Monday, September 24, 2012

The incense on Yom Kippur



The passuk in acharei mos says:
וְכָל אָדָם לֹא יִהְיֶה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּבֹאוֹ לְכַפֵּר בַּקֹּדֶשׁ עַד צֵאתוֹ
“Nobody should be in the ohel moed when the kohen gadol comes to atone in holiness until he goes out.”
Rabbi Tzaddok haCohen asks, why does the passuk say “וְכָל אָדָם” – “and any man should not be in the ohel moed”? Why does the passuk not just say “וְאָדָם לֹא יִהְיֶה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד” or “וְאיש לֹא יִהְיֶה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד” – “a man should not be in the ohel moed”?

The gemara says in Yoma (44a):
ותנא דבי ר' ישמעאל על מה קטורת מכפרת? על לשון הרע. יבא דבר שבחשאי ויכפר על מעשה חשאי.
“We have learnt in the beis hamedrash of Rebbi Yishmoel, ketores atones for lashon hara. Let something come which is done in secret (no other person may be in the kodesh ha’kedashim when the ketores is brought) and let it atone for something that is done secretly. (Rashi explains that most lashon hara is spoken secretly.)”
·         Why is the avodah of the ketores performed secretly?
·         How does the ketores atone for lashon hara?

The Maharal explains (Eruchin 15b, d”h heichi dami and נתיבות עולם נתיב הלשון פרק ז) that lashon hara that is spoken in front of the person about whom the lashon hara is about is not lashon hara. Speaking lashon hara in front of the subject is not called lashon hara, but rather is assur the same way as hitting someone is assur. The aveirah is not peculiar to the tongue, and so is not classified as lashon hara.
Additionally, the Maharal says that even if the person would have spoken the lashon hara in front of the subject and happened to speak it not in front of the subject this is still not lashon hara because it is still not a sin that is specific to speech.
·         Why is lashon hara (according to the Maharal) only something spoken away from the subject of the lashon hara? What difference does it make if the talking is done in front of the person, or away from the person, or if it could have been done in front of the person?

·         The Chafetz Chaim (חפץ חיים כלל ב׳ בההגהה השניה שעל הבאר מיים חיים) asks, how can the Maharal say that lashon hara in front of the subject is not classified as lashon hara? The Sifri says that Miriam spoke lashon hara in front of Moshe, if so according to the Maharal this wold be prohibited because of the issur of assaulting a person but is not lashon hara. Why then does the gemara call her speech lashon hara?

Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner explains as follows:

The Maharal
People only describe that which is external to them. For example, if French people sing, they would not say that they are singing a French song because they are French, so of course they sing French songs. They would simply say that they are singing.

The foundation of and prerequisite to lashon hara is that the person saying the lashon hara perceives the subject of the lashon hara as another, whom they then go on to describe. If the speaker of the lashon hara would see the other person as one with themselves, then the actions of the other person would not be something that could be described to a third external party.
According to the Maharal, lashon hara in front of the subject is not classified as lashon hara because the speaker has not yet come to consider the person that they are discussing as a totally objective topic of conversation. It is better to hit someone than to talk lashon hara about them because even if someone hits someone else they still feel some sort of connection to them. They have not totally alienated themselves from the other person.
The Maharal would still agree that if lashon hara is spoken in front of the subject there is still some sort of alienation from the person about whom the lashon hara is spoken, but this is not yet absolute.

Miriam
Had Miriam seen herself entirely equal to and similar to Moshe then she would not have spoke to Aharon about Moshe. Just as a person does not naturally talk about themselves so too they do not naturally talk against someone who they perceive as being in the same group as themselves. Miriam may have wondered why Moshe separated from Tzipporah and maybe she would have asked him about it, but she would not have discussed it with a third party.

Miriam spoke lashon hara in front of Moshe, so her speech did not fit in to the category of lashon hara because at least she criticized Moshe in front of him. However the basis of her actions, which was to see Moshe as outside of the group comprising herself and Aharon, is the basis of all lashon hara.

Although, as the Chofetz Chaim asks, according to the Maharal the chet of Miriam was not lashon hara, nevertheless the reason that it is referred to as lashon hara in the gemara is because it illustrates the basis of lashon hara, which is separateness from the person about whom the lashon hara is spoken.

Teshuvah
The teshuvah for speaking lashon hara must be the opposite of the chet of lashon hara. Seeing as the basis of the chet of lashon hara is feeling distant from the person about whom the lashon hara was spoken, the teshuvah for lashon hara must be re-identifying yourself as being part of the same group as the person about whom the lashon hara was spoken.

The Medrash Rabbah says (ויקרא רבה י', ט):
(יהושע ג, ט) 'ויאמר יהושע אל בני ישראל גשו הנה' רב הונא אמר זקפן בין שני בדי הארון רבי חמא בר חנינא אמר שמן בין שני בדי הארון ורבא אמר צמצמן בין שתי בדי הארון הדא הוא דכתיב (שם שם, י) 'ויאמר יהושע בזאת תדעו כי קל חי בקרבכם' אמר להם מתוך שהחזיקו אתכם שני בדי הארון יודע אני ששכינתו ביניכם
“And Yehoshua said to the Benei Yisroel come close here.
Rav Huna said he stood them between the two poles of the Aron. Rebbi Chama bar Chanina said he placed them between the two poles of the Aron, and Rava said he squeezed them between the two poles of the Aron.
This is what the passuk means when it says; “And Yehoshua said by this you will know that the living G-d is amongst you.”
He said, from the fact that the space between the two poles of the Aron contained you I know that His shechinah is amongst you.”
If the benei Yisroel are as one and so the shechinah rests amongst them, then the space between the two poles of the Aron will contain them. Since they feel that they are keish echad – like one man – then between the two poles of the aron they actually take up no more space than one man.
The avodah of the ketores that was burnt between the two poles of the aron in the kodesh ha'kedashim was to remind the benei Yisroel that they are as one. This is the teshuvah for lashon hara which is predicated on the assumption that the subject of the lashon hara is not one with the group that speaks the lashon hara.
That is why the passuk says:
וְכָל אָדָם לֹא יִהְיֶה בְּאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד בְּבֹאוֹ לְכַפֵּר בַּקֹּדֶשׁ עַד צֵאתוֹ
The passuk means that when the cohen gadol goes in to the kodesh ha’kedashim on behalf of all of klal Yisroel he should not go in as the representative of a multitude who are “כָל אָדָם” - "many people". Rather he should go in as the representative of “klal Yisroel keish echad” - all the Jewish people, as one man.

2 comments:

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

You write
"no other person may be in the kodesh ha’kedashim when the ketores is brought"
Actually, no person may be in the Heichal, or between the mizbeiach and the Heichal, during the year when the Ketores is brought on the Miz HaZahava. I love how you don't respond to comments.

Eliezer Eisenberg said...

I should correct my earlier comment, which was sabotaged by autocorrect. What I meant was that no person may be in the Heichal, or even between the mizbeiach and the Heichal, during the avoda of Ketores of all year round (Rambam, 3 T'UM 3). On Yom Kippur, they must vacate the Heichal, but they may remain standing between the Ulam and the Mizbei'ach (Tamid 6:3.) I still love how you ignore comments. You must be a Lubavitcher, who have honed obliviousness to a fine point. May you have a healthy and happy year.

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