In the Weeds

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Sometimes reading the Parsha feels like doing homework, especially when it seems to get bogged down in details. Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch thought that the seemingly insignificant details are actually profound ideas if we just knew how to look at them. This module presents one amazing idea from Rav Hirsch which emerges from the granular evidence of the Parsha.

The Torah describes how neither a priest, nor the High Priest are allowed to touch a dead body because if ritual impurity. However, there are 7 exceptions for a priest which consist of his 7 closest relatives. The High Priest however, cannot even touch these.

Rav Hirsch explains that we have important ties and responsibilities to our family and spouses. The Torah values these responsibilities so much that the holy priests can become ritually impure just to ensure their loved ones receive proper burial. However, the High Priest is meant to be the spiritual leader of the Jewish people. Leaders cannot afford to be solely dedicated to their immediate relatives. They are, in a sense, owned by the people to whom their greatest level of responsibility is towards. It is this awesome responsibility that the Torah is expressing when it forbids the High Priest from helping bury even his closest relatives. He can follow from a distance, but can never totally lose himself into his personal matters because he has far greater issues to be involved with.