This letter was sent to R. Yeshaya HaLevi Horowitz

B”H, Adar 26, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

..Undoubtedly, the kuntres for Purim and the enclosures reached you. What you wrote on the bill1 and your letter of 13 Adar reached me. I was shocked when reading it — that you demanded from me matters that were not granted me2 and which I do not possess. Neither these matters, nor matters of this type, are relevant to me.

I have no complaint against you [for making this demand], because you do not know me personally. Nevertheless, you should have researched the matter because it is of vital importance. May G‑d enable all of us to merit to connect to the Tree of Life in truth.

N.B. You commented in your previous letters on the statements of the Zohar III, p. 145b, that every priest who does not have a wife is forbiddento perform service [in the Beis HaMikdash]. You raise a question, noting that apparently, this law applies only to the High Priest on Yom Kippur? [You suggest that] perhaps the Zohar also has that intent — even though the wording does not have that implication — as indicated by the fact that the prooftext cited refers to the High Priest.

In response, [the passage on page] 145b could, with difficulty, be resolved as referring to the High Priest, because it cites a prooftext referring to the High Priest. It is, however, impossible to interpret [similar statements] made by the Zohar III, p. 5b, which speaks about Nadav and Avihu3 and not about Yom Kippur. See also Zohar I, p. 239a.

It appears to me that the question can be resolved based on the fact that we have found the term “forbidden” used in several sources although the intent is that [refraining from doing so] is merely pious conduct. See S’dei Chemed, Klallei HaPoskim, General Principle 16, subsection 12, who cites examples from Tosafos, Taanis 11a, s.v. asor ([which speaks about the prohibition against intimacy during a year of famine); Nimukei Yosef, the conclusion of ch. 7 of Sanhedrin ([which speaks about the prohibition against] entering into partnership with a gentile); Maggid Mishneh, Hilchos Shechenim 2:16 ([which speaks about the prohibition against] standing in a friend’s field); and Sefer Mitzvos Gadol, positive commandment 87 ([which speaks about the prohibition against] eating before feeding one’s animals), and others.

In the Zohar here as well, the intent is that this is pious conduct. See also the gloss of Magen Avraham to Orach Chayim 125:63.

[Even though it is a suggestion for merely pious conduct,] Nadav and Avihu were punished by death [for failing to observe it].4 It can be explained that since [they transgressed during] the dedication of the Sanctuary, [it was more serious]. See the analogy given by the Zohar III, p. 5b. Also, “the Holy One, blessed be He, is extremely precise with the righteous...,”5 [punishing] them more severely than others. See also the Targum of Yonason ben Uziel to Parshas Acharei [which speaks of] “the sons of Aharon, the High Priests.”6

[Without binding myself by a vow,] I will [endeavor to respond] to your other points in my coming letters,

With wishes for a kosher Pesach holiday.