Parshas Acharei Mos

בזאת יבא אהרון   טז:ג

The Medrash (Rabbah 21:7) says that Aharon himself was allowed to go into the Kodesh Ha’Kodashim whenever he wanted, so long as he would come in b’zos, with the prescribed avodah.  Only the Kohanim Gedolim who succeeded Aharon were limited to the once-a-year entry on Yom Kippur.

The Meshech Chochmah brings from the Gra a chiddush that it is because of ki b’anan eiraeh al ha’kapores.  That is why there is only a heter and chiyuv for the Kohein Gadol to go in on Yom Kippur, because that is when there is ananan (of ketores).  However, in the Midbar, since the anan was always by the Mishkan, Aharon had reshus to go in every day if he’ll do the avodah of b’zos (in addition to the chiyuv gamur on Yom Kippur).

In the pesukim, we only find mention of three tevilos, and only one time that the Kohein Gadol wears the bigdei lavan.  However, in Torah sheh’b’al peh there is a mesorah that on Yom Kippur the Kohein Gadol has to do a total of five tevilos (and ten kiddushei yadayim v’raglayim), which mandates having two times that he goes lifnai v’lifnim in the bigdei lavan.  It is brought b’sheim the Gra that it is not a stirah.  The Torah sheh’bichsav is referring to Aharon’s daily process of b’zos whereas the Torah sheh’b’al peh is referring to the din l’doros.

(From the notes of Reb Naftali Eichen)


כל אדם לא יהיה באהל מועד בבאו לכפר בקדש     טז:יז

The Medrash (Vayikra Rabbah 21:12) says that the word v’chol is coming to indicate Malachim.  They too are included in this pasuk and are not allowed into the Heichal when the Kohen Gadol goes in to the Kodesh Ha’Kodashim on Yom Kippur to be maktir the ketores.  This avodah of the Kohen Gadol represents the pinnacle in the special relationship between Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu and Klal Yisrael.  Even the Malachim are not allowed to infringe on this intimate relationship.

This yesod can also explain the minhag of saying the last lines of Shalom Aleichem.  We say tzeischem l’shalom,seemingly ushering out the Malachim before we even start Kiddush.  Why are we escorting them out right after they have arrived?  (There are those who delay saying tzeischem l’shalom until the end of the seudah, or omit it altogether).  Shabbos is a bris between Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu and Klal Yisrael.  Beini u’vein Bnei Yisrael os hee l’olam.  It is a matanah tovah that was given to Klal Yisrael only, and celebrates their unique, special relationship withHa’Kadosh Baruch Hu.  Once again, therefore, even the Malachim are uninvited.  They cannot infringe on that relationship.  We invite them in to see what we are doing, and to bestow their bracha, but when we are ready to make Kiddush, we usher them out as we prepare to declare our singular relationship with Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.

(From Reb Ephraim Weiss)


מכל חטאתיכם לפני ה’ תטהרו     טז:ל

דרש רבי אלעזר בן עזריה…עבירות שבין אדם לחבירו אין יוה”כ מכפר עד שירצה את חבירו     יומא דף פה

I asked Rebbi why every night, in the “Ribbono Shel Olam” before birchas ha’mapil, we say that we forgive everyone who offended us, bein b’gilgul zeh bein b’gilgul acher?  I said, “I understand that every night you need to forgive everyone all over again, because you just had a new day; but regarding what happened in your past lives, the first time you ever said krias shema al ha’mitah you forgave them, it should be done with!”  Rebbi responded, “That’s not a kashya; maybe you did not have proper kavanah yet.”

(From Reb Mickey Dov Lebovic)


וחי בהם    יח:ה ולא שימות בהם     יומא דף פה

The Gemara says that this limud teaches us that even safeik pikuach nefesh is docheh Shabbos.  Tosafos in Bava Metzia (104) says, according to the mahn d’amar that Eliyahu Ha’Navi was a kohein, how was he able to be mechayeh the son of the almanah; a kohein cannot go in to an ohel ha’meis?!  Tosafos answers that he knew for sure that he would succeed, therefore pikuach nefesh was docheh the issur of tumas meis for a kohein.

The shailoh, though, is, why did Tosafos need to come on to a vadai?  Even safeik pikuach nefesh is docheh?!  The Netziv answers that the va’chai bahem is only talking about someone who is currently alive.  In Eliyahu Ha’Navi’s case, though, the child was definitely dead, so va’chai bahem could not be the mekor for a heter in that situation.  Therefore, Eliyahu Ha’Navi had to come on to the other derasha that the Gemara brings there of v’shamru Bnei Yisrael es ha’Shabbos – chaleil alav Shabbos achas k’dei sheh’yishmor Shabbasos harbei.  That is the heter that was relevant to Eliyahu Ha’Navi’s situation.

On the one hand, the derasha of chaleil k’dei sheh’yishmor expands the parameters under which one is allowed to be mechaleil Shabbos – even for a meis, but it is more restricted in that it cannot be a safeik.

There is another nafkah minahka’yotzei ba’davar what the Rema brings from the Rashba that it is mutar to be mechaleil Shabbos to save a Jew who is being captured by non-Jews in order to prevent him from becoming a meshumad under them.  This is not a situation of va’chai bahem because his life is not in danger; it is the heter of chaleil k’dei sheh’yishmor “…which is not to mean that this is halacha l’maaseh, it’s mutar to be mecha-…ok” (ed. note: it seems pretty clear that Rebbi meant to say that l’fi the Netziv it comes out that the heter of being mechaleil Shabbos in order to save someone from becoming a meshumad is only if you know for sure that you will succeed in saving him, but if it is a safeik there is no heter.  Apparently, though, Rebbi was extremely reluctant to say this b’peh malei).

Regarding someone who already is a mumar l’chaleil es ha’Shabbos, it could be that it is mutar to save him…it’s a shailoh.

The Ohr Ha’Chaim (in parshas Ki Sisah) says that l’fi the derasha of chaleil k’dei sheh’yishmor the heter to be mechaleil Shabbos for pikuach nefesh is only if the person will at least live until next Shabbos.  Halacha l’maaseh is for sure not like that.  Certainly, if you have the derasha of va’chai bahem it is mi’meilah not relevant.

The Bahag says that you have to be mechaleil Shabbos if a fetus is in danger even if there is no danger to the mother.  The Ramban, though, holds that sakanas ubar in of itself might not be enough to justify being docheh Shabbos since the ubar is not a nefesh bifnei atzmo (this is taluy on a sugyah in Sanhedrin whether an ubar has a sheim nefesh or not), but the Ramban’s maskana is that it if there is a danger to the life of the fetus it for sure also is a sakanah for the mother as well, so anyway you need to be docheh Shabbos.

The Netziv points out over here as well that the lashon of the Bahag is that there vadai is a sakanah to the ubar.  Whyvadai; why not safeik as well?  Because the Bahag agrees that a fetus is not called a nefesh and therefore the heter ofva’chai bahem cannot apply; but he holds that the heter of chaleil k’dei sheh’yishmor does apply.  That is why it’s only regarding vadai and not safeik.

The Ran, though, is mevuar not like the diyuk of the Netziv.  He says b’sheim the Bahag that if there is a danger to the fetus on Yom Kippur if the mother won’t eat, we give her food to eat even though we don’t know if the fetus is a neifelor a bar kayamah.  So you see mefurash in the Ran that the way he brings shitas ha’Bahag is that even by safeik you can be docheh Shabbos to save a fetus.

The Ran says that even when the fetus is less than forty days from conception (which the Gemara calls mayah b’almah) you can be mechaleil Shabbos to save him.  Obviously, such a fetus is not called a chai.  The heter can only be, as is mevuar from the Ran, the din of chaleil k’dei sheh’yishmor.  L’halacha, that is definitely how we hold – even less than forty days and even if it is a safeik.

It could be that the Ran would say by a case of being mechayeh a meis (like by Eliyahu Ha’Navi) that ein hachi nahmi, even if it is only a safeik if it will work it is docheh.


The Gemara says that if one has a choleh b’soch beiso he should go to a Chacham to ask him to daven on behalf of the choleh.  A shailoh came up with one of the early Rebbe’s of Belz, and also with one of the Gedolim of Lita a number of generations ago, if one can send a telegram on Shabbos to the Gadol to ask him to daven on behalf of a choleh.  The crux of the question is that teffilah is not a refuah b’derech ha’tevah, it is not a medical procedure. 

The Rambam in pirush ha’mishnayos (Yoma 8:6) writes that only proven medical procedures that heal b’derech ha’tevah can one be docheh Shabbos to do for a choleh, but not things that are a refuah segulis since their potency is weak and they are not mi’tzad ha’daas – “science doesn’t hold of it; there is no scientific experience with it”.

The Tchebiner Rav said that Eliyahu going to be mechayei-meis is not considered a refuah b’derech ha’tevah.  If there is anything b’derech ha’tevah that can be done that will result in the person coming back to life, that means that he was never dead.  In the case of Eliyahu, though, the child was actually dead.  Therefore, what Eliyahu was doing was definitely a refuah segulis.  As such, the Tchebiner Rav held that you see from this Tosafos that you can be mechaleil Shabbos for a refuah segulis.  It could be that that is the reason why Tosafos says that it had to be a vadai.  The truth is, that even from the Rambam, the mashmaus is that the main problem with refuah segulis is that it is unproven and unlikely, but Eliyahu knew that the refuah segulis that he was going to do would work.

When the Belzer Rebbe got the telegram, he was very upset that they had sent it, but once he become aware of the choleh’s plight, he davened for him.  The story goes that the Rebbe’s teffilos were successful and the choleh got better, but I cannot take achrayus for that part.

(From audio recording)


Many point out that  from va’chai bahem we see that one should do mitzvos with a chiyus.  The Sfas Emes, though, says a much deeper and fundamental idea: that the whole chiyus of a Yid comes from kiyum ha’mitzvos, and if a person doesn’t find his chiyus in kiyum ha’mitzvos then he is not really alive; he is missing a very important source of chiyus.

(From audio recording)

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