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Shabbat Yom Kippur 5778

Ein Ayah: Smaller Sin but Greater Danger

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 5:53)

Gemara: R. Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of R. Yonatan: Whoever says that the sons of Eli sinned is making a mistake, as the pasuk says: “There were two sons of Eli, Chofni and Pinchas, kohanim for Hashem” (Shmuel I, 1:3). He reasons like Rav, who said that Pinchas did not sin, and Chofni is connected to Pinchas: just as Pinchas did not sin, so too Chofni did not sin. So what does it mean, “…” … since they delayed the bringing of the korbanot after birth to make them permitted to their husbands, the pasuk considers it as if they slept with the women.


Ein Ayah: The episode around the fall in sanctity and Divine Spirit in the Mishkan of Shilo, which caused it to be destroyed, must relate to the qualitative root causes that brought about the destruction. After all, the destruction occurred because the basis for the existence of a Sanctuary in Israel was lost, not because of some chance events of moral impropriety, which are fleeting and are not reason to deprive the nation of its spiritual center. Rather we are looking for a spiritual trend that could ruin the entire service and the related sanctity, which was darkened as a result, and justified the dismantlement of the Mishkan of Shilo. 

It is proper to know that the foundation of the service of Hashem and of the sanctity of life go hand-in-hand. It is impossible for life to be elevated in a deep and broad manner without drawing from the source of life, which is Hashem Himself. That is why we are connected strongly to divine sanctity. As life passes along and brings with it darkness and troubles, who will return it to its previous glory if not Hashem, who is connected to life itself?

Human birth, which brings on the voice of new life, changes the makeup of the family into which the child was born. While it primarily brings positive things, it also brings some infirmity and upheaval. This includes the pain of labor and complex physical maladies, which are forgotten only after a certain amount of time passes and life returns to light and happiness. What erases the depressing impression of the pain and gloominess that was caused by the sin of our matriarch, Eve? It is only the closeness to Hashem, which finds expression in new mother’s olah and chatat (sin offering). The chatat remedies the sin of man that is connected to his heart’s wildness and raises his spirit to love of Hashem, who is the source of the love possessed by all creations. The service of Hashem of the new mother’s offering connects holy service of Hashem with the completeness of life. Therefore, pure human morality cannot complain about the sacrifices of service, and everything joins together in a pleasant harmony.

The sons of Eli demonstrated improper harshness in the Mishkan. They lowered moral behavior, compassion, and concern for the nation’s needs and emotions by using forceful practices, asserting control through their powerful positions. This behavior takes away the morality with which every pure heart would relate to service of Hashem and breaks the connection between life and sanctification.

        When a woman brings her korbanot as part of her purification to her husband, she sanctifies life. The kohen must not delay the process, as it harms familial harmony, which is a major part of Hashem’s desire. By failing, the sons of Eli broke the connection between the service of the Mishkan and a holy life. They thus took away its significance and enabled the kohen to be viewed as one who represents evil and unseemliness. If one thinks it is enough to simply perform the right external actions in the Mishkan, he is uprooting the Mishkan’s purpose more than if he had just sinned an unrelated sin, even if it was horrible. That is because the great sin cannot become a norm in Israel like the break between service and a life of holiness can. That is why delaying dealing with women’s needs is equated with sleeping with them.
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