The Torah portion Emor begins with the precept that a Kohen , a priest, may not ritually defile himself by coming into contact with a dead body, except in the case of a close relative, such as a son, daughter, etc.1

The Midrash states2 that G‑d Himself performs all the mitzvos that He commanded the Jewish people to perform. Understandably, this also applies to guarding against ritual defilement: Since “G‑d is a Kohen ,”3 He guards against “defilement” as well.

Thus Tosefos4 explains that G‑d was “permitted” to “defile” Himself when He personally buried Moshe Rabbeinu , inasmuch as Jews are G‑d’s children, as it were, and a father who is a Kohen may defile himself while burying his child.

G‑d, however, is not merely a Kohen, but a Kohen Gadol , a High Priest.5 As such, He may not defile himself by coming into contact even with the body of a deceased child.6 How, then, was G‑d able to “defile” Himself by burying Moshe Rabbeinu ?

Each and every detail of creation has its spiritual counterpart. Thus, the differences within created beings derives from differences in their sources Above.

This is why created beings can serve as a guide to their spiritual source; a thorough understanding of a particular being gives us some understanding of its spiritual counterpart Above.

Nevertheless, the inherent limitations of all created beings do not apply to their source and root Above. Thus, while created beings may serve as an analogy to the realm of the spiritual, they can do so to only a limited extent. Thus we say that just as the sun’s rays do not effect any change in the sun itself, so too, creation does not effect any change the Creator.7 Understandably, this analogy does not apply in its entirety, for the sun — itself a created being — has inherent limitations, while G‑d is not bound in any way.8

The same is true with regard to the appellations Kohen and Kohen Gadol as applied to their counterparts Above: While a Kohen Gadol of flesh and blood is analogous to the Kohen Gadol Above, this is so strictly with regard to the additional measure of priesthood and sanctity that is to be found within a Kohen Gadol compared to a regular Kohen.

Those attributes of a physical Kohen Gadol that are found within him purely because he is encumbered by a physical body do not, of course, apply to the Kohen Gadol Above.

The inherent sanctity of a Kohen Gadol is such that he is separated and removed from any and all impurity.

The fact that he is subject to ritual defilement and impurity — thus the prohibition against defiling himself even for “his father and mother”9 — stems not from his being a High Priest, but from the fact that he is limited by his physicality. Thus, with regard to the level of Kohen Gadol as it exists Above, the whole concept of defilement simply does not exist.

This, however, is not so with regard to the spiritual counterpart of a regular Kohen , for the fact that a regular Kohen can defile himself for a close relative is part and parcel of his priesthood; he is permitted (and required)10 to defile himself for a close relative.

Thus, there is no problem with G‑d as High Priest defiling Himself for Moshe Rabbeinu , for on His level there simply is no impurity. The only question is, how G‑d as spiritual counterpart of the simple Kohen could do so. Here the answer is that Jews are His children, and a Kohen may defile himself in interring his child.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. VII, pp. 153-156.