Parshat Emor 5784: Impure Forces and the Hostages of 7 October?

Parshat Emor 5784: Impure Forces and the Hostages of 7 October?

by Moshe Burt

In Parsha Emor, we learn how the Avodah, the Service of the Kohanim necessitated them “…to maintain an especially high standard of purity and perfection.” (L’lmod L’Lamed, Rabbi Mordechai Katz, Parsha Emor, page 119) These high standards of purity and perfection demanded of Kohanim seem to this author to take on added significance regarding Kohen-Eligibility of captured women for marriage in our current days in 5784.

Shem Mishmuel (Sefer Shem Mishmuel, Parsha Emor, page 273) explains the function of the Kohen and the manifestation of his Kedusha in this way:

The job of the Kohen is to join the physical world to it’s spiritual counterpart. He performs the Avodah in the Beit HaMikdash, the place where heaven meets earth. There he brings the fire of Hashem upon the Mizbei’ach [Altar], a service which joins the physical earth to Hashem. The very nature of the Kohen is to join two opposite entities… This trait is fundamental to his ability to carry out his role in life. It therefore follows that anything which destroys his capability as a “joiner” should be assiduously avoided.

In previous vorts on Parshat Emor, this author has cited Sefer Shem Mishmuel on our Parsha (page 274) in the name of the Arizal, that prior to death, a person is attacked by impure forces:

“The holy soul which rests within a person can’t bear to be connected with those forces and departs from the body to alleviate it’s discomfort. This is the moment of death. The tumah induces a split between the body and soul which is totally opposite of the Kohen’s role as a unifier or ‘joiner.’”

We learn that it is for these reasons that the Kohen is held to a higher level of behavior, morality and spiritual purity than the rest of the Jewish people. This higher level reflects itself in restrictions, such as to the Kohen’s exposure to tumah (impurity), i.e. the immediate relatives (wife, offspring, siblings and parents, or an unattended Jewish corpse) being the only ones for which the Kohen’s priestly responsibility is superseded by responsibility as a family member or human being to care for the burial of the deceased.

In a previous vorts, this author focused on this higher level as reflected in restrictions as to whom the Kohen is permitted to marry, i.e. divorced women, women who converted to Judaism, women of Jewish mother/gentile father, women who have ever been intimate with a non-Jew and women with the status of Chalutza (widowed woman who bore no offspring to their now-deceased husband) are all denied halachically to the Kohen. The Kohen Godol also has the further restriction that he may only wed a virgin.

The Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash renders Sefer Vayikra, Perek 21, posuk 7 to English:

“They [Kohanim] shall not marry a woman who is a harlot or has been desecrated….”

Such desecration, and its consequential impact, faces the women unfortunately taken hostage, abused and violated by the barbarous animals of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their terrorist buddies, including their collaborators among the so-called “innocent Gazan civilians.” The barbaric desecration of these Jewish woman by these sub-human animals of Hamas and friends would impact existing marriages, causing divorce, where captured women are married to Kohanim, as well as forbid the single women captured and violated from marrying Kohanim.

Gemara Mesechta Ketubot Daf 23 (Choof Gimel), near the end of Amud Alef (Side one) discusses the issue of women captured and whether their testimony of being pure despite their capture, in the absence of witnesses to the contrary, would permit or forbid them to a Kohen.

We have heard and read of accounts of at least two released women hostages indicating: here and here that all of the women taken hostage were violated.

The above Gemara also brought this author to recall, with sadness, reading in the early 1990s of the horrendous attack and murdering of a Jewish woman in Crown Heights as she entered her home, hands full with groceries. This woman fought, not only for her life, but for her marriage as she was married to a Kohen. This author had previously been a guest in their home for Shabbos on two occasions.

Shem Mishmuel now brings from a gemara a description of the ideal marriage with sources (pages 274-275) :

“Rabbi Akiva expounded: a man and a woman, if they so merit, the Divine Presence rests between them; if they do not merit, fire consumes them.” (Shem Mishmuel citing Sotah, 17a)

“The Divine Presence rests between them” — for He splits His Name and rested it between them: a yud in ish (man) and a hei in ishah (woman).

“If they do not merit, fire consumes them.” — For Hashem removes His Name from between them, leaving eish (fire) and eish. By way of explanation, the Hebrew word for “man,” ish, and the word for “woman,” ishah, each consist of the word eish (fire) plus one of the letters of the Divine Name… If, however, they do not merit, Hashem, as it were, withdraws His Name from the couple, leaving just eish and eish — a consuming fire.

This name [yud and hei] expresses the conjunction of the physical world and the spiritual world, as Chazal tell us: Olam HaZeh [this world] was created with a hei and Olam HaBah [the world to come; spiritual world] was created by a yud.

When a couple divorces, this power conjuction, symbolized by the name Yah, is removed from them. They return to eish, a consuming fire, and thus must part company. Instead of having the power to unify, the divorced couple are left with a sense of division and disunity. Thus, a divorced woman is no longer in a spiritual position to marry a Kohen, whose very being demands contact only with unifying forces. …Her relationship with a Kohen would frustrate his personal mission. This may be the basis behind this interesting gemara:

“When a divorce’ marries a divorcee, there are four views in the marital bed.” (Shem Mishmuel citing Pesachim 112a)

Four, the number of directions on a compass, always represents the opposite of unity — spreading in four directions rather than retaining oneness. Chazal intend to tell us that despite their remarriage each partner has lost, through his or her divorce, the innate ability to be solely unified with one person. As such, a divorcee may not marry a Kohen.

This concept of the “four views in the marital bed” cited by Shem Mishmuel would seem applicable to captured and defiled Jewish woman as well, thus ussuring her to a Kohen..

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and that the Chayalim return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.