and death which is in contrast to Yom Tov whereupon Am Yisrael’s eyes are open to see life. As Rav Moshe Shapiro shlita explains that the Beis Hamikdash is called כי היא בית חיינו (berachos of the Haftorah). It is there that we bring the korbonos which are called ריח ניחוח describing the sense of smell. Just as in the human, the sense of smell symbolizes life since the breath of life entered through the nostrils of Man, so too the Beis Hamikdash is the source of life (Afikai Mayim Yomim Noraim).
This could be the very reason why the final pessukim after the Yomim Tovim talk about the Lechem Hapanim and the one who cursed Hashem and denied the miracle of these breads (Vayikra 24,10 Rashi). He claimed that the Lechem Hapanim was an illusion that it was impossible that over a week’s time the bread could still remain as hot and steaming as it was when it came out of the oven. The answer is that when one stands at the source of life nothing is really disconnected from its roots. The Mishkan and the Beis Hamikdash teach this lesson in order for man to rectify the chait of the Aigel. If we were really connected to Moshe Rabbeinu and had complete emunah, then no matter how long he was away from us we would have still been on fire forty days later just as we were at the moment he ascended upon the mountain to receive the Torah. If we failed to do so then our initial connection to him was not as tight and steaming from the very beginning as we thought.
The passuk (Bereishis 3,7) ends with ויעשו להם חגרת that they made for themselves coverings for their nakedness. The gematriah of חגרת is תורה. The Torah is called the עץ חיים for it fortifies life in a world of unavoidable death. The word עירמםis also gematriah 360. For it is the power of Torah and ש”ס also gematria 360 to connect the ממלכת כהנים to the Next World of eternity even while we still remain in This World that just fleets by until the day we expire.
Gut Shabbos Rav Brazil