Parshas Emor begins warning a Kohein from becoming Tam'ei by attending a burial, except for that of his own family members. It is well known that there is a general exclusion from this rule; a meis mitzvah - a corpse that has no one to take care of it. It is generally understood that the meis mitzvah 'variance' is due to the great importance of kavod habri'os - the care and concern for the respect of G-D's creations. I would like to share another aspect of the allowance for the Kohein to become tam'ei for a meis mitzvah.
One of the expressions that the Torah uses for the prohibition of tum'ah is לא יטמא בעל בעמיו להחלו - The commentators offer different translations for this difficult pasuk. The following is a qoute from Artscroll, based on Rashi. "A husband among his people shall not contaminate himself to one who desecrates him."
The Ramban explains the pasuk not in reference to a husband whose innappropriate wife desecrates him, (as Rashi learns,) but rather - "A master, among his people should not desecrate himself by attending a (typical) burial."
R' Yeruchom Levovitz za"tzal gleans from here a very important lesson. Although attending a funeral is an important deed - so much so, that in many instances it requires one to interrupt his Torah study for its procession, still, there is something that one may not give up or even temporarily disturb, for this. A 'master', who in some way is "a head above the rest", whether through a trait that was worked upon until acquired, or because of a G-D-given special character trait that sets him apart from the masses, may not allow himself to lose that uniqueness by socializing too much with the public. Just as a young prince would not be allowed to play in the streets with the commoners, as he may lose his sense of royalty, so too a kohein is witheld from some social obligations that even just temporarily oppose his status as a servant in the royal palace - the Beis Hamikdash.
Similarly, Maran Rav Shmuel Berenbaum za"tzal used to say, we find that doing a prohibited melachah on Shabbos is punishable with death, not only because of the severe prohibited act, but because the act is mechalel shabbos - it renders Shabbos as a simple, regular, mundane day of the week.
Lowering one's lofty spiritual status or giving up a positive trait may be alot more costly than many mitzvos demand of us to spend! Not only are we not required to give that up, but it may actually be prohibited!
This allows us to say that burying a meis mitzvah, which obviously does not involve the rest of common society, being that no one else is there to care for the meis, does not affect the kohein's status among men, rather it is a private act of great importance and not a self desecration at all.
We must be careful both with ourselves and our children, to ensure that with who and how we interact socially does cause a loss to the wonderful traits we've worked so hard on to instill!
Have a wonderful, special Shabbos!
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 5/06/2011 03:05:00 AM