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

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Vol. 6 No. 44

Parshas Ki Seitzei

Give Me Your Heart, Give Me Your Eyes
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)


"Give Me your heart, my son, and let your eyes guard My ways" (Mishlei 230:26).

Shlomoh ha'Melech warns us here to dedicate our hearts to the service of Hashem, and to distance ourselves from the desires of this world after which the heart and the eyes are drawn. That is why he said "My son, give your heart to Me" - 'to Me, and not to the desires of this world'. Because a Jew is duty-bound to direct all his desires towards the service of G-d, to utilise them in the fulfillment of His will, and in fearing and loving Him, not to use them at all towards the realization of his personal pleasures, except for the absolute minimum that is needed to study Torah diligently and fulfill the Mitzvos carefully.

And this is what Dovid ha'Melech meant when he said in Tehilim "All my desires Hashem, are directed towards You". He was boasting that all the worldly pleasures of which he partook, he did solely for the sake of Hashem, in order to execute His will.


It is well-known that all the limbs of the body are drawn after the heart and the eyes, particularly the heart, for, as long as the heart is complete with G-d, the whole person is complete, whereas to the extent that the heart is lacking, the whole person is lacking. For so Chazal have said (Sanhedrin 106b) 'G-d wants the heart'. And furthermore, the Medrash has said 'If you give Me your heart and your eyes I will know that you are Mine, if you do not, then you are not!'

This is because the heart and the eyes (in their capacity as the spies of sin) are the vital roots that bring a person close to G-d or take him far away from Him. Indeed Chazal, commenting on the posuk "and do not stray after your hearts and after your eyes after which you go astray", explain that whoever goes after his heart and eyes is called a prostitute, for he subsequently sins and allows himself to be seduced by his Yeitzer ho'ra - like a man who has relations with a harlot. That explains why the Torah uses the expression 'zonim' (goes astray), which also has connotations of prostitution.


Shlomoh too, after writing "Give Me your heart, My son, and let your eyes guard My ways", continues "Because a prostitute is a deep pit and a strange woman a narrow well", to tell us that someone who approaches her house will not avoid stumbling, in the same way as someone who begins falling into a pit cannot escape being hurt. And so too, someone who goes astray after his heart and his eyes will not be able to avoid stumbling and sinning.

"And a strange woman, a narrow well." If she is not a regular prostitute, but a stranger, he thinks about her constantly, then she is compared to the water of a well which is self- generating; whenever one draws from it, more water replaces it. So it is with a woman: one begins by only speaking to her, but then goes on to look at her, and then to think about her, and then to touch her - until he falls into the deep abyss of sin.

So Shlomoh placed these two pesukim where he did, to warn us to dedicate our hearts and our eyes to the service of Hashem, and not to the fulfillment of our own desires. Because physical desire drives a person out of this world and out of the next, and it does not pay to pursue it, unless two conditions are fulfilled: 1) It is permitted by the Torah; 2) It is necessary for one's survival or for one's spiritual growth (as we explained earlier).


And so we find the Torah itself strongly condemning prostitution, the sin for which the Cana'anim were thrown out of Eretz Yisroel. In fact, so detestible did the Torah find this sin, that it even issues the soldiers with a stern warning to maintain the sanctity of the camp in time of war. It does so to ensure that they are not guilty of the immoral behaviour and of the atrocities practised by other armies, and particularly by the Cana'ani soldiers. That is why the Torah did not permit a Jewish soldier to live with a beautiful woman captured in battle until he has gone through the entire procedure prescribed in the opening paragraph of this Parshah.


Parshah Pearls

Ki Seitzei

First Marriage, Second Marriage

In the final Mishnah in Gittin (90a), Beis Shamai forbids a man to divorce his wife, unless she has committed adultery; whereas Beis Hillel permits him to do so even if she did nothing more than burn the food.

The Gemoro concludes that there is a difference between the first marriage and the second: when a man divorces his first wife, says Rebbi Elozor, even the Mizbei'ach sheds tears. The Torah finds this despicable, and a person should do so only if his wife has been unfaithful, as Beis Shamai says. This is not the case when he divorces his second wife, whom he is permitted to divorce even for just burning the food, like Beis Hillel says.


All this, explains the Gro, is clearly hinted in the Torah in Ki Seitzei (24:1-3), which writes: "When a man betrothes a woman, if she does not find favour in his eyes, because he discovers that she has committed adultery, then he writes her a document of divorce ... And she leaves his house and goes and marries another man. And the other man hates her (for whatever reason), then he shall write her a document of divorce".


The Three Disconnections

The posuk here also uses three expressions: 1) "And he shall write her a document of divorce"; 2) "And he shall send her out of his house"; 3) "And she goes and is married to another man".

These, explains the Gro, correspond to the three issues that comprise a marriage: the intimate relationship between husband and wife, the man's monetary obligations towards his wife (with regard to food and clothes) and the woman's monetary obligations towards her husband (as we have learned in the Mishnah in Kesubos 'the work of her hands belongs to her husband').

And it is corresponding to these three things that Chazal inserted in the wording of the get the three expressions (all meaning divorce) 'seifer tiruchin', 've'igeres shevukin', 've'get piturin', respectively.


If Miriam had to pay ...

"Remember what G-d did to Miriam on the way, after you had left Egypt" (24:10). The Chofetz Chayim breaks down this posuk, explaining it phrase by phrase:

"Remember", writes the Torah. If you have dealings with people, and you are likely to forget and say things about others, then there is a mitzvah, to remember what happened to Miriam because of what she said (in the same way as Chazal explained in Beitzah 15b - "Remember the Shabbos day" - 'since you are likely to foget it' - see Rashi there d.h. 'Zochreihu').

"What Hashem your G-d did ... " - referring to the punishment of tzora'as; that the metzora has to live alone outside the three camps, that sometimes he becomes 'muchlat', to remain there until he is cured. One should remember that, so despicable is the ba'al loshon ho'ra, that even other tomei people are forbidden not live with him, that his clothes are torn, that he may not cut his hair and that he must cover his face, like a mourner (used to do). These and other things, he should contemplate carefully before speaking loshon ho'ra.

"Hashem your G-d did to Miriam" - It all depends on the one who is shaming and the one who is being put to shame (Chazal say in a different regard). Miriam was a unique woman, evident from the fact that the whole of Yisroel were provided with water due to her merit. In addition, she endangered herself - many years earlier - in order to protect the very brother about whom she had just spoken. And what's more, she certainly meant him no harm with her words. Yet all this did not help her, and she was stricken with tzora'as. Imagine how much more vulnerable a person of lesser standing will be when he speaks loshon ho'ra!


About The Mitzvos

Past, Present, Future

We discussed last time, the futility of contending with the future when it comes to the performing of mitzvos, because in fact, our entire future depends upon our present actions. As a matter of fact, someone who sins now causes himself so much harm, that it may well turn out to be irreversible.


Looking at it from another angle, since when would anyone in his right mind burn himself now in order to avoid burning himself tomorrow? But of course, one has first to be convinced that sinning is no less harmful that burning oneself. And of course, the same argument will hold true about the utter senselessness of not performing a mitzvah now on the grounds that he will perform one later - when everyone knows that a bird in the hand is worth even two in the bush, let alone, one.


And yet another counter-argument against the Yeitzer ho'ra, when he attempts to induce us to sin now, and to do mitzvos later, lies in the Gemoro in Kidushin (40 a/b). Chazal tell us there that a person should always see himself as if his scales of mitzvos and aveiros were evenly balanced, and that only one mitzvah is needed to tip them one way, and one aveirah, the other. And more than that, the Gemoro continues, he should even consider his entire town - and even the whole world - as if their merits and sins too, were equal, and that one mitzvah or one aveirah now will decide their fate.

Who in his right mind, would wish to be called a rosho today, so that he might perhaps be called a tzadik tomorrow? And who would dare take the responsibility of causing his entire town or even the whole world to be worthy of destruction now - whatever may be gained tomorrow?


(The Mitzvos Lo Sa'aseh)

Adapted from the Seifer ha'Mitzvos ha'Kotzer of the Chofetz Chayim.

18. Not to derive any benefit from idolatry, from its sacrifices or from whatever serves it or what is made on its behalf - as it is written in Eikev (13:18) "And do not bring an abomination into your house", and it is also written in Re'ei "And nothing from the ban (avodah-zoroh) shall cleave to you" (13:18).

Someone who benefits from any of these, transgresses two la'avin. One may derive benefit from an avodah-zoroh that is not man-made (such as a mountain, a tree that was initially planted for its fruit [and not for purposes of idolatry], or an animal to which nothing was done for the purpose of idolatry), but what is on them (e.g. ornaments) is forbidden.

This mitzvah applies everywhere, and at all times, to men and women alike.


19. Not to intermarry - as the Torah writes in Vo'eschanan (7:3) "Do not intermarry with them".

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women alike.


20. Not to have pity on idolaters - as it is written in Vo'eschanan (7:3) "And do not favour them".

Someone who sees an idolater drowning in the river, should not save him, nor should he cure him when he is ill. If however, he is afraid of him, or in order to avoid enmity, he should cure him for a fee, but not free of charge. One is not however, permitted to kill him directly or to throw him into a pit to die, unless it is in self-defence.

One may not give him a gift (unless it is in return for a gift that he gave first), nor may one relate his praises, and certainly not his good deeds.

This mitzvah applies everywhere, and at all times, to men and women alike.


21. Not to go in the ways of the gentiles - as it is written in Acharei Mos (18:3) "And do not go in their ways".

It is forbidden to dress in their fashion, or to cut one's hair in the manner that is peculiar to them; to shave off the sides and leave the hair in the middle of the head (known as 'b'luris'), or to shave off all the hair of the front of the head and to leave that at the back.

Someone who does any of these, is due to receive Malkos.

Someone who is associated with royalty and who needs to dress like them in order to mix with them, is permitted to do so.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women alike.


22. Not to listen to someone who prophesies in the name of a god - as it is written in Re'ei (13:4) "Do not listen to the words of that prophet".

One should not engage in lengthy discussions with him, nor should one ask him to perform signs or wonders. Should he do so of his own volition, one should ignore them. Anyone who takes his miracles seriously, on the assumption that they might be true, has transgressed this la'av.

This mitzvah applies everywhere and at all times, to men and women alike.


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