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Friday, April 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Acharei Mos / Kedoshim

At the end of this week's parsha, we are instructed (20:25), "vehivdaltem bein habeheimah hatehorah latemei'ah uvein ha'of hatamei latahor." We are told to distinguish between the animals and birds that are tamei and tahor. However, there is an obvious discrepancy in the pasuk. For animals we are told to distinguish between tahor and tamei, while for birds we are told to distinguish between tamei and tahor. The order of tahor and tamei is switched.


Chizkuni offers an interesting approach to this problem. When you have a mixture of a majority and a minority, the act of distinguishing generally entails picking the minority out from within the majority. He writes that it is known that within the group of animals there are far fewer tahor animals than tamei. Therefore, the havdalah is the tahor from the tamei. However, in the bird family, there are a greater number of tahor birds than tamei birds. Therefore, the Torah tells us to distinguish the tamei ones.


Perhaps there is another explanation for this discrepancy. The Torah, in telling us what animals we may eat, gave us signs of a tahor animal. Therefore, when we are distinguishing, we are picking out the tahor animals by means of the signs the Torah gave us. That is why "tahor" is first. With the birds, however, the Torah merely told us which birds are tamei. Therefore, the distinguishing process involves picking out the tamei birds. That is why "tamei" is first.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: A Revealing Note
Dikdukian: Stand up, goat!
Dikdukian: Mitum'os: Watch that plural

Dikdukian: Qualification of the AHOY rule

Dikdukian: Sukas David

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