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Yevamos, 86

YEVAMOS 86-90 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi who says that in 24 places the Torah refers to Kohanim as "Levi'im." (RASHI in Chulin 24b suggests that they were called "Levi'im" because they perform the service in the Beis ha'Mikdash, and the word "Levi" also means "those who help serve" ("Shamashim"), as in Bamidbar 18:2.) The Gemara cites one example of such a verse (Yechezkel 44:15).

Where are the other 23 places in which the Torah refers to Kohanim as "Levi'im?" Those Acharonim who discuss this question have great difficulty locating all 24 places.

The BEN YEHOYADA (Bechoros 4b) says that he searched and found only *eleven* places where the word "Levi'im" refers to Kohanim and not to Levi'im. RAV DAVID COHEN (Ohel David, end of Chelek I) shlit'a, on the other hand, counted the places where the word "Levi'im" refers to either Kohanim by themselves or Kohanim and Levi'im, and he found *76* places where the Torah refers to Kohanim as "Levi'im!"

Moreover, Rav David Cohen asks, how can there be a set number of places (if we count the places where the word "Levi'im" means both Kohanim and Levi'im)? Our Gemara cites a Machlokes whether the verses in the Torah that discuss giving Ma'aser to a Levi include Kohanim as well. Accordingly, the number of verses in which "Levi'im" refers to Kohanim is subject to this Machlokes and cannot be the same according to all Tana'im! Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi, though, seems to assume that everyone agrees that there are 24 places!

Rav David Cohen also points out that Rashi in Yehoshua (3:3) presents a different count in the name of the Midrash (Bereishis Rabah). According to the Midrash there are 48 places (there, however, it is not quoted in the name of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi)!

How are we to reconcile the count?


(a) The MEGADIM CHADASHIM (Berachos 51) says that the Gemara is not giving an exact number, but rather it is expressing that there are *many* places in which the Torah refers to Kohanim as "Levi'im." The number 24 is an exaggeration.

According to this approach, the Midrash in Bereishis Rabah, which asserts that there are 48 places, is imply choosing a different number for the exaggeration.

(b) RAV DAVID COHEN suggests that the Gemara is indeed counting the places where "Levi'im" refers to either Kohanim or to both. The reason it counts only 24 instead of many more is because it is not counting *Pesukim*, verses, but "*Mekomos*," places, meaning *topics*. There are 24 basic sections in the Torah which refer to Kohanim as "Levi'im," while in each section there might be many instances of the word "Levi'im" referring to Kohanim. Rav Cohen attempts at length to define what is considered a "place" or topic section, but does not reach a definitive conclusion.

(c) The Ben Yehoyada reached the number eleven by counting only the places where the words "ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im" are used to refer to the Kohanim. Actually, he missed three instances where that phrase refers only to Kohanim (besides the places that he intentionally omitted, where the verse means Kohanim *and* Levi'im). Moreover, he added one place that should not have been in the count, because it actually means Kohanim *and* Levi'im (as the RADAK explains there in Divrei ha'Yamim I 9:2). This brings the total count to thirteen.

Rashi in Devarim (18:6) explains, in the name of the Sifri, that in two verses there the word "Levi" refers to Kohanim and not to Levi'im. Also, in Yechezkel (48:11) and in Divrei ha'Yamim II (5:4), the RADAK proves that the word "Levi'im" refers only to the Kohanim. The METZUDAS TZIYON explains that the word "ha'Levi'im" in Yechezkel (44:10) is referring to Kohanim -- as is clear from the context -- and the same is true about the verse in Yirmeyah (33:22; as is evident from verses 18 and 21 there). This brings us to *nineteen* instances.

The RAMBAM (Mitzvos Aseh #34; see RAMBAN in Shoresh #3) writes that it is a Mitzvas Aseh for Kohanim to carry the Aron, even though the verse specifically says that the Levi'im (Bnei Kehas) shall carry it. The Rambam says that the command to the Levi'im to carry it applies only in the Midbar when there were only three Kohanim (who could not carry the Aron by themselves). For all ensuing generations, though, the Kohanim are enjoined to carry the Aron.

However, in five places in Nevi'im and Kesuvim the verse tells us that Levi'im carried the Aron, as the RAMBAN asks (Shoresh #3). The Acharonim answer that according to the Rambam, the word "Levi'im" in those five places refers to Kohanim and not to Levi'im! Accordingly, there are exactly 24 places in Tanach in which the word "Levi'im" actually means Kohanim! (According to the Ramban, we will have to accept the first answer, above, that the number is an exaggeration.)

Regarding the Midrash in Bereishis Rabah that mentions 48 places, it might be including the places where the word "Levi" refers to both Kohanim and Levi'im, and it is following the opinion of Rebbi Akiva in our Gemara, who says that Kohanim are not entitled to eat Ma'aser Rishon along with Levi'im. There remain approximately 24 places where the word "Levi" refers also to Kohanim as well as to Levi'im.

In sum, according to this approach, the 24 verses mentioned by the Gemara in which Kohanim are referred to as "Levi'im" are as follows: (1) Devarim 17:9 (2) 17:18 (3) 18:1 (4) 18:6 (5) 18:7 (6) 24:8 (7) 27:9 (8) Yehoshua 3:3 (9) 8:33 (10) Shmuel I 6:15 (11) Yirmiyahu 33:18 (12) 33:21 (13) 33:22 (14) Yechezkel 43:19 (15) 44:10 (16) 44:15 (17) 48:11 (18) Divrei ha'Yamim I 15:12 (19) 15:15 (20) 15:26 (21) 15:27 (22) Divrei ha'Yamim II 5:4 (23) 23:18 (24) 30:27
- The eleven places which the Ben Yehoyada counts are numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, 16, 23, 24. He also includes Divrei ha'Yamim I 9:2.
- The five places which discuss Levi'im carrying the Aron are numbers 10, 18, 19, 20, 21.
(M. Kornfeld. The preparation of this Insight was made possible primarily due to Rav David Cohen's exhaustive lists of the appearances of the word "Levi" which might be referring to Kohanim, and his insightful suggestions, at the end of Ohel David vol. 1.)

QUESTION: The Gemara proves that Kohanim are also called "Levi'im" by citing the verse, "v'ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im Bnei Tzadok" (Yechezkel 44:15). Although, as the Gemara says, there are twenty-three other places where Kohanim are referred to as "Levi'im," some of which appear in the Chumash, the Gemara cites this verse apparently because it is the clearest proof that the word "Levi'im" can refer to Kohanim. In other places, the proof is only from the context, while here the words speak for themselves, for we know that Tzadok was the Kohen Gadol, and not just a Levi.

The phrase "ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im" ("the Kohanim, the Levi'im") that is written in other places is not sufficient proof, because those words can be interpreted to mean, "the Kohanim *and* the Levi'im." Indeed, the RADAK in Divrei ha'Yamim II (5:4) points out that when the verse there (v. 5) uses the phrase "Kohanim ha'Levi'im" it must mean "the Kohanim *and* the Levi'im," because the parallel verse in Melachim (8:4) indeed reads, "ha'Kohanim v'ha'Levi'im" ("the Kohanim *and* the Levi'im").

However, RAV DAVID COHEN (Ohel David, end of Chelek I) asks that the Gemara still could have cited an earlier verse as proof that "Levi'im" can mean Kohanim. An earlier verse in Yechezkel (43:19) says, "ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im Asher Hem mi'Zera Tzadok." The proof from this verse is just as clear as the one that the Gemara cites! Why did the Gemara instead cite the verse from the later chapter in Yechezkel?

(In the end of Ohel David, Chelek IV, Rav David Cohen quotes a colleague who suggests that the later verse was quoted because it appears in the Haftarah of Parshas Emor and was thus well-known. However, the earlier verse, too, appears in the Haftarah for Parshas Tetzaveh!)

ANSWER: The RAMBAN (Milchamos to 80a) explains that when a Pasuk, Mishnah, Beraisa, or Amora lists several items and then, at the end of the list, makes a statement about them, the statement might refer only to the earlier items and not to the later ones in the list. For example, Rebbi Avahu there (80a) gives a list of "the signs of a Seris, and Aylonis, and a child born after eight months," and then makes a statement that "we cannot rely upon those signs until the person is twenty." The statement is referring back to Seris and Aylonis, and not to an eight-month baby.

Based on this premise, we can understand why the Gemara cites as proof the verse later in Yechezkel. The earlier verse, "ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im Asher Hem mi'Zera Tzadok," might be interpreted to be expressing a list (Kohanim, Levi'im), and a statement ("who are from the descendants of Tzadok") that is referring back only to the first item in the list, Kohanim. As such, it does not prove that "Levi'im" refers to Kohanim at all.

In contrast, the verse that the Gemara cites, "v'ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im Bnei Tzadok" -- "the Kohanim, the Levi'im *the sons of Tzadok*," is not making any independent statement about the previously-mentioned items. It does not refer back (with a pronoun) and say, "they are...," that we may divide the sentence into two halves, the second of which refers only to those mentioned at the beginning of the list. Rather, "Bnei Tzadok" ("the sons of Tzadok") is part and parcel of the phrase, "ha'Kohanim ha'Levi'im." Since It is one, undivided phrase, the *Levi'im* are clearly the ones referred to as Bnei Tzadok. (M. Kornfeld)

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