Pearls of Rashi – Emor

The beginning of this week’s Parshah, Emor, discusses the prohibition against Kohanim allowing themselves to become ritually impure, Tomei. The very first verse of the Torah portion is (Vayikroh 21:1) “Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Say to the Kohanim the sons of Aharon, and say to them, “Let none of you become Tomei for a dead person among his people.’’”

Rashi cites the words “say to the Kohanim” and explains “’Say…and you shall say.’ This is written in order to admonish the adult Kohanim to be responsible for the minors (that they must not contaminate themselves).” Rashi is explaining to us that this verse comes to teach us that adult Kohanim are responsible to make sure that (even) Kohanim who are children do not become Tomei.

We know that Rashi is extremely particular and precise with the words which he uses in his comments. The Hebrew word “Lehazhir – להזהיר” which we have translated “admonish” is more literally “to warn.” There were other words which Rashi could have chosen. Why did he choose this particular word?

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, writes that the word “Lehazhir” is also related to the word “Zohar – זוהר.” This word means radiance or light. Hence Rashi’s choice of words carries a far deeper implication. Rashi is teaching us that when one teaches a child, whether it’s a child in years or in knowledge, he must do so with a “radiant” face. He must treat his students with love. If he does so, not only will the student benefit. This will also cause the teacher to grow.

Wishing one and all a Good Shabbos and a “radiant” summer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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