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Wealth, Contemplation and the Cohen Gadol

Likutei Halachos on Parshas Emor

Translated by Dov Grant 

Possuk 21:10 "And the Cohen that is greater than his colleagues, upon whose head the oil of anointment has been poured…"

In Likutei Moharan (1:60) it states that there is a level of contemplation in Torah that can only be reached through great wealth. This wealth can only be attained through the rectifications [at the level] of Atik/Ancient One, corresponding to the concept of an elder and "length of days". One merits this concept of elder/length of days through fear of G-d, as in (Mishlei/Proverbs 10:27): "Fear of G-d prolongs [the] days [of one's life]". Through this fear we merit shemiras ha'bris (“guarding the covenant” i.e. guarding from sexual transgression) and thus merit wealth [by being protected from the poverty that results from sexual misdemeanors]. One can merit this level of fear by awakening others from their spiritual slumber through the relating of moralistic stories and parables. Some of these stories are an aspect of "former times", corresponding to hadras panim/beautiful countenance that corresponds to "abundant kindness".   

The Cohen embodies the concept of abundant kindness and hadras panim; he merits drawing he'aras panim/illuminating countenance over all Jewry, that "awakens from slumber". Through this, he draws wealth and is thus able to attain profound contemplation. This underlies the special blessing of the Cohen (Bemidbar 6:24): "Hashem bless you" – with money, i.e. wealth; "May Hashem cause His countenance to ya'er/illuminate you", corresponding to he'aras panim, hadras panim, corresponding to parables of former times. For these parables correspond to abundant kindness and hadras panim, through which "countenances of holiness" are returned and drawn over Jewry, an illumination of Hashem's "face" as expressed in "Hashem will cause His countenance to illuminate you". For the Cohen embodies the concept of the "teacher of holiness", occupied in arousing Jews from their spiritual slumber to Hashem.  

The Cohen draws fear of G-d to the Jewish people, since he is occupied with the offerings in the Temple, which is identified with fear of G-d. For it specifically states the words "former times" in respect to the Temple service (Malachi 3:4): "And then the offerings of Yehudah and Yerushalayim shall be pleasant to Hashem, as in the days of old and former times". And "former times" relates to hadras panim, corresponding to the tales of "former times" that arouse people from their slumber, causing the attainment of fear, corresponding to the Temple service.  

Therefore the Cohen Gadol, the "great" Cohen, obtains "great" wealth. For the Sages explain the above verse: "The Cohen that is greater than his colleagues" - Make him greater than his colleagues. And he merits this "wealth of holiness" by way of the fear that results from hadras panim of the tales of former years, which are an aspect of abundant kindness that corresponds to the Cohen. Through this wealth he attains deep contemplation.     

This is the meaning of "the oil of anointment…upon his head". This relates to the contemplation by the intellect, which corresponds to shemen mishchas kodesh (oil of holy anointment). This is why the Torah explains its caution to make the Cohen Gadol great and wealthy. It states "make the Cohen Gadol great, asher (because) the anointment oil is poured on his head". For his head is anointed with the holy oil that corresponds to contemplation and he must constantly draw and illuminate the anointing oil over his head, corresponding to (Koheles 9): "Oil shall not be diminished [from being poured] over your head". Therefore he merits great wealth – in order to merit contemplation.  

Now, all of the Cohanim are encapsulated in the Cohen Gadol – whose all-inclusive status derives from them – therefore nearly all the Cohanim merit great holy wealth. Their wealth derived from the fact that “the ketoret/incense offering makes wealthy the one that offers it” and no one was allowed to offer it twice – in order to allow all the Cohanim to become wealthy. All merited the wealth, drawn down through fear of G-d that is an aspect of their service in the Temple. Through this they merited the ability to contemplate, corresponding to the oil of holy anointment.  

Therefore, Cohanim are more sanctified in kedushas ha’bris (sanctification of the covenant i.e. sexual relations) than the rest of the Jewish people. They have more mitzvas in kedushas ha’bris, as in (21:6) “They shall be holy” and “They may not marry a prostitute or chalalah [or] a divorcee”. Similarly [when Moshe Rabbeinu blessed the tribe of Levi, containing all Cohanim], we find (Devarim 33:9) “…for they kept Your commandment and they will guard Your covenant”. For they merit fear of G-d, as mentioned above [through the Temple service], thus meriting shemiras ha’bris, (as cited above from Likutei Moharan), and consequently meriting wealth. 

Hilchos Pidyon Peter Chamor 2:1,3