Try to imagine the standard of ritual purity and cleanliness held by the Kohein Gadol, the High Priest, the spiritual envoy of the Jewish people to the Almighty whose role demanded that he never come in contact with a dead body, prohibiting him from escorting even his own parents, spouse, siblings, or children to their final resting places.
Nevertheless, if the Kohein Gadol encountered a meis mitzvah — the unattended corpse of an unidentified stranger — while on his way to perform the service in the Beis HaMikdash, the Torah obligated him to provide a proper and immediate burial, even if that meant an underling would have to assume his duties in the Temple. The honor of his fellow Jew and respect for the divinity that resides within every member of his nation had to take precedence over virtually any other concern.
The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaKohein Kagan, applies this precept in an unexpected direction.
Read the whole article here on Block Yeshiva’s new blog.