Parshas Acharei Mos:
This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon
"This shall be to you an eternal decree to bring
atonement upon the Bnei Yisroel, for all their sins, once a year..."
Yom Kippur is a special day that is given to us once a year, to repent for the wrong that we may
have done, and to make a decision not to repeat our
sin in the future.
Rav Eliyahu Lopian asks, why does the Torah have
to emphasize "once a year", specifically by Yom Kippur?
He answers by stating that we learn in the Gemarah:
"Why is the death of the sons of Aharon mentioned next to the Parsha of Yom Kippur? To teach us that the death of a Tzaddik is used to attain atonement for Clal Yisroel.
Why is the Parsha of Miriam brought down close to
the Parsha of the Parah Adumah? To teach us that just like the
ashes of the Parah Adumah are used to attain atonement, the same
is by the death of a Tzaddik, it attains atonement for the sins
of the Bnei Yisroel."
Thus the Torah is hinting to us, that it is enough to have the atonement which is similar to Yom
Kippur, the death of a Tzaddik, not more than once
Rav Mordechai Ilan brings down that we do find another place in the Torah where it also
emphasizes "in the year", by Succos, "seven days in a year".
In Vayikra (Pasuk 16:34), when the Pasuk writes about Succos that one shall celebrate a seven day period in the year.
There are only two Holidays that the Torah tells us the emphasis of "in the year".
The similarity of these two Holidays is that in both of them we are to serve Hashem through fear and happiness.
The goal of Yom Kippur is not to put us on a spiritual high once a year, and then fall till the next
Rather the goal of Yom Kippur is to give us a spiritual
high, once a year, that lasts a whole year.
On Succos we also have a "Simchas Beis Hashoeiva", which is said, that "one who did not see the happiness in this, never saw true Simcha in his lifetime." (Gemarah Succah 51:b)
This Simcha that one has on Succos is supposed to last not only the seven days of Succos, but
throughout the whole year.
Why 2 cases in the Gemarah:
One may ask, why do we have to learn this out from
two different cases, isn't one enough (Miriam & 2 Sons of
The Chasam Sofer explains that the death of a Tzaddik does bring atonement, however this
atonement is only a general atonement, for the whole nation, and not for each individual.
When all the sins of Bnei Yisroel are gathered together, and they out-weigh their Mitzvos, then
Hashem takes away from them one of their Tzaddikim,
and this brings atonement.
However, there is a possibility for the death of a Tzaddik to bring atonement for even the individuals of Clal Yisroel.
This occurs when one really feels the personal loss
of the Tzaddik, and he sees what great loss his generation has
just lost, then the death of the Tzaddik can bring atonement even
for each individual.
This is the reason for needing both of the cases.
When the Gemarah brings the case of Parah Adumah, its ashes were used to atone for the whole
Bnei Yisroel as a nation, and not each individual, this was the atonement that was reached by the
death of Miriam.
However, when the two sons of Aharon died, "The whole Bnei Yisroel bewailed the conflagration that Hashem ignited" (Pasuk 10:6).
Here each person felt pain over their death, thus each person attained personal atonement for their sins.
When contemplating the death of Aharon's two sons, is genuinely filled with sorrow and anguish, to the point of tears, this brings true repentance.
This is like Yom Kippur.
Thus both cases are brought to show the additional atonement of the individual and not only the
nation, by the death of a Tzaddik.
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz asks, how does one grieve over an event that happened thousands of years ago?
He explains that each great man is the sole bearer
of a particular dimension of greatness, which he shares with his
surroundings. When he dies, that dimension no longer exists.
Due to the untimely death of the two sons of Aharon, even though it may have occurred a few
thousand years ago, their mission in life to share
with their surroundings, remains unfulfilled to this day.
He continues and says that every person can acquire knowledge and spiritual growth.
If we fail to do so, one is not only depriving ones
self, but society also.
What to hate?
"You shall not hate your brother in your heart; You shall reprove your fellow and not bear a sin
because of him.
You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear
a grudge against the members of your people".
Rav Y. Frand (Tape # 29/30 B) asks a question on
We learn that one is forbidden to hate another Jew. There is a Gemarah in Pesachim that gives an
exception, a case when someone witnesses another
person doing a sin.
In a case when you see another person sinning, and you are only one person, and there are no other witnesses, the sinner is not punished in Beis Din. Rather one is allowed to dislike this person, for he is a Rasha.
And the Gemarah brings proof to this, for it says, "if you see the donkey of your enemy struggling under its burden...", what enemy? We are forbidden to hate our brother in our heart! So what is meant in this Pasuk which is found in the Parsha of Ki Seitzei? Aren't we not supposed to hate?
Their is an exception, and this is when one sees
another doing a sin intentionally, one is to rebuke ones friend
on his injustice.
There is a Tosfos in Gemarah Pesachim which asks,
what happens when there is a case where there are two donkeys
in front of you, one is a donkey of your enemy which has to be
loaded, and the other, a donkey of your friend that has to be
Usually one is commanded to help unload a donkey first, because of pain caused to the animal. Yet here we are commanded the opposite, in order for one to work on his Midos (Character Traits).
We don't want him to hate his fellow.
One may ask, "what's happening here?".
It seems that we have a disagreement if one is commanded to hate
him or not??
The Sefer Beir Yosef explains the reason for hating one when he does a sin, is because when one
sees another doing a sin, the sin slowly becomes less severe in ones eyes.
This is human nature, like when one watches TV and
sees so much murder, this causes murder to be viewed as less than
it was before.
Thus one is commanded here to dislike the intentional sinner, to help build up ones resistance, in
order not to be affected by it.
If this is the case, than the Torah tells us not to hate the person, rather the wrongful act, in order that the sin shouldn't affect ones Yiras Shemayim.
One is to hate the bad act, yet not the person.
Thus there is no disagreement in the Gemaras.
In the case of the two donkeys, we want you to love the person, yet hate his act.
This is a very important lesson for us, that we should
not try to embarrass the other person, we must work on loving
the person, and hating the act.
The "Avos DeRabbi Nassan" writes:
"Aharon HaKohen would never say to a person
that he sinned or acted improperly. Rather, when he would meet
a wicked person in the street he would extend a greeting to him."
In this way, he fulfilled the Mitzvah of giving reproof, for he had the ability to draw these people
closer to the Torah in his friendly manner, by showing love and respect.
One must try very hard to see the positive in a person
and not only the negative aspects.
The book "Ha Torah HaMisamachas", relates a story that Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was on a bus in Yerushalayim, when a scantily clad young woman boarded the bus and sat next to him.
Rabbi Auerbach gently reached for the button to signal the driver that he wished to get off, and
excused himself to the woman, "Pardon me, but
I have to get off here."
He then waited for the next bus, to his destination.
Rabbi Auerbach explained his action, "It was not proper for me to sit next to this woman, but if I
simply moved away, this might offend her.
Just because she was lacking in her modesty, was
no grounds for causing her any embarrassment.
Here is a perfect case, where one dislikes the other's actions, but still loves the person, the human
being behind those actions.
Pasuk (16:23): "Aharon went inside the Tent
of Meeting - he shall remove the linen vestments that he had worn
when he entered the Sanctuary, and he shall leave them there."
Rashi on this Pasuk explains that Aharon now went
into the Tent of Meeting in order to remove the spoon and the
censor in which he had previously burned the incense.
The Sefer "Mayana Shel Torah", writes on this explanation that the Baal Shem Tov brings proof
from this that when someone serves food to a Torah scholar, not only is he doing a Mitzvah by
serving the food, he is also doing a Mitzvah when
he cleans up afterwards.
This is learnt out from this Pasuk, from what we
see on Yom Kippur, where removing the vessels was considered as
part of the Yom Kippur service.
Thus when one removes vessels that were previously
used for a Mitzvah, their removal is included in the good deed.