By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
These are the Clothes They Shall Make
Even at times when the kohanim cannot serve in the Beit HaMikdash, Torah still mandates that one is to differentiate the kohanic family from all other families of Israel, to bless the People, to give them teruma and the kohanic gifts, and to honor him especially, as it says ‘you shall sanctify him’. Nevertheless, because there is some unclarity as to verification of true kohanim, the custom is not to give teruma to kohanim today, as eating teruma by a non-kohen is a serious prohibition. Even in regard to blessing the People there is uncertainty why kohanim of today, whose status is unclear, can bless the People, since our Sages learn from the verse of Birkat kohanim that there is a prohibition for non-kohanim to bless the People. One explanation found in the poskim is that this prohibition pertains only to the Beit HaMikdash where the People are blessed while using the Tetragammaton which is not so outside the Beit HaMikdash. Another explanation is that only matters that involve physical benefit such as teruma are kohanim suspected to not be fully honest as to their priesthood, until their status is fully verified, while in regard to other matters such as blessing the People, receiving precedence in reading the Torah, etc. there is no need of suspicion. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that even today there is an obligation to honor the Kohanim, and to give him priority in various matters, as the Torah says “you shall sanctify him (the Kohen).”
RabbiYohanan called his clothing “his honor,” a matter that is hinted to in our parsha when the Torah says that the Kohanic clothing in the Temple should be an “honor and beauty.” The identification of clothing with “honor” also sheds light on the honor, in general, that is required to be bestowed towards the Kohanim. Examining this matter more deeply we find that Onkelos translates “the Honor of Hashem” as “the Holy Presence. Based on this, we may say that the honor given to the Kohanim and their clothing, i.e their “honor,” all reflect the Grand Honor, the Holy Presence before which the Kohanim serve in the Beit Hamikdash.
According to this, we may understand why Hashem describes the spies who talked against the Holy Land as “those who disgrace Me,” since talking against the Land of the Holy Presence is tantamount to talking against the “Honor of Hashem,” i.e disgracing Hashem, God forbid. However, Kaleb stood in opposition to these spies through the great spirit of Hebron, Beacon of the Holy Land, which gives honor to the Holy Land. This is Hebron, the leading Kohanic city in the Holy Land (see Joshua 21, 11).
Real Stories from the Holy Land #302
A baby boy was born to Baruch and Sarah Nachshon in 1975. Three months later, Sarah found Avraham Yedidya dead in his crib. Sarah decides that Avraham Yedidya would be buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. The cemetery had been last used to inter the 67 Jews slaughtered in the 1929 riots in Hebron. However, since then the cemetery had been off limits to Jews. Late afternoon: the funeral procession leaves Kir-yat Arba for the ancient Jewish cemetery in Hebron. Then, suddenly the mourners encounter soldiers and roadblocks! The cars come to a halt. Soldiers say: “No, you may not proceed to the cemetery. The cemetery is off-limits”. One of the car doors opens. Sarah gets out with a bundle in her arms. She addresses the soldiers, “Here is my baby, in my arms. If you won’t let us drive to the cemetery we will walk!” Senior officers give orders over their walkie-talkies: “Stop them—don’t let them proceed”—but the soldiers, overcome by the scene, radio back: “We can’t stop them. If you want to stop them come down here and do it yourselves”. The procession continues up the steep hill to the ancient cemetery. Sarah Nachshon releases the body of her tiny son, Avraham Yedidya, and it is lowered into the freshly dug grave. Mustering her voice, Sarah utters: “Four thousand years ago our Patriarch Abraham purchased Hebron for the Jewish People by burying his wife Sarah here. Tonight Sarah is repurchasing Hebron for the Jewish People by burying her son Avraham here”.
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