Heavenly Hash

Iyar 14, 5783
May 5, 2023
Candlelighting Time 7:40 PM

            The Kohanim were selected to offer our sacrifices in the Mishkan and later in the Beis Hamikdash. And there are commitments they have due to their service. They are prohibited from certain marriages and contact with a corpse is banned. The severity of banned marriages is such that they are subject to lashes if they transgress that restriction. The Torah defines their restraint because they serve in the Beis Hamikdash and offer to Hashem His ‘bread’ or as Rashi explains His ‘meal’. If we are to understand this injunction literally, it would seem that Hashem ‘consumes’ the offerings that are brought on the altar. Of course, this seems absurd and therefore we must delve further into this matter to obtain a better understanding of what the Torah indeed means.

            The commentators explain that the purpose of the sacrifices was to link up the heavens with the earth. We, the earthbound creations, have a strong identification with that which is physical and earthy. However, our mission is to elevate ourselves and attain a degree of purity and virtue that will transform us from the material basis that we are formed of to a level of righteousness and integrity that will transcend the debased nature of this world. Therefore, when we ‘feed’ the heavens, we are actually performing mitzvos and studying Torah which, in turn, nourish the fundamental underpinnings of this world. The tremendous beneficial graciousness of Hashem shines upon us when we are worthy of that connection. If and when we decide to turn our attention heavenward and access that Divine consideration and benevolence which is constantly and consistently showered upon us, then we become its recipients.     

Therefore, the Kohanim are obligated to conduct themselves in a fashion which behooves their status. Since they are the link between us, the Jewish people and Hashem, any aberration from the accepted standard will determine a lack of connection between us and Hashem due to the severance that they are creating. And they are obligated to maintain our relationship with Hashem and therefore an extreme measure is applied to them if they do not live up to their responsibility. If they marry illegally, they are liable to receive lashes to force them to divorce their wife that is prohibited to them.     
            Although we do not have their obligatory prohibitions, nonetheless the previous parsha addressed the issue of living in a sanctified fashion. The famed Rosh Yeshiva Rav Shimon Shkop in the preface to one of his commentaries on the Talmud explains our duty to adopt a life of sanctity in the following manner. We are commanded to emulate Hashem, the epitome of purity, who provides the entire creation with its needs. As the Sages point out, the smallest creation to the largest are cared for by Hashem. Certainly, we cannot impart to others from our resources in a way at all similar to Hashem, but we can afford others from our assets to the best of our ability. And that is the lesson that we derive from the Kohanim who are duty-bound to fashion their lives in a manner that will be very prolific in catering to the needs for the rest of the nation and mankind in general. In the words of a great Torah sage to his prominent son, we are here to serve and help others, not for ourselves. With that theme in mind, we will search to upgrade our conduct to please Hashem in the best possible way.


The esrog is the most pleasing of the four items that we shake on Succos. It has a good smell and also is tasty. It is alluding to the Torah scholar, the elite of our people. During the mitzvah, we hold them together. When it is appropriate, we all come together to serve Hashem. However, once we have accomplished that worthy goal, then the esrog separates from the other three that remain bound together and returns to its own position.               CHOFETZ CHAIM