Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Man or Angel?

Someone once asked the Ben Ish Chai, “According to tradition, Eliyahu Hanavi occasionally comes down to this world and appears as a person to learn with the chachamim. Does he have the halachah of a human being when he is here or not? Can he be the tenth man in a minyan, for example?”
The Ben Ish Chai replied, “Although he sometimes appears to select few in human form, he definitely has the halachah of an angel. We can learn this from the halachah of tum’as hatehom, a completely unknown and hidden source of tumah that only came to light later on. Even if a nazir came in contact with such a source of tumah, it doesn’t disqualify him if he only found out about it after he completed his nezirus and shaved. The Rambam rules like the beraisa brought in Nazir 63 that if anyone in the entire world knows about this impurity, it is not a tum’as hatehom and the nazir is defiled from when he came into contact with it even if he only found out later.
The Ben Ish Chai continued, “Eliyahu Hanavi surely knows about all tumah in the world. If he really has the halachic status of a person, then there could never be a tumas hatehom from the time he went up to heaven in a fiery chariot. Since he sometimes comes to this world and he knows about all tumah, it must be that he has the halacha of an angel and not a person.
The Ben Ish Chai concluded, “May it be the will of Hashem that his merit guard us, Amen kein yehi ratzon!”

No comments: