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Parshas Ki Seitzei - Vol. 10, Issue 45
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Parshas Ki Seitzei begins by discussing the y'fas toar - woman of beautiful form. The Torah permits a soldier who becomes infatuated with a non-Jewish woman during battle to marry her. This is difficult to understand, as only the most righteous individuals constituted the Jewish army. Rashi writes (20:8) that somebody who had committed even the smallest sin was sent back from the war. How could such pious Rabbis be tempted to marry a beautiful non-Jewish woman? Rashi writes that a person who marries a y'fas toar will ultimately give birth to a ben sorer u'moreh - wayward son. The Gemora in Sanhedrin (71a) rules that a child may only be punished as a rebellious son if his parents are identical in their voices, appearances, and height. Rav Shimon Moshe Diskin explains that even the most righteous soldier will be taken aback upon encountering a woman who looks like him and whose voice is identical to his. All external signs seem to indicate that she is meant for him, and he may be convinced that Hashem's will is for him to convert her to Judaism and marry her. However, from the fact that Rashi teaches that a wayward son will come out of such a union, we may conclude that the ideal marriage isn't one in which the husband and wife enter already identical to one another.
Dayan Yisroel Yaakov Fisher derives a similar lesson from Parshas Beha'aloscha. The Gemora in Shabbos (130a) teaches that any mitzvah which was accepted by the Jewish people with joy, such as circumcision, is still performed happily to the present day. Any mitzvah that was accepted with fighting, such as forbidden relationships (Rashi Bamidbar 11:10), is still accompanied by tension, as the issues involved in the negotiation of every wedding cause struggles. Of all of the commandments, why did the Jewish people specifically complain about the prohibition against marrying family members?
Dayan Fisher suggests that when the Jews heard that they would be unable to marry their close relatives, they feared that they would be unable to enjoy successful marriages. They believed that the ideal candidate for marriage would be a person who was familiar since birth and who would be almost identical in terms of values and stylistic preferences. From the Torah's prohibition to marry those most similar to us, we may deduce that Hashem's vision of an ideal marriage differs from our own. A Torah marriage is one in which the two partners grow together over time to understand and respect one another, allowing them to overcome their differences and create a beautiful, harmonious blend of their unique perspectives and experiences.
Rashi writes (Bereishis 48:8) that although Yaakov initially intended to bless Yosef's sons Ephraim and Menashe, he grew hesitant when he became aware that they would have wicked descendants. Yosef attempted to reassure Yaakov by showing him proof that he had married their mother according to Jewish law and they were his legitimate children. Although it was commendable that Yosef had been committed to properly marrying his wife even in the midst of the immoral Egyptians, how did this assuage Yaakov's concern that their offspring would include evil men?
The Torah L'Daas (Vol. 1) and Peninei Kedem offer a clever explanation based on the answer to a well-known question. A ben sorer u'moreh (wayward son) is put to death at a young age for the relatively minor (and non-capital) crimes of disobeying his parents, stealing from them, and overeating. Rashi explains that he is killed al shem sofo - although his present actions don't justify the death penalty, because they reveal that he is headed down a path that will lead that way, it is preferable for him to die now while he is still relatively innocent.
On the other hand, when Yishmael was sick in the desert and Hashem wished to miraculously create a well to heal him, the Heavenly angels challenged why He would help somebody whose descendants would later kill the Jewish people. Hashem answered that He only judges people באשר חוא שם - based on their actions at the present moment without taking into account what will happen in the future. If so, why is the wayward son punished based on his future actions?
The Maharsha and Ma'asei Hashem answer that the mother of the ben sorer u'moreh was a beautiful non-Jewish woman who was captured during war (Rashi 21:11). Even though the Torah permitted marrying her, it was only done as a concession to the yetzer hara (evil inclination) and in a sense, the child is considered to be the product of a sinful relationship. As a result, he is judged more stringently and held accountable for his future actions, as opposed to Yishmael who was born from a permitted relationship.
In light of this distinction, when Yosef saw Yaakov judging Ephraim and Menashe based on the future and refraining from blessing them as a result of their wicked descendants, he demonstrated that they were legitimate children from a proper marriage and therefore should only be judged based on their present (righteous) actions.
The Jewish people are commanded to designate a place outside of their camp to serve as a bathroom and to place a shovel there to enable a person to cover his waste in order to preserve the sanctity of the camp. The Gemora in Yoma (75b) questions the need for this, as the Manna which they ate was completely absorbed in their bodies without producing any waste. The Gemora explains that it was required due to the food items that they purchased from traveling merchants.
In his commentary on Pirkei Avos (3:3), Rav Chaim Volozhiner questions why the Gemora needed to make an assumption - that they purchased and consumed food from passing merchants. Couldn't the Gemora have answered more directly, that this procedure was necessary due to their consumption of sacrifices, something which is explicitly discussed in the Torah?
Rav Chaim Volozhiner explains that since the sin of Adam, all food items have contained within them both valuable nutrients and unnecessary components, which humans must excrete as waste. However, food which comes from heaven, such as Manna, is purely spiritual and contains no wasteful parts, thus allowing it to be directly and completely absorbed into the body.
From the fact that the Gemora chose not to attribute the need for bathroom facilities to the consumption of the sacrifices, we may conclude that the Heavenly fire on the Altar consumed any superfluous components of the animals burned thereon, thereby elevating the meat to the status of Divine food which was completely absorbed in the body.
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) A child is declared a ben sorer u'moreh - wayward and rebellious son - for stealing and gluttonously consuming meat and wine (Rashi 21:18). Although none of these is itself a capital crime, Rashi explains that he is punished and killed today based on his future actions, as such a child will eventually murder to steal money to support his excessive desires. One who murders is put to death by the sword (Rambam Hilchos Rotzeach 1:1). Even if the child is to be punished today based on his future actions, why is he killed by stoning (21:21), which is an even more severe form of execution than the sword which is used for a person who has actually committed the crime? (Daas Z'keinim, Paneiach Raza, Chizkuni, Sifsei Chochomim, Maharsha Sanhedrin 72a, Maharil Diskin, Har Tzvi, Torah L'Daas Vol. 10, K'Motzei Shalal Rav, M'rafsin Igri)
2) The Targum Yonason ben Uziel renders the prohibition (22:5) against female use of male garments as forbidding a woman to wear tefillin or tzitzis. How can this be reconciled with the Gemora in Eiruvin (96a) which relates that Shaul's daughter Michal wore tefillin with the consent of the Sages? (Levush Orach Chaim 17:2, Derech Sicha, Mishmeres Ariel)
3) It is forbidden to plow with an ox and donkey together (22:10). The Rambam rules (Hilchos Kilaim 9:7) that this prohibition applies to any case of plowing with one kosher animal and one non-kosher animal. How is it possible that somebody plowed with 2 animals of the same species, yet violated this commandment? (Rivan Makkos 22a, Mishneh L'Melech Hilchos Kilaim 9:11)
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