(21:1) “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe Dabaer el Hakohanim Benei Aharon-Hashem said to Moshe, speak to the Kohanim the son’s of Aharon.” Why does the Torah need to mention that they were the son’s of Aharon? Who else would be called Kohanim? Rav Yonasan Eyebeshutz answers that Moshe had the status of a Kohen at this time but since he was not a descendant of Aaron, he was not instructed to avoid becoming Tameh. Pinchas was able to kill Zimri even though he was a descendant of Aharon because he was not yet a Kohen. Based on this interpretation the posuk reads; speak to the kohanim- this excludes Pinchas, the sons of Aharon- this excludes Moshe. Rav Yonasan goes on to explain that precisely because Moshe was able to become Tameh by killing Zimri he was faulted by Hashem for not doing so. Instead Pinchas killed Zimri since he too was able to become Tameh. The Midrash uses this incident to explain how Midah Keneged Midah, Moshe was punished. For not acting, his burial place was to remain unknown. This was the punishment for since he did not become Tameh, so too, no one would ever become Tameh for him.
(21:1) “Vayomer Hashem el Moshe Dabaer el Hakohanim Benei Aharon-Hashem said to Moshe, speak to the Kohanim the son’s of Aharon.” The Kohanim are exalted above the rest of Yisroel. This the posuk reads "Speak to the Kohanim," tell them they are the sons of Aharon and must continue to conduct themselves accordingly.
(21:1) “V’amarta Aleyhem L’Nefesh Lo Yitamoh B’amov-Tell them, each of you shall not contaminate yourselves to the soul of a corpse among his people.” Why is the Torah using the word “Nefesh” to describe the contaminate? Is it not the corpse that contains the contamination?
The Baal H’Akeida writes that the concept of Tumas Mase is derived from the power of the sparks of the Neshama that are not able to separate themselves from the physical body, after they had been joined and connected to it, having become one with the Guf. Therefore if the soul would be able to detach itself completely there would not be any spiritual contamination or Tumas Mase. This is the meaning of the usage of the words “L’Nefesh Lo Yitamoh” the prohibition the Torah refers to is of the Nefesh. That it is through the soul connection that remains in the body that produces this Tumeh.
The Ohr Hachaim writes that the reason the term "Nefesh" is used is to teach us that even a small amount of blood can render a Kohen Tamei for the Nefesh is in the blood.
(21:2) “Ki Im L’Shearoh H’koreiv Aylav-Except for the relative who is closest to him.” The verse goes on to list these relatives. Mother, Father, Son , Daughter and unmarried sister. Oddly missing is a wife? Rashi explains “Ayin Shearoh Elah Ishto-There is no closer relative than a wife.” The Gematria of the word Shearoh is equal to Zivug min H’Shomayim.(507)
Man’s relationship with his relatives is based on the past. They all came from the same root. However his relationship with his wife is based on the future. The future is always more precious than the past, for that which has already happened no longer exists. No one can bring it back or improve on it. Yet we still have a chance to improve the future. (Oznayim L'Torah)
(21:6) "Kol Ish Asher Bo Mume Mzerah Aharon Hakohen lo Yigash L'Hakriv-Any man from the sons of Aharon the Kohen who has a physical defect shall not come close to perform the service"
The Kli Yakar writes that every defect is the result of sin. They were able the look at the defect and know what sin caused it. However a defect from birth was also restricted in order not to embarrass those barred from service.
(21:17) "Lechem Elokav-Food of G-d." What is meant by this expression "Food of G-d"?
When Yisroel stood at Mount Sinai they had reached a pinnacle in history. They had overcome the original sin. Not since the dawn of creation had man ever attained such closeness to the Creator. The purpose of bringing sacrifices to the Creator of the world is in order to reconnect to Him. The word Korbon is from the word Korov/close. The sacrifices are called the "Food of G-d" because just as food connects the physical body to the spiritual soul, so too the sacrifices reconnect Klal Yisroel with Hashem. Lechem Elokav is equal to 130 the same as the word Sulam-Ladder which is the connection of the upper and lower.
(22:28) “Oso V’es Binoh Lo Sishchatu B’Yom Echad-You may not slaughter it and its offspring in one day.” If one person kills the mother animal and another the offspring on the same day, both are culpable. There is an amazing link between the individual Jew and the rest of the nation. The Jewish people share one soul. In the eyes of heaven, all the Jewish people bear responsibility for each other. Here we find the slaughtering of the parent animal by one individual had an effect on the collective soul of the nation including every individual Jew. (Oznayim L’Torah)
(23:3) “Sheyshes Yomim Tai’Aseh Melacha-For six days work shall be done” This chapter is devoted to the Yomim Tovim. The commentaries ask why does it begins with Shabbos, and in particular with the six days of work? Rashi explains that this is to teach us that whoever observes Yom Tov is considered as if he observed Shabbos.
The Gerer Rebbe answers the question in a different way. We know that if a person touches something Tameh he becomes Tameh. Depending on the different degrees of Tumeh that the person touches is the degree of Tumeh he incurs. But what if it were reversed? What if he touches Kiddusha? There is a Gemarrah in Zevachim (87a) that says whoever touches the holy objects of the Mishkon becomes holy and is capable of spreading that holiness. If we look for the source of Kiddusha in the world, we find that at the six days of creation the first mention of Kiddusha is with regard to Shabbos.(Bereishis 2:3) “Vayivorech Elokim es-Yom Hasheve Vayikadesh Oso-Hashem blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” Shabbos is the source of Kiddusha in the world. By keeping Shabbos a person is able to spread that Kiddusha into the rest of creation. Through this the Sanhedrin was able to establish the times when Yom Tov would occur. As such, Shabbos acts like the sacred objects in the Mikdosh; whatever touches it becomes holy and is able to spread that holiness. This concept can be seen in the wording of the following excerpt from the Yom Tov prayers. Mikadesh Ha’Shabbos Yisroel V’Hazmanim-He sanctifies Shabbos, Israel and the festivals. First comes Shabbos then Israel and then the festivals. Shabbos is the source of Kiddusha which is then transferred to Yisroel to elevate the mundane.
In the Torah, the day of the month that we celebrate Shavous is not mentioned; it depends entirely on the counting of Yisroel. We count 49 days, then the 50th day is the chag. There is no set time to learn Torah as by other mitzvos for the Torah is “Above time”. With regard to the study of Torah it says “Vihigisa Bo Yomam Volayla-That you should occupy yourself with it day and night.” The day is before the night. This is not the order of Bereishis which says “Vayehe Erev Vayehe Boker” the night is mentioned before the day. This shows us that the Torah is not bound by time and it is above the time that was created. So the time of the giving of the Torah is not listed as a certain day of the month like the other holidays because the days of the month are times and the Torah which is “Above Time” is given on the “50th day” because the number 50 is “Above Time”. Succos and Pesach are for seven days but Shevuous is one day to show us that Torah is “Above Time”. For if Shevuous would be seven days there would be a set time for learning Torah. Shevous can fall out on any day of the week, it has no set time or set day.
(23:11) "Mimochoras H'Shabbos-On the day after Pesach" Why is Pesach referred to as Shabbos? The Oznayim L'Torah writes that because we were on the 49th level of Tumeh, We were undeserving of redemption. So too, Shabbos arrives as a gift, undeserving with or without our participation. Hashem himself needed to take us out of Mitzrayim. This created a closeness to Him that was like Yom Shekulo Shabbos.
(23:15) “U’Sefartem Lochem M’mochros H’Shabbos-You shall count for yourselves from the day after Shabbos.”Hashem had raised them to the lofty levels of angels. He then returned to His heavenly abode leaving man to fall from this high level. Now that they had experienced “a day that was entirely Shabbos” they began to yearn for that closeness again. (Oznayim L'Torah)
Many commentators have struggled to explain why the word Shabbos in this verse is really referring to the first day of Pesach? In Bereishis on the eve of the first Shabbos Hashem intended for man to obey His first command and enter Shabbos in a pure and holy state. This would have been the completion and perfection of all of creation. However Man failed and creation was thrown into a downward spiral. Through Hashem’s chesed Man was allowed to remain in Gan Eden for Shabbos. The work to rebuild the relationship would thus begin on the eighth day, the day following that first Shabbos - M’Mochros H’Shabbos.
(23:28) "B'etzem Hayom Hazeh-On this very day" Why is this phrase repeated here with regard to Yom Kippur? We might get have thought that the forgiving of sin can only be accomplished when there is a temple standing. The Torah therefore tells us B'etzem Hayom Hazeh it is the essence of the day itself with or without the temple.(R.Bechaya)
(23:28) “L’Chapear Aleichem-To provide you atonement.” The Baal H’Rokeach writes that the word Kapora is written 24 times in the Parshas of Acharei and Emore. This corresponds to the 24 prohibitions of Arayos in Acharei and the 24 hours in the day. Plus, he adds, the 24 times the word “Ochel” is found in Bereishis from the time Hashem commanded Adom to eat from all of the trees in the garden (Lochem Yihiyeh L’Ochloh), until Hashem expels man from the garden lest he eat from the “Tree of life” (V’ochel V’chai L’Olam)
What is the connection of all of these? Both of these Parshios deal with the Kohanim, the priests. They represent the apex of man. The Torah prescribes that they represent all mankind in the service of the Temple. They are to be holy and thus abstain from any illicit behavior (Arayos). They are to correct the original sin which robbed mankind of time. Where he once was to live for ever, he now was reduced to being subject to time. Plus the 24 times the word Ochel is mentioned, with regard to the sin of eating the forbidden fruit, is countered by the 24 times the word Kapora is written.
(23:29-30) "V'Nichrisah M'Ameha..V'Chol Ha'Nefesh Asher Taseh Kol-Melacha B'Etzem H'yom H'zeh V'Havaditi. Es HaNefesh HaHu Mikerev Amoh-Any soul who will do work on this very day, I will destroy that soul from among its people." The Soforno writes that from the two expressions of dealing with someone who transgresses Yom Kippur, there are two types of punishments. For someone who eats the punishment may be Koros- spiritually cut off. He may just be a glutton. However one who works on Yom Kippur shows contempt for Hashem's wishes.
(23:40) "Pri Eitz Hadar-The fruit of a tree of splendor." These words have the same numerical value as the word Esroigim. The verse could have said "Pri Hadar" but includes the word Eitz. This teaches us that the tree and the fruit have the same taste.
(23:42) “Ba’Sucos Taishvu Shivas Yomim Kol-Hoezrach B’Yisroel-You shall dwell in the Sukos seven days, every native born Israelite”. What is the term “Kol-Hoezrach” meant to teach us?
We don’t find this term by any of the other Moadim mentioned here. The Kli Yakar writes that it has to do with the fact that Sukkos is a time of gathering in the crops. A time when a person can tend to forget Hashem, feeling that he has a full storehouse. This is the time when he needs the lesson of Sukkos. It is the lesson of leaving the protection of his home to dwell in the protection of Hashem. Since the land belonged only to those native born Israelites the posuk says “Kol-Hoezrach”.
But perhaps we can offer a different explanation. In posuk thirty three, (23:33) the Torah begins to teach the mitzvah of Sukkos through posuk 36 at which point the Torah concludes with “Ayleh Moadei Hashem-These are the appointed times of Hashem”. Referring to all of the Moadim listed in this parsha beginning with 23:1. In 21:39 the Torah returns to Sukkos saying “Ach B’chamishe Asa Yom speaking here of the Sukkos of Achris Hayomim. In the future all the nations of the world will come to Yerushalayim to bring sacrifices on Sukkos. Any nation that will not be present will not have rain. But what the posuk is hinting at here is that the real mitzvah of Sukkah will only be for the Jews. Because we know that after Hashem’s revelation in the Messianic age, all the nations of the world will complain that had they received the Torah they too would have kept the mitzvos. So at that time Hashem will give the mitzvah of Sukkah to them. But they will not be able to carry it out. This is why the word “Kol-Hoezrach” is used in the second mentioning of Sukkos. Only the natural born Jews will truly be connected to the mitzvah of Sukkos.
The Zohar has a different take on this. The repetition and the mentioning of “Kol-Hoezrach” is meant to include the Ushpizin that come each night. That is why the future tense is used. “In Succos you shall dwell” -will dwell in the future.
(24:10) “Vayetze Ben Eisha Yisraelis Vehu Ben Eish Mitzri-The son of an Israelite woman went out, and he was the son of an Egyptian man.” The Torah here tells us that they did not know what to do with this man who cursed Hashem using the Shem Hamiforesh. And that they put him under guard until they could hear from Hashem what was to be done with him. Later it says that Hashem told Moshe to take the man outside and stone him. In between the Torah tells us the laws concerning one who curses Hashem. Then in posuk (24:23) “Vayotziu es Hamikalel el Mechutz Lamachaneh -U’Benei Yisroel Asu Kasher Tzivah Hashem es Moshe-They took the blasphemer outside the camp-and Benei Yisroel did as Hashem commanded Moshe.” It would seem that Benei Yisroel did the job that was commanded to Moshe. Why did Moshe need to ask Hashem what to do? We know that a person who curses his parents is stoned, how much more so if he curses Hashem? Why did Benei Yisroel need to do the job instead of Moshe? Plus why was it necessary for the Torah to tell us that Benei Yisroel did as Hashem commanded Moshe?
We know that this son of an Egyptian man was born from the only illicit union that occurred during the entire servitude in Egypt. While Moshe was in Mitzraim he came across an Egyptian beating a Jew. He understood what had transpired. The Egyptian posed as this man and had slept with his wife. Now that the Jew had become aware of this incident the Egyptian was beating him. Moshe it says looked “Ko V’Ko” he looked into the future to see if any converts would come from him. After ascertaining that no one was to come from him, he killed him using the Shem Hamiforesh. In our parsha this Jew who cursed was the son of that union. That’s why the posuk tells us his father was an Egyptian. When he was told that he could not pitch his tent in his fathers Shevet he went to the Beis Din who ruled that he had no right to pitch tent there since his father was not a Jew. At which point he found out that Moshe was the one who killed his real father using the Shem Hamiforesh. He therefore went out from the Beis Din and cursed Hashem. Moshe did not want to be the one who pronounced sentence on this Jew. It would come out that he killed the father and the son. That when he looked into the future to see if anyone would come out of this Egyptian he did see someone. This Jew! So by killing him himself he was assuring that what he had previously done held up. This is why it says that they asked Hashem what to do with him. This is also why it was Benei Yisroel and not Moshe that took him out to be stoned.
They used to lift and show the Lechem Haponim to the Oleh Regel and say to them this shows Hashem's love for you, the bread is taken away as fresh as it is set down.
Why is it that they were shown this particular miracle of the bread that would stay fresh the whole week?
The answer to this question is the same answer to the question of why did the munn fall each day and not just once a year? Because like a king that loves his son, Hashem loves Benei Yisroel so much that he wanted them to come out each day to meet with him. The proof is that if the bread could stay fresh and warm a whole week later, then the munn too could have remained fresh all year long. The Lechem Haponim was shown to the nation as a symbol of Hashem's love for his people.