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

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Vol. 8   No. 44

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Menuchah bas Borsuch Z'vi Morddechai a.h
Whos sixth yohrtzeit is on the 13th of Elul

Parshas Ki Teizei

Amon and Mo'av

The Torah prohibits an Amoni or a Mo'avi from joining the ranks of K'lal Yisrael and marrying a Jewish woman. Commenting on the Torah's expression here "Al d'var" (see Pasuk 23:5), Rashi explains that G-d was punishing Amon and Mo'av here not just for hiring Bil'am to curse the Jewish people, but for planning to make them sin.

The Torah however, gives two other reasons for the prohibitions 1. Because they did not offer them food as they travelled through the desert. 2. Because they hired Bil'am to curse them. The first of the Torah's reasons seems rather weak, comments the K'li Yakar. Is the fact that two nations failed to offer Yisrael food and drink sufficient justification to reject them totally?

Neither is it at first clear why Rashi (in the name of the Sifri) presents a different reason than those which the Torah gives?


The K'li Yakar answers one question with the other. Amon and Mo'av declined to offer Yisrael food, he explains, as part of a sinister plot. If Yisrael were hungry and thirsty from their constant travelling, they reckoned, they could easily be tempted to partake of the sacrifices and the wine they would offer them when the time arrived. And that in turn, would render them helpless against the immoral exhibition that, on the advice of Bil'am, they had prepared (in keeping with Chazal's teaching:' Idolatry leads to adultery'). Which is precisely what happened. This explains why, G-d, knowing what was on their minds, hinted at this plot in the words "al d'var asher lo Kidmu eschem ... " ('because of the secret plot that they had in mind when they failed to come forward with food and drink').

The question arises why the Torah then permits the women of Amon and Mo'av ("Amoni", ve'lo Amonis; "Mo'avi", ve'lo Mo'avis) to marry into Klal Yisroel. For when all's said and done, who caused the Jewish men to sin, the men or the women?

True, answers the K'li Yakar, it was the women who induced the men to sin. However, their participation in the plot was not self-motivated, but because they were forced to do so by their husbands and fathers. Indeed, that is why the soldiers initially killed only the men, and kept the women alive. G-d, it would seem, agreed with them as far as future generations is concerned, but not in respect of those women themselves, who should have protested and refused to go.


What the K'li Yakar ignores however, is a blatant discrepancy between our Pasuk and the Pasuk in Devarim (2:29). Here the Pasuk ascribes its rejection of Amon and Mo'av to the fact that they did not come forward with food and drink, whereas there, the Pasuk specifically quotes Moshe as saying that Mo'av (like Se'ir) provided them with food and drink.


The Seforno reconciles the two Pesukim by differentiating between 'coming forward' with food and drink and 'selling it'. Amon and Mo'av were both guilty of not coming forward to provide Yisrael with their basic needs, and this in itself demonstrated a serious flaw in their characters (as we shall soon see).

However, each had a second sin to its credit, which resulted in the Torah's rejection of both nations. Amon failed even to place food at their disposal for sale. Mo'av, on the other hand, did sell them food and drink, only they were also guilty of hiring Bil'om to curse them (this also explains the Torah's use of the plural in the first phrase, and the singular, in the second).


The more popular explanation however, is that of the Ramban (which whom many other commentaries agree). According to him, it was Amon who failed to step forward with food, and Mo'av who hired Bil'am. Each one was rejected for its individual sin.

And as for the K'li Yakar's comment, making light of the sin of not offering Yisrael food, Rabeinu Bachye takes the opposite view. Quoting the Ramban, he explains how both nations contravened the most basic of concepts, gratitude. Descendants of Lot, both nations owed their very existence to the tremendous efforts made by Avraham on their father's behalf, and both lacked the common decency to respond when the opportunity presented itself. But Amon's sin was the worse of the two. Amon's sin, he explains, was based on the absence of 'Derech Eretz' because Derech Eretz dictates that one offers food to a passing nation (especially under the circumstances that we just described), and, as Chazal have said, Derech Eretz even precedes Torah.(Or perhaps it was worse because, whereas Moav's sin was based on a desire for self-preservation, Amon's was based on baseless hatred. )

With this, he also explains why the Torah mentions Amon before Mo'av (despite the fact that Mo'av was both the oldest and the one whom Yisrael confronted first - see Meshech Chochmah).


In any event, it is hardly surprising that the Torah concludes "Never ever seek their peace or their good!"


Parshah Pearls
Ki Seitsei

(adapted from the Peninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro)
Guard Your Tongue

" ... and you shall guard yourself against all bad things" (23:10).

'Bad things is translated as "davar ra". Consequently, based on the well-known fact that whenever the Torah uses the word "davar", it alludes to speech, we can also translate the Pasuk as ' ... beware of evil speech', a clear hint against speaking Lashon ho'Ra in all its forms (even in time of war, when tensions are naturally high).


Evil Lingers On

"When a man betroths a woman" (24:1).

It was customary to ask a man who betrothed a woman in Eretz Yisrael 'Motzo' or 'Motzei' (found or find)?

The meaning of this seemingly strange question was based on one Pasuk in Mishlei (18:22) 'Motzo ishoh motzo tov' ('One who found a woman, found good'), and one in Koheles (7:26) 'u'Motzei ani mar m'imo'ves es ho'ishoh' ('And I find something more bitter than death - the woman'). Effectively, they were asking the choson which of the two it would be.


The G'ro attributes this difference to the tendency of people who have it good to speak about it only at the beginning. But as time progresses, their excitement wanes and they begin to treat their spate of good fortune as if it was a thing of the past. On the other hand, when things go bad, they never stop complaining about their 'bad luck'. It remains constantly a thing of the present.



"When a man betroths a woman and marries her, and it will be if she does not find favour in his eyes ..." (24:1).

Beis Shamai forbid a man to divorce his wife unless she is guilty of immoral conduct, whereas Beis Hillel permit him to divorce her even if she just burned his food. Rebbi Akiva goes even further in permitting him to divorce his wife simply because he found a nicer woman than her (Gittin 90a).

The Gemara there concludes like Beis Shamai with regard to the first marriage, when a man who divorces his wife is hated by Hashem, but like Beis Hillel with regard to the second marriage, when he is advised to divorce the woman whom he hates.


This distinction, says the G'ro, is hinted in the flow of the Pesukim:"When a man betroths a woman and marries her (implying her first marriage), and it will be if she does not find favour in his eyes, because he discovers in her something immoral, then he shall write her a Get. And she leaves his house, and goes and marries another man (the second marriage), and he hates her (even though she did not commit adultery), then he (too) shall write her a Get".

What we have here is a classical case of 'Both opinions are the words of the living G-d'. And this is even more apparent when we consider that Rebbi Akiva's opinion too, is based on the Pasuk regarding a captive in wartime, where the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei writes 'And it shall be, if he does not fancy her ... then he shall give her a Get'.


The Three Components of Marriage

The G'ro also explained why Chazal inserted the three expressions 'Seifer Tiruchin, ve'Igeres Shevukin, ve'Get Piturin' into the Get. These expressions represent the three components of marriage, which a divorce negates. 'Seifer Tiruchin' represents the breaking up of the intimacy of marriage; 'Igeres Shevukin', the terminations of the woman's obligations towards her husband (such as the work that she produces), and 'Get Piturin' the termination of the man's obligations towards his wife (such as sustaining her).

And these too, are hinted in the Pasuk - "And he shall write her a divorce document" (the negation of the marriage); "and he shall send her from his house" (the negation of the woman's obligations ... ); and ' ... she goes and marries another man' (the negation of the man's obligations ... , since that is when they finally terminate).


Get = 12

Tosfos at the beginning of Gittin, attributes the custom of writing twelve lines in a Get to the numerical value of Get - twelve.

Assuming then, that the number twelve is of particular significance with regard to Get, we need to understand, says the G'ro, why Chazal chose specifically this combination of letters, as opposed to 'Ches' and 'Daled', 'Zayin' and 'Hey' or 'Yud' and 'Beis' (which also add up to twelve)?

And he explains that they deliberately chose the word 'get' because there is no word anywhere, which contains a 'Gimel' and 'Tes' consecutively. It is therefore very much in keeping with the idea inherent in the Torah's description of a Get, "Seifer K'riysus" ('a scroll of partition').


The Haftarah
(adapted from the Mayanah shel Torah)
The Difference between Being Barren and not Having Children

The Gemara in B'rochos (11) asks on the opening Pasuk "Let the barren one who did not bear children sing the praises of Hashem!", whether the fact that she could not have children was reason to sing Hashem's praises?

It is not at first clear, asks ha'Rav Mahari Kohen, as to why the Gemara asks only from "who did not bear children", and not from "the barren one", which is mentioned first?


And he goes on to explain how being barren in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, for, as Chazal have said in Yevomos, Hashem made the Imohos barren, in order to prompt them and their husbands to pray to Him, and 'Hashem desires the prayers of the Tzadikim'.

The obvious condition however, is that they really are Tzadikim, one which will be revealed retroactively if and when their prayers are answered. That explains why the Gemara only asks from the second phrase, whether the fact that she could not have children was reason to sing Hashem's praises, since that is when she is proven to be truly barren, and not just a tzadekes for whose prayers Hashem is waiting.


How to Earn G-d's Kindness

The Tzavrei Sholol points out that the words "Lo Yomush" appear twice in the T'nach, once in our Haftarah "ve'chasdi me'itoch lo yomush" ('and My lovingkindness will not depart from you'), and once in Yehoshua "Lo yomush Seifer ha'Torah mi'Picho" ('the Seifer Torah shall not depart from your mouth').

That doesn't leave much room for doubt how to earn Hashem's lovingkindness, does it?



The Sanctity of the Land
and its Mitzvos

3. Eretz Yisrael became sanctified (re. the Mitzvos connected with the land) with the conquest of Yehoshua. That sanctity came to an end when Yisrael went into exile at the time of the first destruction. It became sanctified for a second time however, when Ezra returned from Bavel together with the exiles. Only this time, it was not through conquest, but rather through taking possession of the land that it became holy. Consequently, every location that the returnees took possession of became sanctified, and has retained its sanctity ever since.

Those Mitzvos connected with the land which apply today, apply even in those places which are in doubt as to whether the returnees took up residence there. In fact, since we have no way of identifying those locations for sure, we do not know where to be lenient either.


4. The Mitzvos connected with the land that apply nowadays are Chalah and Chadash (the new crops that grow between one Pesach and the next), the separation of T'rumos and Ma'asros, Kil'ayim (the mixing of vines and other crops), Orlah and Shevi'is.

The Mitzvos of Chalah and Chadash have already been explained (in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Siman 35 and 172, respectively), the remainder will be dealt with in the forthcoming chapters I.Y.H.


The Mitzvah of Separating T'rumos and Ma'asros

1. The Torah commands us not to eat any of the fruits of the land before having verbally designated the relevant gifts. Fruit (incorporating crops) that has grown in one's field, or that one buys from someone else, and Ma'asros have not been separated, are called 'Tevel', and may not be eaten.


2. Safek Tevel (where one is not certain that Ma'asros have been separated) must be treated in exactly the same way as Vaday Tevel (though there are some differences between them, as will be explained later).


3. The eating of Tevel is prohibited and is subject to malkos (thirty-nine lashes). If there are no witnesses or no warning, then provided one contravened on purpose, he is subject to the death penalty at the hand of Hashem.


4. Neither is one permitted to benefit from Tevel in a way that destroys it from the world, and this includes re-sowing it. One is not however, chayav Malkos or death for deriving benefit from it in any way other than eating.


5. Some things require Ma'asering min ha'Torah, others, only mi'de'Rabbanan, though there is little difference between the two. The five kinds of grain: wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt must be Ma'asered min ha'Torah, and the same applies to olives and grapes, irrespective of whether they are in their raw form, turned into raisins or pickled, or manufactured into wine or oil.

But all other species of fruit, vegetables and legumes (whose seeds are eaten as well as the fruit) are only mi'de'Rabbanan.

According to some, all of the above other than vegetables are actually min ha'Torah. However, the first opinion is the one universally accepted.


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