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Friday, June 10

The Weekly Shitkle - Beha'alosecha

    The Torah recounts that as B'nei Yisroel brought what would be their only Korban Pesach during their sojourn in the desert, there were individuals who were "temei meis" and thus unable to participate. There is a discussion in the gemara (Sukkah 25a) as to who in fact these individuals were. R' Yosei HaGelili suggests they were the ones in charge of transporting the body of Yoseif. Rabbi Akiva is of the opinion that it was Misha'eil and Eltzaphan who were instructed to remove Nadav and Avihu's bodies from the mishkan. Finally, Rabbi Yitzchak discounts the first two opinions and posits that these were individuals who had become tamei as a result of a "meis mitzvah."
 
    It is somewhat intriguing that the approach taken in the gemara is that there was something special and unique about this group. Although, it is not unusual for a midrashic source to fill in the blanks in a pasuk, even if there is no compelling evidence that there is something missing. However, there is a question to be asked on the first two opinions. Why is it that R' Yosei and R' Akiva assume that these individuals were part of a single group, that they were all temei meis for the same reason? Could there not have been more than one cause for these people to be tamei?
 
    The Torah's introduction to this story is as follows (9:6) "Vayehi anashim asher hayu temei'im lenefesh adam." One would have expected the pasuk to read "vayihyu anashim" in the plural. But instead, the singular "vayehi" is used in reference to a group of people. Perhaps R' Yosei and R' Akiva understand that the pasuk is specifically worded this way to convey that although there were a number of individuals were tamei, they were all tamei for the same reason.
 

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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