Monday, June 21, 2010

kilayim in bigdei kehunah

The Rambam writes in the last halacha in Hil. Kilayim (10:32) that kohanim may not wear bigdei kehunah (which contained kilayim) when not performing avodah. A kohein who does so is liable for malkos. Ra’avad disagrees and writes that kohanim may wear bigdei kehunah even if they are not engaged in avodah so long as they remain in the mikdash. I don’t have time for a full analysis of the machlokes, but do want to point out a Midrash Rabbah on Parshas Chukas which comments on Aharon’s death:

והלא אם יצא כהן גדול בבגדי כהונה חוץ מהר הבית, סופג את הארבעים, שהם צמר ופשתים, אלא להודיעך, שבלשון שקרבו לכהונה ואמר לו: קח את אהרן, בו בלשון אמר לו לעלות ההר

In finding fault with Aharon wearing the bigdei kehunah outside the mikdash, the Midrash seems to clearly side with the Ra’avad. What would the Rambam make of this? Without getting into the details, one method to defend the Rambam (see Ha’amek She’eilah to She’ilta 126 - p. 13 in the standard edition) would be to prove that the Midrash is an isolated view which the gemara disagrees with. I'm putting this one on the back burner for another time.


  1. Anonymous2:11 AM

    i think some are metaretz that this aliya lehar was a form of avodah

  2. R' Shternbruch says this -- sounds too much like derush for my taste.

  3. 1. To Anonymous: even if going to die was avodah, Chaim's point was that the Medrash says "im yatza...", which supports the Raavad, because according to the Rambam, it's not "im yatza," it's "im lavash shelo besha'as avodah."

    2. To Chaim: Even the Rambam agrees that for the Kohen Gadol, wearing the begadim is itself avodah. The machlokes is only by a kohen hediot. I don't know if the Rambam notes this point, but it's true anyway. I'll try to find the makor later. If so, everyone would agree with the words "im yatza," because it's only an avodah when he's in the Azara.

  4. since when do we accept HALACHA based on a MEDRASH?


  5. Chiluk bet. kohein gadol and hedyot is found in the Radbaz.

    This is not an aggadic story - the Midrash itself is staking out a position on a halachic issue. Why would you not use it as a makor (I haven't seen anyone not use it for that reason.)