Sunday, May 20, 2012

Precedence of a talmid chacham and a kohen gadol

Towards the start of parashat Emor, we read:

8. You shall sanctify him, for he offers up the food offering of your God; he shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord Who sanctifies you, am holy.ח. וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ כִּי אֶת לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא מַקְרִיב קָדֹשׁ יִהְיֶה לָּךְ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ אֲנִי ה מְקַדִּשְׁכֶם:
The Tur records, lehalacha, the following gemara in perek Bnei HaIr, the fourth perek of Megillah {28a, here, in one location}:

"We learn in perek Bnei HaIr: Rabba bar Bar Chana cited Rabbi Yochanan: any talmid chacham who blesses before him, even an ignorant kohen gadol, that talmid chacham is liable to death at the hands of Heaven, for it is written {Mishlei 8}:

לו  וְחֹטְאִי, חֹמֵס נַפְשׁוֹ;    כָּל-מְשַׂנְאַי, אָהֲבוּ מָוֶת.36 But he that misseth me wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.'

Read not מְשַׂנְאַי but rather masni'ay {'those who cause me to be hated}. But a kohen who is a Torah scholar, one needs to give him precedence, for it is written {in Emor, above} וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ, for every matter of holiness, such as to open first {presumably, for an aliyah}, and to bless first. And if he wishes to give permission to an Israelite to bless, he may."

Rashi explains that by the Torah scholar allowing the ignorant kohen gadol to go first,
משניאי - שגורמין לבני אדם לשנאותו שהרואה תלמיד חכם שפל לפני עם הארץ אומר אין נחת רוח בתורה:
he causes people to hate Him, for one who sees a Torah scholar degraded before an am haaretz will say that there is no nachas ruach in the Torah.

See analysis of this topic in Torat HaTur.

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