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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Korach

Point of Order

July 4, 2024

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Rav Moshe Yitzchok Weg


And he drew you near, and all your brethren, the offspring of Levi, with you; yet you seek kehunah as well.

Bemidbar 16:10

The Gemara (Gittin 59b) says that a kohein is called up to the Torah first, followed by a levi and then a Yisrael. If there is no kohein, “nispardah hachavilah (the rope has unraveled).”

The Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 135:11) presents three explanations of this phrase:

  1. Based on Rashi’s first explanation: In the absence of a kohein, a levi cannot receive an aliyah. The Bach explains that we are afraid people will think the levi is a kohein.
  2. Based on Rashi’s second explanation, accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 135:6): Either a levi or a Yisrael may be called, as the levi has no precedence in the absence of a kohein. The Mishnah Brurah explains that according to this view a levi may receive the first aliyah because he is no worse than a Yisrael.
  3. From the Rosh: A levi takes precedence over a Yisrael, but if a more prominent Yisrael is present, the aliyah goes to him. (This is not the case if a kohein is present.)

The Mishnah (Horayos 13b) rules (cited in Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 251:9) that a kohein is prioritized over a levi to receive tzedakah, and a levi over a Yisrael. This can be understood according to the first and third approaches, because nispardah hachavilah is limited to krias haTorah. According to the second approach, the Eimek Bracha explains that tzedakah is different, because there is a special mitzvah (Dvarim 12:19) to sustain a levi.


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