In memory of my brother: Torah scholars increase peace in the world

This article arrived before Shabbat, but was not posted. Professor Aranoff has just informed us of his brother's passing and we have updated it and dedicate it to the memory of Rabbi Yitzchok Aranoff who passed away in Brooklyn today.

Professor Gerald Aranoff

Judaism Memorial candle
Memorial candle

This past Shabbat was Shabbat Hagadol, the Shabbat before Passover.  We read parshat Tzav and the haftorah is Malachi 3:4-24.

Malachi writes so passionately and movingly to us today in times of the Coronavirus:. We pray for healings in its wings ומרפאה בכנפיה

“But for you who revere My name a sun of victory shall rise healing in its wings ומרפאה בכנפיה; You shall go forth and stamp like stall-fed calves, and you shall trample the wicked to a pulp, for they shall be dust beneath your feet on the day that I am preparing—said the Lord of Hosts.

"Be mindful of Torah of My servant Moses תורת משה עבדי, whom I charged at Horeb with laws and rules for all Israel. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction.” (Malachi 3: 20-24) 

Malachi, Zechariah, and Haggai were prophets in the Sanhedrin that set down the Tanach and the Siddur and the laws of purification and rituals for the Holy Temple.  

There’s an opinion that Malachi was Mordecai

 Megilah 15a:: “R. Nahman [according to a better reading, Rab.] said: Malachi is the same as Mordecai. Why was he called Malachi? Because he was next to the king משנה למלך.

Malachi charges the priests to be faithful with true fear of God:

“Know, then, that I have sent this charge to you that My covenant with Levi may endure—said the Lord of Hosts. I had with him a covenant of life and well-being, which I gave to him, and of reverence, which he showed Me. For he stood in awe of My name. The law of truth תןרת אמת in his mouth, And nothing perverse was on his lips; He walked with Me in peace בשלום  and uprightness ובמישור And did turn many away from iniquity. For the lips of a priest guard knowledge, And they should seek the law at his mouth; For he is a messenger of the Lord of Hosts כי מלאך ה' צבקות הוא.” (Malachi 2:4-7).

A Torah thought on parsha Tzav

“So, too, the priest who offers a man’s burnt offering עלת איש shall keep the skin of the burnt offering that he offered.” (Leviticus 7:8).

Yes, the Torah gives a perk to the Cohen who offers a man’s burnt offering. The Cohen keeps the skins of the offerings.  The Cohen can refuse any Jew as I explain in this article. Here in parshat Tzav a man’s burnt offering עלת איש refers to a woman's too.

What did the Cohanim do with all the skins of the animal offerings? Surely, the skins  that go to the Cohen, were mainly for such holy matters as Torahs, writings, deeds, kethubots, protocols, historical records, and wills.

The Cohanim bring peace throughout the world

We say in the siddur, from Berachoth 64a:

“R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: The disciples of the wise increase peace in the world, as it says “And all your children shall be disciples למודי of the Lord, And great shall be the peace ורב שלום of your children” (Isaiah 54:13) Read not banayik [thy children] but bonayik [thy builders] [i.e., learned men].  “There is abundant peace שלום רב for those who love your teaching לאהבי תורתך, and they encounter no adversity ואין למו מכשול.” (Psalms 119:165). “May there be peace in יהי שלום your ramparts בחילך, peace שלוה in your citadels בארמנותיך. For the sake of my kin and friends למען אחי ורעי, I pray אדברה נא for your well-being שלום בך; for the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I seek אבקשה your good טוב לך.” (Ibid. 122:7-9). “May the Lord grant יתן strength עז to His people לעמו; may the Lord bestow יברך on His people את עמו wellbeing בשלום.” (Ibid. 29:11).”

Shabbat 114a: “What are banna'im? Said R. Johanan: These are scholars, who are engaged all their days in the upbuilding of the world [Banna'im lit. means builders].” 

Torah scholars bring peace between God and Jews.  Torah scholars are translated as builders of Torah and not sons of Torah because Torah is not by inheritance but by study.

Our sages says that Torah scholars need a special blessing for peace because they tend to argue so much with each other.

The Cohen is a messenger מלאך of the Lord of Hosts

The Cohen makes peace between God and Jews and among Jews and throughout the world. The Torah describes a high court at the central sanctuary for cases too hard for local courts.

“If a case is too baffling for you to decide, be it a controversy over homicide, civil law, or assault—matters of dispute in your courts—you shall promptly repair to the place that the Lord your God will have chosen, and appear before the levitical priests, or the magistrate in charge at the time, and present your problem. When they have announced to you the verdict in the case, you shall carry out the verdict that is announced to you from that place that the Lord chose, observing scrupulously all their instructions to you.

"You shall act in accordance with the instructions given you and the ruling handed down to you; you must not deviate from the verdict that they announce to you either to the right or to the left. Should a man act presumptuously and disregard the priest charged with serving there the Lord your God, or the magistrate, that man shall die. Thus you will sweep out evil from Israel: all the people will hear and be afraid and will not act presumptuously again.”  (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).

May we know, speedily in our time, the blessings promised us by Malachi: “Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord.”

לע"נ My brother Rabbi Yitzchok Aranoff, son of Avraham Abba, beloved Torah scholar, niftar at 5:01 am Brooklyn today, Nisan 11, 5780.