Pearls of Rashi – Emor

This week’s Parshah, Emor, begins by discussing the prohibition against Kohanim allowing themselves to become ritually impure, Tomei. In the very first verse of the Torah portion Hashem tells Moshe to[1] “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 warn the adult Kohanim to be responsible for the minors (not to allow them to 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, meaning ritually impure.

We know that Rashi is extremely particular and precise with the words which he uses in his comments. The literal meaning of the Hebrew word “Lehazhir – להזהיר” is “to warn.” There were other words which Rashi could have chosen to express this same concept. Why did he choose this particular word?

The previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, writes that the word “Lehazhir – להזהיר” has a deeper meaning. It is also related to the word “Zohar – [2]זוהר.” This word means radiance or light. The form of the verb is causative. The simple meaning of the word “זהיר – Zahir” means careful. Therefore, the word “Lehazhir – להזהיר” means to cause one to be careful, i.e. to warn someone. Based on the Previous Rebbe’s translation of the word, “Lehazhir – להזהיר” would mean to cause another to shine.

Based on the above, 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. By so doing the student will have the greatest benefit, and will shine.

Additionally, based on this, the words can be translated “to cause the adult Kohanim to shine through the minors. The result of teaching children with love enhances the teachers’ level as well.

This is in keeping with the teaching of the Sages[3]; “when a student approaches a teacher and asks to be taught Torah, Hashem illuminates the eyes of both the teacher and the student.”

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

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 7, Pages 151-152

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Vayikroh 21:1.

[2]. Sefer Hamaamorim 5708, Page 240.

[3]. Talmud Temurah 16, a.

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