Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wearing the Tzitz - Kiddushin 66

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary here

The braisa states: King Yannai once went to Kuchlis, which is located in the desert, and captured sixty of its villages. When he came back, he was very happy, and called together all of the Torah scholars. He said: Our fathers ate salty vegetables when they were building the Beis Hamikdash, we should also eat these now to remember our fathers. He then had salty vegetables placed on tables of gold, and the people (at the gathering) ate. There was a scorning, bad hearted, godless person named Elozar ben Po’irah present. He said to Yannai: King Yannai, the heart of the Perushim (Torah faithful) is set against you! King Yannai replied: What should I do about this (to see if you are correct)? Elozar replied: Put the tzitz (an adornment only allowed to be worn by the “Kohen Gadol” -- “High Priest”) between you eyes. He did this. There was an elder named Yehudah ben Gedidyah present. He said to Yannai: King Yannai, it is enough that you have the crown of the throne! Leave the crown of Kehunah for the sons of Aharon! This is because they said regarding him that his mother had been captured by idolaters in Modi’in, but they searched to see if it was true and it (proof) was not found. [According to Rashi, his father was indeed a Kohen, but according to this rumor he should not have married his wife, as she was unfit to marry a Kohen. If the rumor was true (see below for the exact case), this would mean Yannai was a chalal, and was not fit to serve as a Kohen.]

Yannai angrily removed the scholars from the meal. Elozar ben Po’irah again spoke to King Yannai. He said: King Yannai, it is understandable that a regular Jew should swallow insults. However, you are a king and the Kohen Gadol, is it fitting that you should do the same? King Yannai asked: What should I do? Elozar replied: If you listen to my advice, you will kill them all. King Yannai asked: What will become of the Torah? Elozar replied: The Torah will be wrapped and placed in a corner, and whoever wants will go and study it.

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak says: Immediately, a wind of heretical behavior entered Yannai’s mind. This is evident from the fact that he did not reply, “This maybe true about the written Torah, but what about the Oral Torah (which was not yet written down at all)?” Immediately, the spark of evil was started by Elozar ben Po’irah, and Yannai killed all the scholars. The world was lacking Torah knowledge until Shimon ben Shetach (Yannai’s wife’s brother; she hid him) came and returned the Torah back to its original state.

Rashi asks: How can he put the tzitz on at this time when he is not engaged in performing the Temple service?

He answers: The Kohanim were permitted to derive benefit from the Holy vestments, for the Torah was not given to the ministering angels, and they were not expected to remove these garments at the moment that they concluded the service.

Tosfos asks: On the contrary! They were obligated to remove them as soon as they had a chance!

Furthermore, asks the Rashba, the permission was only inside of the Beis HaMikdash, not outside!?

The Beis Halevi explains Rashi: Since they were not expected to remove these garments at the moment that they concluded the service, this proves that there was no prohibition whatsoever against deriving benefit from the Holy vestments, and they were permitted l’chatchilah to wear these garments even when they were not performing the Temple service, and even when they were not inside the Beis HaMikdash.

Rabbeinu Tam answers based on a Scriptural verse that the tzitz was different than the other garments, and they were allowed to wear it even when they were not performing the Temple service.

The Ritva writes that Yannai was not correct by wearing the tzitz at this time.