There is an apparent redundancy in this posuk: ”ויאמר ה' אל משה אמר אל הכּהנים בּני אהרן ואמרת אלהם לנפש לא יטּמּא ”בעמיו. Say to the Kohanim, the sons of Aaron, and you shall say to them: for a [dead] person he shall not become tomei...”. It repeats the command ואמרת, “and you shall say”!
The Gemara in Yevomos infers from this repetition that there is a special obligation for Kohanim to ensure that even their young children should not become tomei. The first “say to the Kohanim” refers to Kohanim over bar mitzvah and the second “say to them” refers to the Kohanim who are ketanim.
The Bais Av explains that this Gemara teaches us that the entire verse is actually referring to the adult Kohanim. The implication of the repetition to the adults is for the benefit of the ketanim. Hashem is telling us to tell the adult Kohanim the gravity of the prohibition of tumoh and to repeat it to them (themselves – the adults!) In other words, this repetition instills yiras shomayim in the Kohanim so that they will become extra careful about this matter – which will then make an impression even on the ketanim!
We all want to teach our children yiras shomayim. We all know how to teach children to do mitzvos by buying them a pair of tzitzis, learning Torah with them, and teaching them to make brochos and to daven. Similarly, we want our children to understand the gravity of ח“ו doing an aveiroh and appreciate what it is to do a mitzvah. Our children watch us carefully and learn from our actions.
I once asked the great mashgiach Rav Shlomo Wolbe זצ"ל how to instill yiras shomayim in our children. He responded, “Make brochos out loud.” This echoes the sentiment of the Bais Av. A child who observes such care in his parents’ observance of mitzvos is the one who will be truly impressed. May we be zocheh to see all of our children grow in yiras shomayim.
Rabbi Gidon Goldberg
Head of School