Bringing the Shechinah Into Our Homes

V’hayah al Aharon l’shareis v’nishma kolo b’vo’o el HaKodesh lifnei Hashem uv’tzeiso v’lo yamus (Shemos 28:35)

The Gemara in Pesachim (112a) records that Rabi Akiva gave seven commands to his son Rabi Yehoshua. One of them was that he shouldn’t enter his house suddenly. In his commentary on the Gemara, the Rashbam quotes a Midrash which relates that whenever he approached his home, Rabi Yochanan would intentionally make noise to alert anybody who may be inside to his imminent arrival.

Rabi Yochanan explained his actions by quoting our verse, which requires the Kohen Gadol to have bells on the hem of his Me’il (Robe) so that they will make noise to announce his approach whenever he enters Hashem’s Sanctuary. How could an individual person, even one as great as Rabi Yochanan or Rabi Akiva, derive guidelines for proper conduct from the Torah’s laws for the Kohen Gadol, who was subject to special stringencies due to the sanctity of the Temple in which he served?

The Mishmeres Ariel answers based on a Gemara in Sotah (17a), which teaches that if a husband and wife dwell together in peace and harmony, the Shechinah will rest between them and fill their home with an atmosphere of holiness. In light of this teaching, we can understand that any man with a successful marriage must recognize that the Shechinah resides in his home and conduct appropriate for the Kohen Gadol is required.

Lest one think that these lofty levels were only for previous generations, a modern-day example of such behavior can be found in a beautiful story involving Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l. Somebody was once discussing an important issue with him on his way home. As they walked through the streets of Yerushalayim, Rav Shlomo Zalman suddenly paused to straighten and clean his clothes.

As his clothing didn’t appear disheveled, the man inquired about the cause of the Rav’s actions. The saintly Rav replied that he had been blessed for decades to live in peace and tranquility with his wonderful wife. They were fortunate to feel Hashem as a regular Presence in their home. As he turned the block to approach his house, Rav Shlomo Zalman felt compelled to ensure that his appearance was appropriate for the important Guest that he was about to greet!

In light of such daily behavior, it shouldn’t be surprising to note that at his wife’s funeral, Rav Shlomo Zalman announced that at the funeral of one’s spouse it is customary to ask forgiveness from the deceased for anything he may have done or said that caused pain. However, he continued, “I have no need to do so, for I can say with complete confidence that in almost 54 years of marriage, I never once upset or hurt her in any way, and there is nothing for which I need to ask her forgiveness.”

Although marriage brings its daily challenges for even the most compatible of spouses, we can begin to overcome them by viewing our efforts to keep the peace as bringing the Divine Presence into our homes, where It will dwell amidst an atmosphere of happiness and harmony.

Parashah Q & A

Q:If female kohanim would be permitted to serve in the Beis Hamikdash, would they be allowed to wear the garments of the kohanim, or would doing so violate the prohibition (Devarim 22:5) against wearing men’s clothing?

Q:Rashi writes (28:30) that the Kohen Gadol was able to ask questions of Hashem via the Urim V’Tumim inside the Choshen. The letters forming the answer to his question either lit up or protruded. Did they do so simultaneously, requiring his knowledge to properly arrange them, or did they sequentially spell out the answer for him?

A: Any woman who is the daughter of a kohen is a kohenes (unless she loses this status by marrying a Levi or Yisrael), who theoretically could be permitted to serve in the Beis Hamikdash just like male kohanim. The Mishnah (Kiddushin 36a) rules that acts of Divine Service are invalid if performed by a female kohen. Tosafos (36b d.h. chutz) questions why this can’t be derived from the fact that even male kohanim who perform the Divine Service without wearing the requisite garments invalidate it. Tosafos answers that the Mishnah is discussing a case in which a woman is wearing the garments of the kohanim. Harav Yosef Engel questions how a woman is permitted to wear these male garments. He answers that if female kohanim would be permitted to perform the Divine Service, they would also need to wear the garments. In this case, the garments would be considered made for both men and women, in which case no prohibition would apply. He proves this from the Maharsha (Nedarim 49b), who explains that Rav Yehudah and his wife were permitted to share a robe because it is a garment made for both genders. Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zt”l, disagrees with the proof and argues that even if women were allowed to perform the Divine Service, they would transgress the prohibition against wearing men’s clothing if they wore the garments of the kohanim. Nevertheless, their actions would be valid if they did so, and if no male kohen was available, they would be permitted to serve due to the Talmudic principle of “Aseh docheh lo sa’aseh” — one may transgress a negative prohibition if this is the only way to perform a positive commandment.

A:The Ramban writes that this occurred simultaneously, requiring Divine inspiration to correctly assemble the letters and understand the answer. Rav Saadiah Gaon disagrees and maintains that the letters appeared one after the other so that there would be no room for doubt or misinterpretation. The Maharsha suggests that the answer to this question is a dispute between two Talmudic Sages.


 

Originally from Kansas City, Rabbi Ozer Alport graduated from Harvard, learned in Mir Yerushalayim for five years, and now lives in Brooklyn, where he learns in Yeshivas Beis Yosef, is the author of the recently-published sefer Parsha Potpourri, and gives weekly shiurim. To send comments to the author or to receive his Divrei Torah weekly, please email oalport@Hamodia.com.