THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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YEVAMOS 86-90 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
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1) THE 24 PLACES IN THE TORAH IN WHICH KOHANIM ARE CALLED "LEVI'IM"
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).
2) "THE KOHANIM-LEVI'IM, SONS OF TZADOK"
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
According to this approach, the Midrash in Bereishis Rabah, which asserts
that there are 48 places, is imply choosing a different number for the
(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
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
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.