Tzav by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And Moshe Washed Them With Water
In continuation of our study on the washing of hands and feet in the Temple, now we will discuss some more of the differentiation that should be made in regard to this washing. According to the Rambam, washing must be performed whether the priest had intent to serve, whether not. According to the Ramban only if the priest had the intent to serve must he wash his hands and feet. Perhaps we may connect this controversy to the relationship between the status of the priest and the status of his surroundings, i.e in regard to time and location. We mentioned before that that the priest must wash in four instances that pertain to his own personal state and that there is also another instance that requires him to wash regardless of his personal state, i.e the passing of the night. This last instance pertains to the status of the priest’s surroundings, i.e the status of time. We may perhaps say that according to the Rambam the personal state is integrally linked to the surrounding state, and therefore, just as time is a factor in requiring the priest to wash, regardless of his personal state, so to presence in the location of the Temple also requires the priest to wash, regardless of his personal intent to serve there. The Ramban, on the other hand, may be of the opinion that the personal status and the surrounding status are two separate matters. According to this, the requirement to wash with the coming of a new day is a unique law not related to the requirement of the priest to wash due to changes in his own personal status. Therefore, we cannot infer from the surrounding status, i.e of time and location, to require the priest to wash merely due to his presence in the location of the Temple.
Now that we have mentioned the requirement on washing upon the passing of night, here we will also discuss what may be the internal significance of this law. We mentioned before that washing represents the attribute of kindness, signified by water, that sanctifies the extremities of the priest, ultimately sanctifying the priest himself. The Kabbalists explain that the night represents the attribute of judgment, which stands in opposition to/versus the attribute of kindness. We may say that during the “judgment-related” night the attribute of kindness necessary for the sanctification of the priest is lost and therefore the priest must wash his hands and feet again in order to re-establish this attribute of kindness associated with his sanctification.
Of course, this attribute of kindness rooted in time is a primary component of Hebron and our Patriarchs, who stand as a source of kindness from the days of yore.
Real Miracles: It is said that during the first Yom Kippur after the liberation of Hebron, a very old man appeared in the shul in Hebron. No one recognized him and when they asked him who he was, he said that after Ne’elah he would take a walk with the President of the synagogue and tell him. When Yom Kippur ended, the President and the old man took a walk. The man said: “I am your great, great, great, great grandfather Avraham. I begged Hashem to allow me to pray just one time in this Holy City now that the Jews returned. I was allowed to come this Yom Kippur.” After these words, the old man disappeared