The passuk states לא יטמא בעל בעמיו. Onkelos translates “Do not become contaminated with a leader in his nation.” The Chizkuni explains that a kohen hedyot cannot contaminate himself to the kohen gadol who is great, only to his relatives. The Nesina LaGer adds that one might have thought that a kohen can contaminate himself to someone who is great, therefore the passuk teaches that it is prohibited.
The Ramban explains Onkelos differently; a leader, referring to a kohen himself, shall not become contaminated. The Torah warns a kohen not to profane his holiness by becoming contaminated; he is meant to be great and honorable over the rest of the nation. Since a kohen is one who serves Hashem, he is obligated to act with honor and dignity and retain his holiness.
The passuk states ובת איש כהן כי תחל לזנות את אביה היא מחללת. Onkelos translates, “and the daughter of a kohen when she will profane herself by straying, from the holiness of her father she becomes profaned.” The Nefesh HaGer explains that the daughter of a kohen has the privileges of eating terumah and kodshim like her father. Now that strayed, her bad actions cause her to become profaned and lose the privileges of kedushas kehunah from her father. The Gemara brings that if a kohen’s daughter will do work on Shabbos, it will not stop her from eating teruma and kodshim. She will only become profaned and lose her privileges by marrying one who is assur. It is a גזירת הכתוב, decree of the Torah, that she specifically profanes herself by prohibited marriage, and not by other aveiros.
The Nesinah LaGer explains that Onkelos does not translate literally, “she profanes her father,” since her father does not actually become a חלל. A חלל is a child born from an illegal relationship, of a woman who is assur to marry a kohen, however the kohen himself will not become a חלל. So too the daughter of a kohen who strays will not make her father into a חלל, rather she is the one who becomes profaned and cannot eat terumah.
Rashi explains את אביה היא מחללת differently, she profanes and disgraces the honor of her father. People will say about him, “Cursed is the one who gave birth to this child, and cursed is the one who raised this child.” The Gemara brings if they acted towards the father with holiness, they should act with him mundanely, and if they acted towards him with honor, they should act with disgrace. They say, “Cursed is the one who gave birth to this child, cursed is the one who raised this child, and cursed is the one which this child was born from.” The Maharsha explains these three curses are to three different people. Cursed is the mother who gave birth to this child, cursed is the wet-nurse who nurtured her, and cursed is the father from whom she was born.
From the bad we can derive the good. If a child performs mitzvos and ma’asim tovim people will certainly say, “Blessed is the mother who gave birth to him, blessed is his wet-nurse who nurtured him, and blessed is his father from whom he was born.”
May we all bring nachas to our parents, and may the kohanim keep to their esteemed level of kedusha!