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Please include Israel's captive soldiers in your tefillot: Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam Baumel, Tzvi ben Penina Feldman, Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah Katz, Ron ben Batya Arad, Guy ben Rina Chever.



Friday,  27 Tammuz 5774 – July 25, 2014             


This week's SALT shiurim are dedicated in memory of my grandfather
Rav Yehuda Leib Silverberg z"l, whose yahrzeit is
Sunday 22 Tamuz, July 20th


            As we’ve discussed in our last two editions of S.A.L.T., the Gemara in Masekhet Makkot (11a) views the kohen gadol as responsible for fatal accidents that occur among Am Yisrael.  Someone who kills accidentally must reside in an ir miklat (“city of refuge”) until the kohen gadol’s death, and the Gemara explains this law as intended to punish the kohen gadol.  Since the kohen gadol failed to pray for his generation’s safety and wellbeing, the killer will be anxiously awaiting and praying for the kohen gadol’s death so he can return home. 

            The Maharsha, commenting in the Gemara’s remark, writes that the kohen gadol is held accountable for such tragedies because his Yom Kippur prayers are to include a plea that they do not occur.  The kohen gadol recited a special prayer as he stood in the kodesh ha-kodashim during the Yom Kippur service, and the Maharsha writes that the kohen gadol was to pray “for the atonement of sin so that the decree would be annulled and [the victim] would not be killed, and also that the wicked would repent from their iniquity and evil decrees against them would be annulled.”  In other words, he was to pray for the annulment of harsh decrees, so that nobody would fall victim to deadly negligence, and also that the wicked should repent, so that killings – both intentional and inadvertent – would not occur.  As he evidently failed to recite such prayers, the kohen gadol is put in a situation where somebody is praying for his death. 

            According to the Maharsha, it is specifically at those special moments, when the kohen gadol entered the inner sanctum of the Mikdash on Yom Kippur to atone for the nation, that he is to pray on behalf of “the wicked,” those prone to accidental murder.  Intuitively, we might have assumed that during those moments, on the holiest day in the holiest place, the kohen gadol must keep his mind focused on lofty matters and direct his attention as far away as possible from the lower elements of the nation.  Remarkably, however, the precise opposite is true.  Particularly then, the kohen gadol’s mind is to be directed toward the sinners of Israel, on whose behalf he is to beseech the Almighty.  From the Torah’s perspective, the purpose of “holiness” is not to ignore or turn away from sinners, but to the contrary, to help them, to feel concerned for them, and to do what one can to lead them to change.  At the most somber, sacred moments of the year, the nation’s spiritual leader is to pray specifically for the sinners, for those who need his prayers the most.  And if he fails to do so, the Gemara teaches, then he has failed in his role, to the extent that God puts his constituents in a position where they pray for his downfall. 

(Based on a sicha of the Tolna Rebbe)


Rav David Silverberg       



 This week's SALTs in one file - available on Thursday of each week.

Comments are welcome.

(c) 2014 Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash, Yeshivat Har Etzion.











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