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 Parshas Ki Seitzei - Vol. 5, Issue 46
Compiled by Oizer Alport


V’raisa b’shivya eishes y’fas toar v’chashakta ba v’lakachta lecha l’isha (21:11)

            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 concept is difficult to comprehend. The Torah is replete with warnings against becoming too familiar with the non-Jewish inhabitants of the land, yet it explicitly permits a soldier to take a non-Jewish woman home and marry her. Rashi explains that this apparently counter-intuitive permission was granted as a concession to the evil inclination. Hashem recognized that if He didn’t allow the soldier to marry this woman in a permissible fashion, he would do so illegally, so He made an allowance for this exceptional case.

Rav Yechezkel Abramsky derives from here an inspiring lesson. Judaism is such an all-encompassing religion, with laws governing virtually every aspect of daily life, that a person will almost surely encounter mitzvos that run counter to his nature. Although which mitzvah seems insurmountable will vary from person to person, it is likely that there will be laws that upon learning of them, one’s instinctive reaction will be to declare their observance beyond his capabilities.

From the fact that the Torah permitted a soldier to marry a y’fas toar as an acknowledgement that forbidding him to do so would represent an impossible task, we may conclude that our Maker clearly understands our human limitations. If He nevertheless commanded us regarding a particular mitzvah, it must be that He knows that we have within us the strength to overcome the evil inclination by properly observing that mitzvah.


Lo yavo Ammoni u’Moavi b’Kahal Hashem (23:4-5)

At the beginning of Parshas Vayeira, Avrohom was in the middle of speaking to Hashem when he looked up and noticed three men approaching him. Excited at the opportunity to perform the mitzvah of hosting guests, he ran to greet them (Bereishis 18:2). Although they appeared to him in the guise of Arab wayfarers, Rashi writes that in reality they were angels sent on Divine missions. Because an angel may perform only one unique mission, Hashem had to send three angels to Avrohom: one to announce that Sorah would conceive and bear a son, a second to cure Avrohom from the pain of his circumcision, and a third to destroy the town of Sodom.

Rashi adds that after healing Avrohom, the angel Rafael proceeded to save Lot from the destruction of Sodom. If the reason for sending multiple angels was because each may perform only one task, why didn’t Hashem send a fourth angel to rescue Lot, and once Rafael was able to perform multiple tasks, why wasn’t he able to come alone and do everything single-handedly?

The Chiddushei HaRim brilliantly explains that although Lot was a wicked heretic who had renounced his belief in Hashem and settled in the moral cesspool that was Sodom, he was nevertheless saved from the destruction which befell his neighbors in the merit of his future descendants Rus, Dovid, and ultimately Moshiach. However, the Gemora in Yevamos (76b) relates that in the time of Dovid, the status of all of these great individuals was called into question by Doeg HaEdomi. The Torah prohibits an Ammonite or Moabite to enter the Jewish people. Doeg argued that because Dovid was descended from the Moabite Rus, he was unfit not only to be king but even to marry into the Jewish nation.

The Gemora concludes that because the prohibition applies only to the males of these two nations and Dovid was descended from the female Rus, his ancestry was indeed acceptable. The reason for the prohibition against Ammonites and Moabites marrying into the Jewish people is because they didn’t greet the Jews with bread and water as they were leaving Egypt. Because it is the practice of men to go out and greet guests but for women to modestly remain in their homes, this lack of hospitality doesn’t reflect negatively on the females of these nations, who are therefore permitted to marry Jews. The Gemora derives the rule that a woman isn’t expected to go out to greet visitors from the behavior of Sorah, who modestly remained in her tent (18:9) as Avrohom hosted their three guests.

With this introduction, we can now understand why Hashem didn’t initially send a fourth angel to save Lot. In reality, Lot should have been destroyed along with the rest of Sodom, but because of the merits of his pious descendants he was saved. The ability of these offspring to become righteous members of the Jewish people, however, was dependent on their descent from a female Moabite. The female Ammonites and Moabites should have also been prohibited to marry into the Jewish nation, thereby negating any merit Lot could have had from his descendants.

However, because Sorah remained in her tent and taught the concept that a woman should remain in her home rather than go out to greet guests, Lot’s female descendants became permissible and his merit to be saved was confirmed. However, because this became clear only through the conduct of Sorah toward her guests, at the time of sending the three angels to Avrohom it would have been impossible to send a fourth to save Lot because his merit to be saved had yet to be established.


V’yased tih’yeh lecha al azeinecha v’haya b’shivt’cha chutz v’chafarta bah v’shavisa v’kis’sa es tzeiasecha (23:14)

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.


Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
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Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1)      The Gemora in Sanhedrin (73a) quotes 22:2 as one source for the obligation to save the life of another Jew, as if the Torah commands us to return to him his lost ox, certainly we must help return to him his very life. If the rescuer incurs costs by doing so, is the person that he saved legally obligated to reimburse him, and if so, is the rescuer required to save him if he knows that the person whose life is in danger is poor and will be unable to pay him back? (Rosh, Meiri, and Yad Ramah Sanhedrin 73a; Shu”t Maharam MiRottenburg 38, Rema Yoreh Deah 252:12, Kli Chemdah, Bishvilei HaParsha Parshas Kedoshim)

2)      The Torah prohibits (23:4-5) a person who is born to proper Jewish parents to marry an Ammonite or Moabite because they failed to give the Jewish people bread and water after the Exodus from Egypt. Why was there a need for them to do so when the Manna and well provided them anything they wanted to eat or drink? (Rabbeinu Bechaye, Paneiach Raza Parshas Devorim)

3)      The Vilna Gaon explains that a divorce document (24:1) is called a get because these letters aren’t found next to each other in any other word in the Hebrew language and therefore symbolize separation. However, there are 4 other 2-letter combinations which also never appear together. How many of them can you identify, and why is a divorce document called a get as opposed to one of these other combinations? (Taima D’Kra)

4)      Rashi writes (25:19) that in order to completely blot out the memory of Amalek, we must also destroy the possessions of the Amalekites so that their name shouldn’t be mentioned in conjunction with them. How was Esther permitted to accept the house of Haman (Esther 8:1), who was descended from Amalek? (Shu”t Oneg Yom Tov Introduction, Shem MiShmuel Purim, Imrei Emes, Nesivos Rabboseinu, Taima D’Kra Esther, Ma’adanei Asher 5769)

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