Friday, June 21, 2024

the significance of repetition -- lomdus to answer to a Shaar haMelech posted years ago

A mere sixteen years ago when the daf hayomi was doing Nazir I posted a kashe of the Shaar haMelech that I left unanswered. There are Rishonim who hold that given the choice of shechting meat for a choleh on shabbos or feeding the choleh neveila, it is better to violate shabbos.  Even though shabbos is an issur sekilah and neveila is just an issur lav, you potentially violate the issur neveila with every kzayis eaten, multiple times, but violate shabbos only once if you do the shechita.  It is better therefore to minimize the number of issurim.  R' Yosef Engel has an piece that he devotes to discussing the issue of quantity vs. quality, kamus vs eichus.  Here you have it -- kamus trumps eichus, quantity is more important than quality.

Here's the problem.  The Mishna in Nazir (47) talks about a meis mitzvah found by a kohen gadol and nazir.  Who should bury the body?  Neither one is allowed to become tamei, so which is the lesser evil?  

The Ramban tells us that a nazir who is metamei himself violates four separate issurim (Nazir 5:21):

הא למדת שהנזיר שטמא עצמו לוקה ארבע מלקיות משום לא יטמא ומשום לא יחל דברו ומשום לא תאחר לשלמו ומשום לא יבוא אם היתה ביאה וטומאה כאחת כמו שבארנו:

You would think therefore that the kohen gadol should be metamei himself since he violates only one issur.  Yet that is not how the Chachamim rule, or how the Rambam paskens (Nazir 7:13):

נזיר וכהן שפגעו במת מצוה יטמא נזיר אע"פ שהוא סותר הימים הראשונים ומביא קרבן טומאה. ואל יטמא כהן שזה קדושתו קדושת שעה ואפילו היה נזיר עולם והכהן קדושתו קדושת עולם:

Why in this case, asks Shaar haMelech (Maachalos Assuros 14:17), don't we apply the principle that quantity trumps quality, i.e. that even though the kohen gadol has a more chamur kedusha,  קדושתו קדושת עולם, the fact that the nazir violates multiple lavim make it the greater evil?

The Minchas Chinuch (376:6) has an answer, but I want to share with you my wife's grandfather's (R' Dov Yehudah Shochet) answer since it relates to our parsha and is beautiful amkus in understanding the sugya.

Rashi explains the smichus ha'parshiyos between the gifts of the nesiim and hadlakas hamenorah:

למה נסמכה פרשת המנורה לחנוכת הנשיאים, כשראה אהרן חנוכת הנשיאים, חלשה דעתו כשלא היה עמהם בחנוכה, לא הוא ולא שבטו. אמר לו הקב״ה: חייך, שלך גדולה משלהם, שאתה מדליק ומטיב את הנרות בקר וערב.

Many of the mefoshim are bothered by Rashi's contention that שלך גדולה משלהם.  What makes lighting the menorah greater than the gifts of the korbanos?  How do we weigh one mitzvah against another?

My wife's grandfather (see my wife's post) suggested that what makes lighting the menorah greater is the fact that it was done every day, as opposed to the gifts of the nesiim were a one time deal.  Something done repeatedly outweighs something that is a once time event.  

He proves that sevara from the din we just saw above: the lav of neveila outweighs the lav of shabbos even though shabbos has a stricter punishment because the lav of neveila would be violated repeatedly in eating.  Repetition gives something significance and weight.

[Editorial note: We can learn a yesod in shalom bayis from here as well. What you do repeatedly day in and day out carries more weight in a relationship than a grand gesture of a big present for an anniversary or birthday.]

In that proof lies a subtle difference from the way others, like R' Yosef Engel, understood the sugya.  It's not the number of lavim involved in the issur neveila that makes it more chamur (kamus vs eichus), but rather it's the repetition of the lavim, the fact that the person earing takes bite after bite, repeating the issur again and again.  

M'meila, we can answer the Shaar haMelech's question.  The case of the nazir and kohen gadol who chance upon a meis mitzvah is a one time occurrence.  There (hopefully) will never be a repetition of that same scenario.  Therefore, even though the nazir violates more issurim, that does not outweigh the kedushas kohen gadol.  

Hope this was worth the 16 year wait : )

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