Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No Martians in the Mikdash

I happened to see an interesting explanation from Rav Yehonasan Eibshitz that was so similar to last week's post that I could not help but post it for this week. The Haftarah for this week's parsha, Parshas Emor, comes from Yechezkel (44). In it the Navi describes what the service in the Beis HaMikdash will be like in the future. There are many discrepencies between this description and the service as described in Chumash and the Gemara tells us that for this Sefer Yechezkel was almost left out of Tanach. (Shabbos 13b) Finally Chananya ben Chizkiyah reconciled the discrepencies and it was allowed.

Interestingly, many commentaries still discuss the literal translations of the words and do not address the above mentioned issue. Rav Eibshitz seems to take this path and, therefore, provides insight into one of these perplexing verses. Yechezkel tells us that the Kohanim will wear linen garments when serving in the inner sanctum and will not have any wool on them. (Yechezkel 44:17) This is in stark contrast with the description of their clothing as described in the Chumash. There we are taught that their clothing contained both linen and wool, a combination prohibited for others to wear and referred to as Shaatnez.

Rav Eibshitz explains that linen is often times referred to as שש which is also the word for "six". In addition it is referred to as בד, a word whose numerical value is six. (see chapter 13 of my Tiferes Aryeh for more on this numerical value and how it seems to be a "hava ameinah" of the Gemara) Mystically it is a garment that brings together (in a cleansing way) the natural forces of six of the seven planets (the ancients recognized all items that moved independent of the regular stars to be planets. As such they talked of seven planets; the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The others are not visible to the naked eye and are, therefore, not discussed). The only planet it does not contain is that of Mars.

Mars connotes judgement and harshness (see last week's post) and has no place in the future worship of Hashem. (Rav Eibshitz points out that shrouds are of linen since Hashem will save the dead from judgement). In the past the Kohanim wore wool in their clothing because we had to contend with the evil forces and even "bribe" them to do the proper service of Hashem (see last week's post). In the future, however, things will be more perfect and we will no longer have wool in the clothing of the Kohanim.

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