Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The passuk states ולא תטמאו בהם ונטמתם בם and you shall not become contaminated with them and you will become contaminated in them. Asks the Nefesh Hager: first the passuk states one should not contaminate oneself, and then the passuk continues, and one will be contaminated; if one does not contaminate himself how can he become contaminated? The Nefesh HaGer answers that Onkelos adds the word פון to the translation to infer a condition; you shall not contaminate yourself with sheratzim by eating them, since if you eat them you will become contaminated. The word ונטמתם is from the lashon טמא, missing the א’. The Rabbeinu Bachya explains that the missing א’ hints to Hashem’s Shechinah which leaves a place of contamination.

The Gemara brings: the passuk states, ולא תטמאו בהם ונטמתם בם, if a person contaminates himself a little, he will be given the opportunity to contaminate himself even more. If one contaminates himself below, he will be contaminated above, and if he contaminates himself in this world he will be contaminated in the next world. The following passuk states, והתקדשתם והייתם קדושים and you shall sanctify yourself and you will be holy. The Gemara explains, if a person sanctifies himself a bit, Hashem will help him to become sanctified a lot. If one sanctifies himself below, he will be sanctified a lot above, and if he sanctifies himself in this world, he will be sanctified in the next world. The Maharsha explains that a person who sins is provided the opportunity to do bad but is not assisted in doing bad, however Hashem will actually assist a person to do good.

The braisos contrast the contamination caused by eating sheratzim and kedusha. What does this kedusha refer to? The Iyun Yaakov explains this refers to a person refraining from eating things which are permitted. If one separates he will then bring upon himself additional kedushah. The tumah refers to eating something which he is prohibited. The Rabbeinu Bachya explains differently; the kedusha refers to learning Torah and fulfilling mitvos which were given to Yisrael over all the nations. By learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvos it will strengthen a person’s intellect and weaken the strength of one’s urges and desires.

The Gemara brings the Beis Medrish of Rebi Yishmael taught: the passuk states ונטמתם, do not read it as ונטמתם but rather ונטמטם meaning stuff and close up. The Maharsha explains that the ט’ can be exchanged with a ת’. The Radak explains that word ונטמתם is from the root טמה stuff up. One should not eat sheratzim which will stuff him up from any wisdom or understanding of Torah. The Rabbeinu Bachyah says that prohibited foods affects our heart and distances one from kedushah.

May we make ourselves holy by refraining from eating prohibited foods, and by learning Torah and fulfilling miztvos, bringing the Shechinah close to us!

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