Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

והכהן המשיח תחתיו מבניו יעשה אתה

The Kohen from among his sons who is anointed in his place shall perform it. (6:15)

Download PDF

The pasuk refers to a Kohen Gadol who is anointed when he assumes the office of the High Priesthood as the successor to Aharon HaKohen. Concerning Shemos 28:1, “Now you bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother, and his sons with him,” the Midrash comments (Shemos Rabbah 37:4), “When Hashem said these words (Take Aharon your brother and his sons), Moshe Rabbeinu became ill at ease. (He felt bad that he would not serve as Kohen Gadol.) Hashem told him, “I had the Torah, and I gave it to you. If not for it, I would have destroyed My world.” (This is how valuable the Torah is – and I gave it to you to be My agent to teach it to Klal Yisrael.) Hashem was reassuring Moshe, saying to him that the gift He gave him was greater.

This begs elucidation. Do we have doubt about Moshe’s abiding love for his brother? Do we question the unmitigated joy Moshe experienced knowing that Aharon would become the Kohen Gadol? Yet, Chazal seem to be intimating otherwise. Furthermore, Chazal (Zevachim 102a) teach that Moshe (also) served as Kohen Gadol throughout the seven-days of Milluim, Inauguration. Horav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, zl, explains that, indeed, Moshe had no issue whatsoever with Aharon assuming the position of Kohen Gadol. It was concerning his sons that he felt a twinge of envy (for lack of a better word). He wondered why such a convention did not also apply to the crown of Torah. In other words, Moshe, too, would have liked to see his sons ascend to become the Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael, quintessential Rebbe of the Jewish People. Hashem calmed Moshe when He asserted, “I had the Torah, and I gave it to you.” What does this mean?

Rav Elyashiv explains that Chazal refer to two forms of kinyanim, acquisitions. First is a monetary possession which is acquired in accordance with hilchos kinyamim, laws of acquisition. This remains an external possession which has no impact whatsoever on its purchaser/possessor. Second is a kinyan pnimi, intrinsic acquisition, whereby the possession which is acquired becomes part and parcel of its possessor. He acquired something which transforms him. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (6:5) teaches that Torah is greater than both Malchus, Monarchy, and Kehunah, the Priesthood. Torah is acquired through forty-eight attributes/manners of acquisition: Kehunah, twenty-four; and Malchus, thirty. Does this mean that the difference is manifest only in numbers? Absolutely not. A marked difference exists between them. The kinyanei haTorah transform the individual into a ben Torah. The attributes of the melech and Kohen are advantages and entitlements which they receive due to their exalted position. The kinyanim of Torah are intrinsic, while the kinyanim of the melech and Kohen are extrinsic and have no bearing on the individual.

Yerushah, inheritance, applies only with regard to a possession which is not intrinsic, such as Kehunah and Malchus. The Kohen is a Jew with a special title and mission which is the by-product of his being a member of Shevet Levi. Malchus is no different, the king being a Jew who was appointed as the nation’s monarch. Such possessions/positions can be bequeathed to the next generation.

One who has succeeded in applying the forty-eight kinaynei Torah to acquire Torah becomes a new person. He has achieved a spiritual metamorphosis that distinguishes him from others who have not achieved this status. This position is personal and intrinsic; thus, it cannot be bequeathed to the ben Torah’s son. If the son is worthy, he will achieve his own unique status on his own accord. One can transfer what is his to the next generation. He cannot, however, transfer himself to the next generation.

The glaring question is obvious: What about sons who actually succeed their father in his exalted spiritual position? The answer is also quite obvious: A son ascends to his father’s position only if he himself is found to be worthy of filling his father’s shoes. It is not the father’s position. It is the son’s new position which he earned for himself.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!