Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Yirah / Shaleim -- two names for the same place

In Parshas Lech Lecha we read that Malkitzedek, the king of Shaleim, brought out food and wine for Avraham.  That same place of Shaleim would later be renamed Yireh by Avraham Avinu in the parsha of the akeidah.  Two names given to the same place by two great people -- which one would win out?  The Midrash (parsha 56) writes that Hashem made a comprimise.  He combined the two into one and thus we have the name Yeru-shalayim.

What difference does it really make what you call the place?  It's still the same city, the same place on the map?

Rav Kook explains that the two names reflect two different approaches to religious development.  One approach is the philosophical approach, coming to Hashem through contemplation.  The other approach is the approach of tikun ha'midos, fighting off the yetzer ha'ra and the influence of evil and in doing so coming to purity.  Malkitzedek is the "kohen l'K-l Elyon," the master of looking on high, contemplating G-d in the heavens.  Avraham, on the other hand, saw the need for yirah, for bringing things down to earth,  dealing with the world and all its temptations and imperfections and bringing G-dliness to it.

Yerushalayim is the meeting place of both worlds.  It is the place where the Beis haMikdrash in heaven stands exactly corresponding to the Beis haMikdash on earth. 

Rav Aviner writes that after the Six Day War he asked R' Tzvi Yehudah by what zechuyos we had earned having Yerushalayim in our possession.  R' Tzvi Yehudah answered that it was not our zechuyos -- we surely are not deserving -- but rather it is a gift from Hashem.

I think it's a davar pashut that if someone gives you a gift, kal v'chomer if G-d gives you a gift, that you have to say thank you and show your appreciation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

punishment in exact measure

A) "V'zacharti es brisi Ya'akov v'af es brisi Yitzchak v'af es brisi Ya'akov ezkor v'ha'aretz ezkor." (26:42)  It sounds like this is a bracha, but the pasuk is actually part of the tochacha.  The Shl"H explains that if a child grows up without a role model or training, it's not surprising if the child becomes a monster.  But if the child has wonderful parents who are excellent role models and the child still becomes a monster, then something is really wrong with that child.  Klal Yisrael does not lack for role models.  When Hashem looks at our behavior, he remembers that we are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov.  We should know better and we should do better. 

Last year I quoted R' Eliyahu Lopian's (in the essay 'Ha'kove'a Makom l'Tefilaso' in the Ma'areches HaTeshuvah section in Lev Eliyahu) question: we quote this pasuk among the zichronos that we recite in musaf on Rosh haShana.  The halacha says that we are not allowed to recite pesukim that have negative implications or associations in the zichronos.  If the Shl"H's pshat is correct, what is this pasuk doing there?   Why would we mention a pasuk of rebuke?  R' Lopian ends by saying the answer is a deep yesod that he will explain some other time -- and then he leaves us hanging.

I discovered this year that the same question is asked by another one of the great ba'alei mussar, R' Ya'akov Neiman.  R' Neimen writes that al korchacha we must say that the pasuk is in fact an expression of rachamim.  So what's it doing in the tochacha?  He answers that we should not think that when there is a time of tochacha and Klal Yisrael is suffering punishment that Hashem has just abandoned us to fate.  To the contrary, even amidst the suffering, even when we deserve punishment, Hashem says, "v'zacharti es brisi," I Hashem still remember the covenant between us, and that punishment will be precisely meted out, no more than is deserved.

He gives two example to prove the point:

1) When Yosef is sold into slavery by his brothers, the Torah tells us that he was taken down to Egypt by a caravan of spice/perfume sellers.  Rashi explains (Br 37:25) that the Torah gives us this detail to tell us that Hashem spared Yosef from having to travel in a foul smelling wagon.  Here Yosef has been betrayed by his brothers, he has become captive to strangers, he is on the way to a foreign land to await some unknown fate -- would the caravan's odor really make that much difference to him at this point?  It's like a poor guy dressed in a ragged shirt, pants that have patches and holes, torn shoes, but he stops to put on a beautiful tie before he leaves his home.  What sense does it make in context?  Answers R' Neiman, Yosef may have deserved to have to become a slave in Egypt, but he did not deserve any more than that.  He did not deserve to suffer stink on his way down.  That's the "v'zacharti es brisi...."  Punishment -- yes, but not one drop more than is deserved.  The precise calibration is itself a nechama, in that it shows Hashem is in charge of every detail.

2) In describing the slav birds that Hashem brought in response to the people's complaints, the Torah in Parshas Be'ha'alosecha tells us that they were piled two amos high off the ground (11:31).  Rashi explains the significance of this detail: the birds were at just the right height to be taken, so that a person would not have to exert himself to reach up or to bend over.  Whoever ate those birds, continues the parsha, died.  The birds were sent as a punishment for the people's complaints.  Given the end result of suffering death, would having to reach up or down a little bit to grab the bird make any difference?  

Here too, answers R' Neiman, the point is that the punishment was precisely calibrated.  The extra exertion was underserved, and therefore was not included in the package.

B) Just before this pasuk of v'zachati the Torah describes how Klal Yisrael will ultimately confess their wrongdoing, v'hisvadu es avonam (26:40).  You would think that would be the end of the galus, but it's not.  The parsha continues, "v'ha'aretz tei'azev meihem," the land will still not take them back, "ya'an ub'ya'an b'mishpatai ma'asu v'es chukosai ga'alah nafsham."  Why is the teshuvah not enough?  Netziv explains that the chukim referred to here are Torah laws.  (Remember the beginning of the parsha: Im b'chukosai teilechu - explains Rashi, this refers to ameilus b'Torah.)  You can want to do mitvos, you can want to have a connection with Hashem, but, says the Netziv, without limud haTorah, it's not enough.  

He quotes from Hoshea 8:2-3: "Li yi'zaku 'Elokai, y'da'anucha Yisrael!'" The Jewish people will cry out to G- that they want to know him, to have a relationship with him. Tehsuvah!  But, continues the navi, "Zanach Yisrael tov, oyev yirdifo."  The Jewish people have abandoned tov, and therefore their enemies [continue] to puruse them.  What is the tov the navi is referring to?  Chazal tell us that ain tov eleh Torah, it refers to Torah.  Without limud haTorah, one's spirituality, one's moral and religious development, can never be complete.

I saw a local Rabbi was planning to speak on Shavuos on the topic of the role of the intellect in avodas Hashem.  I thought that was an interesting title for a shiur.  Would anyone think of giving a shiur about the role of one's arm in the mitzvah of tefillin?  Of course not -- it's obvious that an arm is essential to the mitzvah.  What's there to talk about?  Once upon a time I think it was obvious that the intellect is THE primary tool for avodas Hashem.  You might even say that in a nutshell the mussar movement came about to try to involve more than intellect -- the heart, the midos, etc.  But the presumption was that the intellect was the bedrock.  That's what the Netziv is telling us -- without Torah, mitzvos, spirituality, etc. can't get off the ground.  It seems that we've reached a point in history where v'nahapoch hu, there is a lot of people who want to feel spiritual, who want to sing and enjoy cholent, maybe do lots of chessed, support his cause or that cause, but where is the intellect?  Where is the bedrock of limud haTorah to ground it all?  The title of that shiur reinforced my impression that the presumption these days is that intellect is the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae, rather than the foundation upon which everything rests.  You can be a good Jew without the Ketzos and R' Chaim, can't you?  Well, I'm afraid the answer is no.  (For all I know maybe that's what this Shavuos shiur will be about - - I don't really know.)  Anyway, maybe I'm wrong about my read of things -- the Netziv is still a great point even if you disagree with my social commentary, and it certainly something to take to heart as we approach Shavuos.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

every day can be a holiday

The Midrash (28:1) writes that the Chachamim wanted to put sefer Koheles in geniza because they thought it heretical ( modern books that have been banned by "gedolim" can consider themselves in good company!)  Shlomo haMelech tells us, "Mah yisron l'adam b'chol amalo..." what good is all the toil of man.  Can it be that  Shlomo was suggesting that toil in Torah has no value? 

The Chachamim reread the pasuk so that in fact it does give us a positive message.  It doesn't say "amal" - toil; it says "amalo" - his [man's] toil.  Toiling in the mundane affairs of man does not accomplish anything; toiling in G-ds Torah is worthwhile work.  Koheles is giving is the right message.

Asks the Sefas Emes (5656): what was the hava amina of the Midrash?  The thrust of sefer Koheles is that the secular world davka is "hevel havalom," but "sof davar ha'kol nishma..." yiras shamayim and Torah and mitzvos have real value.  How can the Midrash even entertain the thought that Shlomo meant to suggest that ameilus in Torah is worthless?

If not for the Sefas Emes I would suggest that perhaps you can explain the Midrash using a vort that we've all heard said over at siyumim.  In the hadran we say that "anu ameilim v'heim amelilim....," that we work and the non-Jews work, but while we get reward for our work, they don't.  What does that mean -- don't even non-Jews get a salary for their work?  The famous answer is that in the secular world, you get paid for the finished product.  The labor is just a means to the end.  In Torah, G-d rewards us even for the toil.  You can spend the whole day trying to understand a hava amina that has no bearing on the final halacha and you still get credit for learning.  Maybe the hava amina of the Midrash is that toil in Torah is no different than toil at any other occupation and it's only the final product -- what you come away with in the maskana -- that counts.  "Amal," the work to get there, has no value.  Kah mashma lan the Midrash that there is reward in Torah even for the ameilus, even for just the work, independent of the results.

But the Sefas Emes says a better pshat.

The parsha has a long section listing the chagim that opens with the introduction, "Eileh moadei Hashem... sheishes yamim tei'aseh melacha u'bayom ha'shevi'i Shabbos shabbason... (23:2-3)  Some meforshim are bothered by the fact that the list of holidays begins with Shabbos, which is not a mo'ed.  I don't know if that question will cause anyone to lose too much sleep because we sort of understand that there is a relationship between Shabbos and other holidays in that that all of them have kedushas zman.  The whole question, however, is misplaced, because the list of holidays does not really begin with Shabbos.  The list of holidays begins with "sheishes yamim tei'aseh melacha," work should be done on the six days that precede (or come after, depending on how you look at at) every Shabbos.  The six work days of the week certainly have no kedusha, are not holidays, and would seem to have no place on the list.  The real question is why begin the list of moadim with them?

On Yom Kippur we know that the kohen gadol has to dunk in the mikvah between every change of clothes, from gold to white and white to gold, etc.  The Chasam Sofer last week in Acharei Mos writes that we understand that when the kohen gadol switches from gold garments to white so he can enter the kodesh kodashim, he is going into a holier place than normal,  he will be doing avodah that is more special than normal, and so he has to go to mikveh to enter a higher state of purity.  But why dunk again on the way out, to switch back to gold?   That's a step down, not a step up? 

The Chasam Sofer says a yesod: after the kohen has experienced the higher level he was at in the kodesh kodashim and comes out, those gold garments he changes into are not the same gold garments as before.  Life is different now.  It may look the same, it may fit the same, but it's not the same.  The higher level the kohen was on sticks with him even as he returns to the gold garments that he wore before.

When a nazir completes his vow of nezirus, the Torah tells us, "achar yishteh ha'nazir ya'yin," afterwards the nazir can drink wine.  Shem m'Shmuel asks: why does the Torah says "the nazir" can drink wine -- he is not a nazir anymore once his vow is up?!  The answer is the same yesod the Chasam Sofer is telling us.  The whole point of that period of abstinence is so that once the vow is complete, the person is still a nazir, he still retains his kedusha.  He may be able to now drink wine, but he is not the same person as before.

Coming back to the parsha of the moadim, the Kozhiglover in Eretz Tzvi writes that the cycle of moadim is not about spending a week here and a week there in a state of holiness and the rest of the year in a different, secular world.  The point of the parsha is that the week here and a week there we bask in revealed kedusha give us something to take with us and make part of the rest of our lives so that the six work days we come back to are different days than before.  The same kedusha that we experienced in the mo'ed is still there afterwards, albeit in hidden form, albeit without generating an issur melacha, but it's part of our lives.  "Sheishes yamim tei'aseh melacha..." is a mo'ed too.

Now the table is set for the Sefas Emes.  Peshita that a guy sitting and learning is accomplishing, while someone working so he can buy himself a new car or gadget is wasting his time.  There was never a hava amina otherwise.  But what about the person who works as a doctor and treats the poor without charging -- is he he/she simply toiling for nothing?  Is the person who spends a few hours helping a friend in need wasting his time with worthless work?  That's what bothered Chazal. 

Of course you get credit for poring over a Rashba in the beis medrash.  But what the Midrash is telling us is that to take the Rashba out of the beis medrash, to bring G-d into everything you do, to find G-d in everything that you do, to make the "sheishes yamim..." holy too, that' takes real work.  You can toil as a doctor, a plumber, a lawyer, and it can be "mah yisron l'adam b'kol amalo," or you can toil as a doctor, a plumber, a lawyer, and it can be ameilius of Torah and the highest value.    

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

l'hazhir gedolim al ha'ketanim

The Rambam writes in Hil Aveilus 3:5:

המטמא את הכהן. אם היו שניהם מזידין הרי הכהן לוקה וזה שטמאו עובר על ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול. היה הכהן שוגג וזה שטמאו מזיד הרי זה שטמאו לוקה:

It's not clear in the first case, where someone is m'tamei a kohen, what wrong action the kohen did that would lead to his being chayav malkos, but even harder to understand is the second case, where the kohen is shogeg and someone is intentionally m'tamei him.  Why does the m'tamei get malkos?  There is lifnei iveir in causing someone to sin (like in the first case), but why more than that?

There is a parallel Rambam at the end of Kilayim 10:31:

 המלביש את חבירו כלאים אם היה הלובש מזיד הלובש לוקה והמלביש עובר משום ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול. ואם לא ידע הלובש שהבגד הוא כלאים והיה המלביש מזיד המלביש לוקה והלובש פטור

And similar questions are raised there by the Kesef Mishne.

Since it relates to our parsha I want to point out a second difficulty with the Rambam. Rashi tells us at the beginning of our parsha tells us that the double-language of "amor... v'amarta" teaches "l'hazhir gedolim al ha'ketanim." The din (see Yevamos 114) is that adults are not obligated to stop children from doing issurim - "katan ochel neveilos ain beis din metzuvim l'hafrisho." A father may have to stop a child from sinning as a function of chinuch, but that's between father and child and no one else. The Tur writes that our parsha is an exception to the rule -- "l'hazhir gedolim" means adults have to intervene if the a child kohen is going to be m'tamei himself. The simple pshat in the gemara, and this is the Rambam's position, is not like the Tur. "L'hazhir gedolim" does not mean that an adult has to intervene if the child chooses to be m'tamei himself.  What it means is that there is an issur of an adult being m'tamei a child, even though the child is not chayav anything.

Minchas Chinuch and others ask: why do we need a special derasha to teach us this issur to be m'tamei a child?  The Rambam himself, as we saw above, holds that someone who is m'tamei a kohen is chayav malkos where the kohen himself is shogeg. What's the difference between being m'atmei a kohen who is shogeg and therefore not liable himself and being m'tamei a kohen who is a katan and therefore not liable? If the m'tamei is chayav malkos in the first case, isn't the second case obviously true by extension?

I barely have time to write up the questions, so don't hold your breath for a post with answers : (  

Thursday, May 04, 2017

chilul Hashem -- a cheit bein adam l'chaveiro

Mitzvos apply equally to everyone and anyone chayav in them.  The Torah says, for example, to eat matzah, and so whether you are Joe Ploni or whether you are R' Akiva Eiger you have to eat the same amount of matzah in the same time span.  No so when it comes to the mitzvah of kedushah.  The redundancy of "kol adas Bnei Yisrael," explains Netziv, means that the mitzvah of being kadosh was not given to everyone equally as a blanket one size fits all chiyuv, but rather it was given to each individual member of Klal Yisrael according to his/her ability.  This would mean that for someone on a higher level, acting with greater kedusha is not a hidur, but is a necessary. 

The gemara (Yoma 86) writes that teshuvah and Yom Kippur cannot wash away the sin of chilul Hashem.  It can only be expiated by the sinner's death.  Why should that be so?  The Meshech Chochma (19:12, see Rav Cooperman's notes) quotes the derasha of Chazal (Sh 114) on the pasuk "...kol m'san'ai ahavu ma'ves" not to read it as "m'san'ai" but rather as "masni'ai" -- not "those who hate me [G-d]," but rather, "those who cause me [G-d] to be hated."  If a talmid chacham does not act properly, does not dress properly, e.g. he walks around in stained clothes, does not appear dignified, then people will lose respect for Torah.  Rashi in Yoma (86a d"h chilul Hashem) explains chilul Hashem means being "chotei u'machti," causing others to sin.  In other words, chilul Hashem is not just an offense against G-d -- it's an offense against man, a bein adam l'chaveiro problem.  Who knows how many people may have seen this "talmid chacham" who does not act properly and been negatively influenced?  Who knows how many people were caused spiritual harm by his bad example?  A bein adam l'chaveiro requires making restitution to those who were harmed.  It's one thing to return stolen goods, to repay someone for damages caused to their property, but how to you restore faith that was has stolen from others?  

The Mishna in Avos 5:18 tells us that a "chotei u'machti es ha'rabim" will not be able to do teshuvah.  Bartenu explains that teshuvah is precluded because otherwise the chotei might end up on gan eden while those he led astray would be in gehenom, which would not be fair.  Based on the Meshech Chochma's approach, it is impossible to do teshuvah because it is impossible to make restitution. 

I was wondering if the Rambam agrees with this definition of chilul Hashem as being chotei u'machti.  He writes in Yesodei haTorah 5:11:

ויש דברים אחרים שהן בכלל חילול השם. והוא שיעשה אותם אדם גדול בתורה ומפורסם בחסידות דברים שהבריות מרננים אחריו בשבילם. ואע"פ שאינן עבירות הרי זה חילל את השם כגון שלקח ואינו נותן דמי המקח לאלתר. והוא שיש לו ונמצאו המוכרים תובעין והוא מקיפן. או שירבה בשחוק או באכילה ושתיה אצל עמי הארץ וביניהן. או שדבורו עם הבריות אינו בנחת ואינו מקבלן בסבר פנים יפות אלא בעל קטטה וכעס. וכיוצא בדברים האלו הכל לפי גדלו של חכם צריך שידקדק על עצמו ויעשה לפנים משורת הדין. וכן אם דקדק החכם על עצמו והיה דבורו בנחת עם הבריות ודעתו מעורבת עמהם ומקבלם בסבר פנים יפות ונעלב מהם ואינו עולבם. מכבד להן ואפילו למקילין לו. ונושא ונותן באמונה. ולא ירבה באריחות עמי הארץ וישיבתן. ולא יראה תמיד אלא עוסק בתורה עטוף בציצית מוכתר בתפילין ועושה בכל מעשיו לפנים משורת הדין. והוא שלא יתרחק הרבה ולא ישתומם. עד שימצאו הכל מקלסין אותו ואוהבים אותו ומתאוים למעשיו הרי זה קידש את ה' ועליו הכתוב אומר ויאמר לי עבדי אתה ישראל אשר בך אתפאר:

According to Rashi, bad behavior by the talmid chacham is wrong because there is always a therefore... that follows -- therefore, people will be led astray.  The Rambam doesn't mention this.  It sounds like the negative behavior itself is the issue; the very fact that the "talmid chacham" falls short of what is expected of him is wrong.   

Thursday, April 27, 2017

only skin deep

"V'haya b'or besaro l'nega tzara'as..."  Chazal tell us that as a general rule that the word "v'haya" portends something good happening.  What's so good about having a nega tzara'as?  (I haven't done a survey of all the places it comes up, but my off the cuff impression is that the Ohr haChaim frequently addresses how pesukim that seem to be an exception do in fact fit the rule.  Interestingly, here he is silent about the issue.)  

The answer in two words, says the Alshich, is "b'or besaro."  Sometimes the rot you see on the surface is indicative of some deep rooted problem.  Here, the Torah says that when a Jew gets tzara'as, which comes because of cheit, the sin is literally only skin deep.  At his/her core, a Jew is always unspoiled.  Cheit is just mikra, not b'etzem, to borrow the Maharal's formulation.  It's like when you have to have your car brought to the mechanic after a collision and you think it's a goses and it's all over.  When you hear that it just needs some body work to get out the dents you almost feel like saying "Baruch Hashem -- that's great!"  because it means everything under the hood is OK and it will keep running.  Tzara'as is a sign that repairs are needed, but there is a note of simcha there because under the hood we are all OK.   

The sin that is the cause of tzara'as is lashon ha'ra, but nowhere does the Torah say not to speak lashon ha'ra.  Instead, the Torah tells us to remember what Hashem did to Miriam when she spoke against Moshe.  1) If the point is to prohibit us from lashon ha'ra, then why not say so directly?  2) Hashem didn't do anything to Miriam -- Hashem doesn't deliberately choose to bring harm on people.  People suffer because they bring punishment upon themselves by their behavior.  If you put your hand on a hot stove, you get burned, but it's not like the stove decided to do anything -- you brought the burn upon yourself.  Why does the Torah tell us to remember what Hashem did to Miriam instead of telling us to remember what Miriam did?  

Sefas Emes (5638) these questions with the same yesod we learned from the Alshich.  The point of "zachor eis asher asah Hashem Elokecha l'Miriam..." is not to warn us against speaking lashon ha'ra -- there are other sources for that.  The pasuk is not an issur and not a threat of punishment; the pasuk is a gift of great news.  An analogy: imagine someone who lives on the worst fast food out there -- the greasy, fatty, salty stuff three meals a day every day.  You can serve up the most unhealthy meal and that person can eat it without a problem.  If someone else who is used to eating healthy, who eats only good food prepared well, is served the same meal, they will vomit it right up.  That's not a sign of weakness -- aderaba, it's a sign that their body is healthy.  The whole world is busy munching on lashon ha'ra, the worst fast food for the neshoma, all day every day.  Hashem here is telling us that if we try that same diet, we are going to break out in tzara'as.  He made it -- it's not natually that way -- so that we can't absorb that food.  It's because our neshomos are pure and healthy that we react that way. 

P.S. My wife had an interesting original idea on the parsha here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

welcome to the big leagues

Isn't it amazing how people descend on supermarkets like a swarm of locusts and buy out every crumb of chameitz as soon as Pesach is over?  It defies rational explanation.  I expect to eventually see someone setup a tent on Central Ave in the 5 Towns on chol ha'moed so they can camp out in front of the pizza store to be first on line to get that first pie after Yom Tov.  Anyway, welcome back everybody!

"Yom ha'shmini," the day the opening of our parsha focusses on, was one of the greatest days in history.  Chazal (Shabbos 87) tell us that the day had 10 crowns, i.e. there were 10 reasons why the day was special, from it being the day on which creation happened to it being the day in which the mishkan was inaugurated and Aharon began serving as kohen gadol.  It was opening day x10.  Yet Rashi writes in Yisro (Shmos 24:9) that Nadav and Avihu were really chayav misa back then for improperly gazing at Hashem's presence (whatever that means) but Hashem let the cheit go until our parsha so as to not disrupt the joy of kabbalas haTorah.  "Yom ha'shmini," as joyous and great as it was, could be marred by Nadav and Avihu's death, but the simcha of Torah cannot be disturbed.  There is no simcha as great as the simcha of Torah.

During the 7 days of milu'im Moshe brought korbanos on behalf of Aharon and his children.  Among them was a par offered as a chatas, which was meant, explains Rashi (Shmos 19:1), as a kapparah for cheit ha'eigel.  In our parsha we read that on yom ha'shmini Aharon himself offered the korbanos, and among them was an eigel offered as a chatas meant, as Rashi (9:2) explains, as a kapparah for cheit ha'eigel.  Didn't we do that already?  Why did Aharon need to bring another chatas for kapprah for cheit ha'eigel when korbanos had been offered for that purpose during the milu'im?   

Maharal in Gur Aryeh answers (not exactly in these words) that it's like a minor league player who is the talk of the triple A league, but then makes it to the majors and finds his ability questioned on the back pages every time he has a bad game.  Those very same back pages of the newspaper had only the highest praise when he was in the minors, so what changed?  The answer is simple: welcome to the big leagues.  Stepping up to the next level invites greater scrutiny and demands greater accountability.

The Midrash darshens "u'Pharoah hikriv" by Yam Suf (why hitpa'el?) that we just read at the end of Peach as telling us that Pharoah's pursuit of Klal Yisrael inspired them to teshuvah more than any words of mudsar or chastisement could have done.  But what was Klal Yisrael doing teshuvah for?  They had just come from offering korban pesach, doing milah, experiencing yetzi'as Mitzrayim, not from any wrongdoing (see Imrei Emes)?  Perhaps the point is the same: davka because they were now free from Egypt, free from the environment that dragged them down to sin, Klal Yisrael had a greater responsibility to introspect and improve further.  Climbing to the next level does not absolve one from obligation -- it creates greater obligations.

"Yom ha'shmini" was a different league from the 7 days of milu'im.  Kapparah that may have sufficed in the past now needs to be re-examined and taken to another level.

I have the old edition of the Maharal at home and that's how I understood the point when I read it, but then I saw in Rav Hartman's footnotes in the new edition that he understands it a bit differently.  Maharal holds that there are certain pivotal moments in Jewish history.  Just as we hopefully want to seize those moments for good, the yetzer ha'ra works even harder than usual to thwart us and turn those moments sour.  That's why we find that during what should have been a time of spiritual greatness, matan Torah, there was a cheit ha'eigel.  Precisely because there was such positive energy, there was a counterbalancing of explosive negative energy that the yetzer marshaled to thwart us.  So too, at the time of "yom ha'shmini," because this day was a pivotal moment, an extra kapparah was needed so as to not have a recurrence of an eigel situation.

Perhaps this sheds light on why Moshe reacted with anger when he saw what he thought was an error being made and korbanos being disposed of and not eaten after Aharon and his sons became aveilim.  R' Simcha Zisel of Kelm puts it in context: Aharon has just lost his sons; his other children have lost their brother.  Even if they were in error in disposing of the korbanos, wouldn't it be understandable given their grief?  Did they deserve to be questioned so harshly?  Yet the greater context is that this is a one time pivotal moment in Jewish history, a day that can never be duplicated.  Evil lurks waiting to once again spoilt the show.  As sensitive as he was to his brother's and nephew's plight, Moshe was also sensitive to history hanging in the balance.  

Speaking of auspicious days in Jewish history, this is a great article by Shmuel Sackett.