Saturday, April 28, 2007

Emor 1 - R' Zechariah ben Avkulos defended

In the story of Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza (Gittin 55b-56a), the question of what to do with a korban sent by the Roman emperor that had a minor blemish was brought before the Sanhedrin HaGadol. The first proposal was to offer the korban, despite the prohibition of such stated in this week's parsha, due to the real political concerns that the Romans would take their refusal to be an act of rebellion. However, R' Zechariah ben Avkulos rejected the possibility, as people might not realize that the reason why the blemished sacrifice was offered was due to the extenuating circumstances that existed. After the gemara sets forth another proposal that R' Zechariah ben Avkulos shot down, Rabbi Yochanan sums up the incident by stating, "The humility of R' Zechariah ben Avkulos destroyed our Temple, burnt our sanctuary, and caused us to be exiled from our land"; because R' Zechariah was unwilling to take the bold step of suspending a halacha for reasons of national survival, disaster ensued.

What was R' Zechariah ben Avkulos thinking? He must have realized the danger that a rejection of the Roman sacrifice would cause!

R' Zalman Sorotzkin, in Oznayim LaTorah finds an answer to this question alluded to in this week's parsha. In explaining why one is not allowed to accept a blemished korban, the passuk states (22:25):
"ומיד בן נכר לא תַקריבו את לחם אלקיכם מכל אלה כי משחתם בהם מום בם לא ירצו לכם" -
"And from the non-Jew, you shall not offer the bread of your God from any of these (species of blemished animals) for their corruption is in them - a blemish is in them - they shall not be accepted for you". R' Sorotzkin suggests that the corruption and blemish referred to in this passuk is not the disfigurement of the animal, but rather the spiritual disfigurement caused by the sins of avodah zarah and murder (see Devarim 4:16 and Bereishis 6:11), and that the subject of the last clause of the verse is not the sacrifices being accepted by HaShem, but rather the attitude of the nation in question being positively inclined towards the Jew.

Hence, the verse can be read as a warning that one should not accept korbanos for political reasons from nations like Rome, as, even if the Jews were to weather one crisis by accepting a blemished sacrifice, it would still only be a matter of time until the Romans laid the land waste anyway, and this small respite would not provide sufficient reason to violate halacha.

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At 9/09/2015 10:04 PM, Blogger סֵפֶר "Bar Kamtza. 2007" said...

Who is Bar Kamtza??? Here is the answer:


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