Kohanim and Benei Aharon

  • Rav Yair Kahn

PARASHAT HASHAVUA

 

PARASHAT TZAV

 

Kohanim and Benei Aharon

 

By Rav Yair Kahn

 

 

1.  Torat Ha-Miluim

 

The korbanot section in Parashat Tzav ends with the pasuk: “This is the torah for the olah, the mincha, the chatat and the asham and the miluim and zevach ha-shelamim.” The mention of “miluim” in this context is very difficult to understand; the section explicitly mentions all the other korbanot, while the laws of the korban miluim are found in Sefer Shemot (ch. 29) and the implementation is described in the perek that follows this pasuk (ch. 8).  We will begin with several solutions to this problem.

 

According to Rashi, the term “miluim” is a general term that means inauguration.  It is used in Shemot with reference to the inauguration of the Mishkan, but it can also refer to the inauguration of an individual kohen.  The korban that a kohen brings at his installation is known as a “minchat chinukh” and is mentioned explicitly in this section: “This is the offering of Aharon and of his sons, which they shall offer unto Hashem in the day when he is anointed” (6:13). 

 

There are a number of difficulties with identifying the miluim as the minchat chinukh, however.  According to this interpretation, the term “miluim” in the concluding pasuk should have been listed after the mincha and before the chatat, following the order of the perek.  In addition, all the other korbanot listed in the summary are introduced in the perek explicitly with the phrase “this is the torah of.” However, this phrase does not appear before the minchat chinukh.

 

An alternative is suggested by the Ibn Ezra: “Miluim – as it says in the portion of Tetzaveh.” In other words, this pasuk does not come to summarize the korbanot section of Parashat Tzav, but is rather the conclusion of all the types of korbanot mentioned in the Torah.  While most of the korbanot are written at the beginning of Vayikra, the summary is inclusive and also refers to korbanot written elsewhere, such as the korban miluim documented in Sefer Shemot (ch. 29). 

 

At first glance, this answer seems like a bit of a stretch.  However, we should consider the pasuk following the summary, which states: “Which Hashem commanded Moshe on Har Sinai, on the day that he commanded the Children of Israel to present their offerings unto Hashem in the wilderness of Sinai” (pasuk 38).  The Ramban notes that this pasuk refers to Har Sinai, even though the mitzvot mentioned at the beginning of Vayikra were given from within the Mishkan.  He also notes that the pasuk also makes reference to the wilderness of Sinai.  Based on these observations, the Ramban comments:

 

In accord with the straightforward interpretation, this refers to that which Hashem commanded to Moshe at Har Sinai as well as that which was commanded to Bnei Yisrael in the Sinai wilderness … for He commanded the miluim at Har Sinai … while He commanded the mincha, asham, and zivchei shelamim in the Sinai wilderness from the Tent of Meeting. 

 

According to this reading, the Torah explicitly includes korbanot, such as the miluim, that were given previously at Har Sinai.  However, the Ramban himself concedes that the reference to Har Sinai may be to the laws received in the Mishkan, which at this point was camped at Har Sinai.  We will suggest another possible solution after briefly discussing the korban shelamim. 

 

2.  Chazeh Ha-Tenufa and Shok Ha-Teruma

 

One of the explanations for the name of the korban shelamim is that it brings shalom to the altar, to the kohanim, and to the owners.  The cheilev (fats) are offered on the altar, the chazeh and shok (chest and thigh) are given to the kohanim, and the rest of the meat is eaten by the owners.  Although the chazeh and shok are generally treated identically, the Torah seems to distinguish between them. 

 

Your hands shall bring the offerings of Hashem; the cheilev on the chazeh shall you bring, the chazeh to wave before Hashem.  And the kohen shall offer the cheilev on the altar and the chazeh shall be for Aharon and his children.  And the right shok shall be given as a teruma from your shelamim offering to the kohen.  (7:30-32)

 

The Torah differentiates between the chazeh, which is combined with the heilev, and the shok, which is treated separately.  The impression is that the chazeh was really meant to be offered on the altar with the cheilev, but Hashem awarded it to the kohen instead.  This is known as mishulchan gavoa kazachu (they received a portion of the altar – literally the upper table).The shok, on the other hand, is the portion of the kohen and was never meant for the altar.

 

The Netziv notes this point in his commentary (Vayikra 7:32) and uses it to explain why the term “tenufa” (that which is waved), which is normally associated with the portion offered on the altar, is connected to the chazeh, while the term “teruma” (that which is raised), which generally refers to the portion given to the kohen, is paired with the shok. 

 

“And the right shok should be given as teruma:” [The shok] is not similar to the chazeh, which basically belongs on the altar together with the heilev.  However, Hashem awarded it to the kohanim as a part of that which is elevated.  This is in contrast to the shok, which is the portion of the owner like the rest of the meat, but is given to the kohanim". 

 

Although the Netziv’s suggestion is firmly rooted in the wording of the Torah, we cannot deny that it has no halakhic support.  According to halakha, the chazeh and shok are placed together on the cheilev and tenufa and teruma (waving and heaving) are done with both (see Rambam, Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-Korbanot 9:8). 

 

An additional problem with this suggestion arises when we examine the next perek, which describes the korban miluim.  There, the shok is combined with the heilev and offered on the altar, while the chazeh is given to Moshe as a portion.  Although there are significant distinctions between the korban miluim and the korban shelamim, a glance at the miluim section in Parashat Tetzaveh (Shemot 29:22-28) indicates that the korban miluim is the source for the sanctity of the chazeh and shok in a normal shelamim :

 

Also you shall take of the ram the cheilev …and the right shok … And you shall place it all upon the hands of Aharon, and upon the hands of his sons; and shall do tenufa with them before Hashem.  And you shall take them from their hands, and offer them on the altar upon the burnt-offering … And you shall take the chazeh of Aharon's ram of miluim and do tenufa with it before Hashem, and it shall be your portion.  And you shall sanctify the chazeh ha-tenufa and the shok ha-teruma, which is waved (tenufa) and which is raised (teruma) from the ram of miluim And it shall be for Aharon and his sons as a law forever from the children of Yisrael; for it is a teruma and it shall be a teruma from the children of Yisrael of their shelamim sacrifices, their teruma for Hashem.  (29:22-28)

 

If the miluim is the very source for the sanctity of the chazeh and shok of the korban shelamim, how are we to resolve this discrepancy? Why is the shok associated with the heilev in the context of the korban miluim, while the chazeh is joined with the heilev regarding the shelamim?

 

            In order to try to solve this problem, let us explore the role of Moshe regarding the sacrifice of the korban miluim. 

 

3.  Moshe’s Status as a Kohen

 

The gemara in Zevachim (101b) says:

 

Moshe Rabbeinu was a kohen gadol, and he received a portion of consecrated objects, as it is stated: “From the ram of miluim, for Moshe it was a portion.

 

The gemara tries to disprove this assertion based on a source that says that Moshe did not have the power of a kohen to determine ritual impurity of tzara’at.  The gemara than answers that seeing tzara’at is different, as the pasuk refers to “Aharon and his children” in that parasha.

 

This gemara distinguishes between two meanings of the term “kohen.” On the one hand, a kohen is one who serves in a certain capacity.  A kohen ministers in the Mikdash and is charged with the avoda (service) of the sacrifices.  On the other hand, a kohen is a function of lineage; any male descendant of Aharon is a kohen.  When the gemara claimed that Moshe had the status of a kohen gadol, it was referring only to the role he was charged with regarding the sacrifice of the miluim.  However, the gemara could not possibly entertain the possibility that Moshe was a kohen from the genealogical perspective.  When the gemara questioned Moshe’s status as a kohen due to his inability to determine ritual impurity, it was assuming that this ability was awarded to anyone capable of functioning as a kohen.  The gemara's answer that seeing tzra’at is different because the parasha refers to Aharon and his children, means that this ability is dependent upon lineage; only Aharon and his descendants are capable of determining ritual impurity of tzara’at, and therefore Moshe is excluded. 

 

During the seven days of the miluim, Moshe served as a kohen in the Mishkan.  In other words, he served in the capacity of kohen, although he was not a kohen as far as his lineage was concerned.  As such, he could only receive portions of the korban in terms of his role as the one who does the avoda of the korban.  However, Moshe had no claim to sections reserved for Aharon and his descendants.  Since Moshe only received the chazeh, we can conclude that the chazeh is awarded to the kohen for his avoda.  The shok, on the other hand, was offered on the altar because it is reserved for the descendants of Aharon.  Regarding a standard shelamim, the kohanim, who are also descendants of Aharon, receive both the chazeh and the shok.  The Netziv takes this approach in Ha-Amek Davar (Vayikra 10:14). 

 

4.  The Miluim and the Zevach Shelamim

 

Up until this point, we have been working with the assumption that the chazeh and shok were consecrated for generations during the miluim.  The mention of the chazeh and shok in the context of the korban shelamim is merely a description of how this law should be implemented.  However, according to this understanding, we are perplexed by the detailed description of Hashem awarding the chazeh and shok to the kohanim, which is repeated in the parasha of shelamim:

 

For the chazeh ha-tenufa and the shok ha-teruma I have taken from Bnei Yisrael from their shelamim sacrifices and I have given them to Aharon and his descendants for an everlasting law from Bnei Yisrael.  This is the anointment of Aharon and the anointment of his children from [that which is offered to] Hashem, on the day that Hashem invited them to minister to Hashem.  That which Hashem commanded to give them on the day they were anointed from Bnei Yisrael, an everlasting law” (Vayikra 7:34-36). 

 

Weren’t we already informed of this in Parashat Tetzaveh (Shemot 29:27-28)? Why is repetition necessary?

 

Perhaps the halakha of chazeh and shok is rooted in two independent sources, the korban miluim as well as the korban shelamim.  On the one hand, the chazeh and shok were consecrated through the korban miluim.  With respect to the korban miluim, where Moshe filled the role of the kohen, the chazeh was awarded to him for serving in the capacity of a kohen, even though he was not a descendant of Aharon.  The shok, however, was not given to Moshe, but instead consecrated and offered on the altar. 

 

The parasha of shelamim describes an additional source for the kohen’s right to the chazeh and shok.  As we mentioned previously, the “shelamim” received its name because all have a portion in this korban – the altar, the kohanim, and the owners.  It is reasonable to assume that “kohen” in this context is a reference to certain social segment of the nation – in other words, the descendants of Aharon.  In fact, the gemara (Zevachim 99a) derives that a kohen who is disqualified from avoda due to a handicap also receives a portion of the chazeh and shok.  Therefore, we might suggest that the parasha of shelamim singles out those aspects of the chazeh and shok that are derived specifically from that parasha. 

 

As we mentioned in the name of the Netziv, the parasha of shelamim differentiates between the chazeh, which was really meant to be offered on the altar with the cheilev but was awarded to the kohen instead, and the shok, which is the portion of the kohen and was never meant for the altar.  Accordingly, the chazeh should be waved with the cheilev and the shok should be heaved separately.  However, we noted that the halakha that indicates that both the chazeh and shok are waved with the cheilev does not recognize this distinction. 

 

This halakha can be explained if we combine both sources.  The shok is waved with the cheilev to follow the paradigm of the miluim, while the connection between the chazeh and the cheilev is rooted in the parasha of shelamim. 

 

The duality of the chazeh and shok is reflected in the pesukim themselves.  Regarding the miluim, the Torah states:

 

And you shall consecrate the chazeh ha-tenufa and the shok ha-teruma … from the ram of miluim, from that of Aharon and that of his children.  (Shemot 29:27)

 

The Torah then continues:

 

And it shall be for Aharon and his children an everlasting law from Bnei Yisrael, for it is a teruma and a teruma it shall be from Bnei Yisrael from their shelamim sacrifices, a teruma to Hashem.  (pasuk 28)

 

The first pasuk refers to the ram of miluim, which was apparently a korban of the descendants of Aharon, in which Moshe serving as kohen received the chazeh.  (This does not necessarily conflict with Rashi on Vayikra 10:14, who claims that it was a shalmei tzibbur.) The second pasuk refers to the shelamim and the portion which Aharon and his descendants receive from Yisrael. 

 

In this week’s sedra, while discussing the korban shelamim, the Torah writes:

 

For the chazeh ha-tenufa and the shok ha-teruma I have taken from Bnei Yisrael from their shelamim sacrifices and I have given them to Aharon and his descendants for an everlasting law from Bnei Yisrael.  (Vayikra 7:34)

 

This pasuk, which is a paraphrase of the second pasuk in the parasha of miluim, refers to the laws of chazeh and shok rooted in the korban shelamim of Yisrael The Torah then continues:

 

This is the anointment of Aharon and the anointment of his children from [that which is offered to] Hashem, on the day that Hashem invited them to minister to Hashem.  That which Hashem commanded to give them on the day they were anointed from Bnei Yisrael, an everlasting law.” (pesukim 35-36)

 

“The day that Hashem invited them to minister” is a clear reference to the miluim, when the kohanim were initially installed. 

 

Why should the Torah mention shelamim in the parasha of the miluim and miluim in the parasha of shelamim? Might it be because the miluim and shelamim must be combined in order to perform chazeh and shok in the proper way? On the one hand, the shok belongs to the descendants of Aharon in a direct way, which we derive from the parasha of the shelamim.  On the other hand, the shok must be combined with the cheilev to eternalize the paradigm of the shelamim (in which Moshe, not Aharon or his descendants, served as kohen) in every subsequential shelamim.  The chazeh is combined with the cheilev because the descendants of Aharon receive them from the altar, as per the parasha of shelamim.  From the parasha of the miluim we learn that the kohanim also receive the chazeh for their avoda.

 

5.  Torat Ha-Miluim Revisited

 

Let us end by returning to the problem of “torat ha-meluim.” We noted various solutions to explain the mention of miluim in the summary of the korbanot.  According to Rashi, it refers to the minchat chinukh, although it is never explicitly referred as miluim.  According to the Ibn Ezra, it is a reference to the korban miluim, although it is not found in the korbanot section.  In light of the above, we can interpret miluim as a reference to the korban miluim, which does appear in this section within the context of the chazeh shok discussion:

 

This is the anointment of Aharon and the anointment of his children from [that which is offered to] Hashem, on the day that Hashem invited them to minister to Hashem.  That which Hashem commanded to give them on the day they were anointed from Bnei Yisrael, an everlasting law.” (pesukim 35-36)

 

This also may explain the location of the reference of the miluim, which is mentioned adjacent to shelamim.