Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 17   No. 46

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Parshas Ki Savo

The Twelve Stones
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The twelve stones (one for each tribe [Yehoshua 4:5]) that they took from the Yarden, Rabeinu Bachye explains, were meant to commemorate the great miracle of the crossing of the Yarden (Ibid. 4:8).

They set them up in Gilgal, their first stop after entering the land, he adds, to remind the people how the water of the Jordan River split before the Aron, thereby enabling Yisrael to cross. They had to take large stones, he adds, because they were ordered to write on them the entire Torah - in seventy languages (besides Lashon ha'Kodesh).

It seems to me that this entire episode comes to add a practical reminder that the entire purpose of crossing the Yarden and entering Eretz Yisrael was in order to keep Torah and Mitzvos, a lesson that appears in the Torah many times (see for example (Kapitel 105:44/45). Indeed, some commentaries interpret the entire Torah that they wrote on the stones as the Taryag Mitzvos. It was meant to serve as a reminder that if not for the Torah that we would keep in Eretz Yisrael, we had no more right to the Land than those who were being deprived of it; It was a warning that if we failed to keep Torah and Mitzvos, we too, would be deprived of the right to live there.


The author then proceeds to explain the procedure of the Mitzvah in detail. To begin with, he says, they re-placed a set of twelve equivalent stones in the Yarden, from where they had taken them. These were for the Kohanim (who remained in the Rivfer, holding the Aron whilst Yisrael crossed) to stand on, to prevent them from sinking in the mud. Those stones, he says, are there until this day.

Apart from the two sets of stones that we described, there is a third set, R. Bachye explains, with which they constructed a Mizbei'ach on Har Eival (where the curses were read out), as the Pasuk describes in Yehoshua (8:32). And that is what prompts Rashi to write here (27:1) that there were three sets of stones. Initially, this seems to conform with the Gemara in Sotah (35b), (which R. Bachye quotes) which mentions three sets of stones. However, upon reflection, this is not the case. Indeed, the Riva queries Rashi from that very Gemara, which explains that the additional set of stones was erected by Moshe in the land of Mo'av, and omits the set that according to Rashi, was erected on Har Eival).


Based on the Pesukim however, R. Bachye concludes that in fact, they took only twenty-four (two sets of) stones from the Yarden, and not thirty-two, as Rashi explains. This is because the twelve stones that they carried with them across the Yarden, they initially set up on Har Eival, as we explained, There they constructed a Mizbei'ach and offered Korbanos on it. Then they plastered them with lime and wrote on them the entire Torah in seventy languages. Following that, they dismantled the Mizbei'ach and took the stones with them to Gilgal, where they erected them once more, leaving them standing there as a reminder of the crossing of the Yarden. In fact, the footnote explains, the Gemara in Sotah too, specifically states that this is what they did, only R. Bachye, like Rashi, makes no mention of the third set of stones, which according to the Gemara, Moshe set up in Eiver ha'Yarden.

To arrive at this explanation, R. Bachye explains Pasuk three in the form of a K'lal (a general statement), and the subsequent Pesukim as a P'rat (a detailed account). By so doing, he avoids having to explain that the Torah simply repeats the instructions to write on the stones, creating the obvious impression that they wrote on two lots of stones, both of which they carried across the Yarden, as he explained initially. Moreover, says the author, unless Pasuk three is a Kl'al and Pasuk five. a P'rat, we will have the additional problem of why the Pasuk first mentions the Mitzvah of writing the Torah on the stones, and then that of constructing the Mizbei'ach, when it is obvious that the construction of the Mizbei'ach came first?

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Keeping it Fresh

"On this day Hashem your G-d is commanding you to carry out these statutes " (26:16).

In view of the fact that the Torah had in fact, been given forty years earlier, Rashi comments 'Every day they should be for you new, as if they had been commanded on that day' like he comments on the Pasuk in the second paragraph of the Sh'ma " if you will listen to My Mitzvos which I will command you today".

R. Bachye observes however, that although Rashi's quotation is accurate with regard to Chazal's statement concerning the latter, here, what they actually say is that 'Every day they should be for you precious (Chavivin)'.

Elaborating on this Chazal in general, he attributes its significance to the fact that, as human nature goes, people tend to take things seriously as long as they are still fresh, but forget them with the passing of time. Consequently, even signs and wonders that make a deep impression at the time that they occur, all too soon begin to fade from one's memory. That explains why the Torah sees fit to warn us to ensure that the Mitzvos should remain as dear to us as they were when they were given to us at Har Sinai; and that the miracles that we witnessed there should remain fresh in our minds as they were then.


Taking His Cue from Us

"You have designated (he'emarta) Hashem today to be for you a G-d " (26:17).

This is one of many translations of the word "he'emarta" (see Rashi and commentaries).

R. Bachye, citing R. Yehudah ha'Levi, gives the source of the word as (the Hif'il [the causative form] of)"omar" (to say). What the Pasuk is therefore saying is that by virtue of our acceptance of the Torah, we caused Hashem to say that He would become our G-d, i.e. that He would remove us from the jurisdiction of the celestial powers which govern every other nation, and that from then on, He would supervise and protect us, personally.


Taking Our Cue from Him

"And He designated us to be for Him a treasured nation " (26:18).

And by the same token (see previous Pearl), He performed so may wonders and miracles on our behalf that He caused us to say that we would become His treasured nation, provided that is, that we keep His Mitzvos, as the Torah wrote in Yisro (19:5) "If you will listen to My Voice and observe My covenant, you will be for Me a treasure from among all the nations. For it is the keeping of the Mitzvos (and nothing else) that renders Yisrael superior to the other nations, to earn the title of 'G-d's treasured nation.


To Accept the Entire Torah

"Cursed be the man who does not uphold all the words of this Torah" (27:26).

This incorporates all the Mitzvos of the Torah, R. Bachye explains. What the Torah therefore means is that we are obligated to believe that the Torah is true in its entirety, that there is not one single Mitzvah that is not beneficial both to one's body and to one's Soul - that not one Mitzvah is superfluous, and that we are therefore duty-bound to observe them all. And that anybody who fails to believe this is cursed!


The Yerushalmi interprets this Pasuk with regard to the person who performs the Mitzvah of Hagbahah (lifting up the Seifer-Torah after Kriy'as ha'Torah), who is obligated to open it three columns and to lift it up for everybody in Shul to see. Failing that, he is cursed!


The Name of G-d is Upon You

"And the nations of the land will see that the Name of Hashem is attached (Sheim Hashem Nikra) to you " (28:2).

They will realize, R. Bachye explains, that unlike every nation, who lies under the jurisdiction of a celestial power, K'lal Yisrael lies under the direct jurisdiction of G-d Himself, who is the Supreme Governor of all the Celestial Powers. One cannot compare a servant of one of the king's officers to the servant of the King himself, whom even the officers and the deputies hold in awe.




The author observes how the first letters of "Sheim Hashem Nikra" spell 'Shiyn', whose numerical value is three hundred, the equivalent to the Gematriyah of the Name of Hashem (Havayah) in 'Atbash' (where 'Alef' equals 'Tav', 'Beis' equals 'Shiyn', and 'Gimel' equals 'Resh' ). Consequently, it is as if the Torah had written "And the nations will see that the 'Shiyn' i.e. (Hashem) is upon you, and they will be afraid of you" (or, as others explain, they will learn from you to fear G-d).

And he also points out that if one deducts the fifty days of Shabbos and the thirteen days Yom-Tov (in Chutz la'Aretz) all the days in the year day on which Tefilin are not worn, one is left with three hundred days on which they are - a clear support for the Minhag of the Misnagdim (in Chutz la'Aretz) to wear Tefilin on Chol ha'Mo'ed.

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'And if you arrive at a decision to worship their gods, then I shall create enmity between you and those nations and you will know no rest ' (28:65).


'And G-d will exile you to Egypt in ships via the Reed Sea by the same route that you crossed (when yo left Egypt) and initially you will be sold there for a high price as expert artisans, but afterwards (you will be sold) for a low price like slaves and maidservants, till it reaches a point that they will make you work free of charge and (even then) nobody will want your services' (28:68).


' G-d did not give you a heart to forget, but to understand; eyes to drop hints, but to see; ears to stop up, but to listen - yet you forgot the Torah with your hearts, dropped hints with your eyes and stopped up your ears, until this day!' (29:3).


'Bread made of corn you did not eat, and wine and beer you did not drink, only Torah was constantly available in your Batei Medrash, in order that you shall study it ' (29:5).



'And it shall be when you come to the land " (26:1).

The last Pasuk in the previous Parshah contained the words "erase the memory of Amalek". The moment Yisrael entered Eretz Yisrael, the Ba'al ha'Turim comments, the obligation to erase Amalek takes effect. This explains, he points out, why Amalek tried to postpone this from happening by informing Par'oh that 'the people had fled', in the hope that they would recapture them.

Similarly, it was Amalek who informed Lavan that Ya'akov had fled with his family. And that explains why a few Pesukim later, the Torah adds the phrase "My father served (Lavan) the Aramite".


"And you shall be happy with all the good " (26:11).

The next Pasuk states "When you finish giving all your Ma'asros ". This hints, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, at the well-known D'rashah of Chazal 'Aser bi'shvil she'tisaser' - Give Ma'aser so that you will become wealthy (and as the Mishnah says in Pirkei Avos 'Ma'asros are a 'means' to attain riches').

This D'rashah is particularly apt considering that the word 'Osher' means both wealth and happiness. As is well-known, the two are not always compatible. Presumably however, when the wealth comes as a result of giving Ma'asros, it comes in the form of a blessing and is bound to result in happiness.


"This day Hashem your G-d commands you to perform these statutes and judgements with all your heart and with all your soul" (26:16).

The phrase "with all your heart and with all your soul", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is a clear reference to the Mitzvah of reciting the Sh'ma. Hence the Pasuk continues "Es Hashem he'emarto ha'yom", on which, Chazal explain, G-d commented 'You carve Me out (declared Me Unique), when you declare "Sh'ma Yisrael Hashem Echad"..

* * *

(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Please bear in mind that the rulings in this article reflect the opinion of the Seifer ha'Chinuch and are not necessarily Halachah.

Mitzvah 537:
To Bury Someone Who has been Hanged (as well as Every Other Corpse) on the Same Day

It is a Mitzvah to bury someone who was hanged on the same day, as the Torah writes in Ki Seitzei (21:23) " for you shall surely bury him on that day" - a Mitzvas Asei.

A reason for the Mitzvah Chazal explain in Sanhedrin (Perek 'Vav', Mishnah 'Daled'), based on the continuation of the Pasuk "for it is the accursed one of Hashem that is hanging" - that people should not discuss the fact that he is hanging because he cursed Hashem. This is because talking about it constitutes a Chilul Hashem (a desecration of G-d's Holy Name), thereby causing themselves much harm. And since G-d wants only what is good for His creatures, He prevented them from doing this.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah Chazal have said that this Mitzvah is not confined to someone who has been hanged only; it extends also to all those who have been put to death at the hand of Beis-Din; they too, must be buried on the same day. Moreover, every Jew who dies must be buried on the same day. And this is why they refer to a corpse that has nobody to bury it as a 'Meis Mitzvah', since there is a Mitzvah incumbent upon every Jew to bury it immediately, based on the above Pasuk The next Mishnah in Sanhedrin explains that the Beis-Din ha'Gadol are obligated to designate two cemeteries, one for those who have been stoned or burned (more stringent forms of death), the other, for those who have been killed by the sword or by strangulation (less stringent forms of death) After the flesh has decomposed, they collect the bones and re-inter them in the family burial-ground All other details are discussed in the sixth chapter of Sanhedrin (and in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Dei'ah, Si'man 382).

In connection with those who are sentenced to death at the hand of Beis-Din, this Mitzvah is confined to when the death-sentence is in effect. Whereas as far as other corpses are concerned, it applies everywhere and at all times, to male and female corpses, both of which must be buried on the day that they die. Whoever contravenes this and leaves a corpse unburied overnight, not for the purpose of enhancing its honour, has negated an Asei, over and above the La'v that he transgresses (as the author explained in the previous Mitzvah).

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