For the week ending 4 October 2014 / 10 Tishri 5775

Yevamot 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • What is yibum?
  • The 15 women who are not eligible for yibum
  • The tzarah – other, unrelated wife of deceased brother- and her ineligibility
  • Reasons for the order of the mishnah
  • What the numbers mentioned in mishnah intend to limit
  • Torah source for ineligibility of those 15 women
  • When a positive command clashes with a prohibition
  • The method of semuchim – deriving a rule from the proximity of Torah passages to one another
  • Application of this method to shatnez
  • Learning from the rule that a metzora must cut his hair and beard for purification
  • Learning from the rule that neither honoring parents nor building the Sanctuary can justify violation of Shabbat
  • Respect which must be shown to Beit Hamikdash
  • No execution on Shabbat and why we might have assumed otherwise
  • The rules of interpretation when a particular of a general category is mentioned separately
  • Can the cancellation made by the Torah of one prohibition in favor of a positive command be applied to a concurrent prohibition
  • Is the ban on a spiritually impure person entering TempleMount before sunset of his day of immersion in a mikveh of Torah or rabbinic origin
  • What is derived from the fact that the Torah compared all forbidden relatives to one another
  • The status of a tzarah when yibum is not involved

The Murderous Kohen

  • Yevamot 7a

A kohen who has committed murder is disqualified from performing any sacrificial service. "From My altar," orders the Torah (Shmot 21:14), "take him away to be executed."

Since this rule is in force even if there is no other kohen to perform the service in the Beit Hamikdash, the gemara concludes that the need to execute the murderer supersedes the need to perform the sacrificial service.

Tosefot challenges this conclusion by suggesting that preventing the murderer from performing the service is based on the fact that he is personally disqualified rather than on his execution superseding the service. This disqualification would be similar to that of a kohen who killed someone, even involuntarily, and is therefore not eligible to raise his hands to utter the priestly blessings.

There is a difference between the two cases is the conclusion of Tosefot. In the case of raising the hands to bless the congregation it is unfitting for the very hands which shed blood to be an instrument for blessing since "the prosecutor cannot be the defender". This does not apply to the qualification of a murderous kohen for sacrificial service, so that preventing him from performing such service must be viewed as proof that execution of a murderer supersedes sacrificial service. (See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 128:35 in regard to whether a repentant kohen can perform the priestly blessing.)

What the Sages Say

"The Torah, in the same passage, commands us to observe the Shabbat and show respect to the Sanctuary in order to teach us that just as Shabbat observance is forever, so too must respect be shown to the site of the Beit Hamikdash even after it has been destroyed."

  • Beraita (Yevamot 6b)

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