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

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Vol. 10   No. 48

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Menuchah bas Boruch Zvi Mordechai
whose seventh Yohrzeit is on the 13th of Elul

Parshas Ki Seitzei

(Part 1)
(Adapted from the Seifer ha'Chinuch)

Beis-Din have an obligation to administer Malkos (lashes) to any man or woman who is bar or bas-Mitzvah, who actively transgresses any La'av (a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh) that is not rectifiable by performing an Asei. The sinner is punishable only if he transgressed immediately following a warning by two Kosher witnesses. The warning must also incorporate the punishment, and what's more the sinner must respond, to the effect that he understands what his punishment will be, and proceeds to sin in spite of it.

This Mitzvah is confined to Eretz Yisrael, to a Beis-Din of three semuchin (who received Semichah from a somuch). A Beis-Din who fail to give Malkos where it is due, have transgressed a Mitzvas Asei, because it is through fear of the consequences of breaking the law, that law and order is maintained.

However, the chain of Semichah has long been broken.


The Mitzvah is based on the fact that Yisrael are called 'G-d's children'. Like a good father, G-d chastises us when we sin, to encourage us to return to Him, and to enable the sinner to merit the World to Come when the time arrives. And that explains why Beis-Din must take great care that the culprit does not die in the course of the strokes, by assessing how many lashes he can bear before they begin. And even if they only realized after they had begun, that he cannot take the full quota, they will reduce the number of lashes as they see fit.


Beis-Din tie the culprit's hands to the post on which he is made to lean. The Shamash takes hold of his clothes at the neck and pulls them down (he is not obligated to pay should he rip them in the process), until he uncovers his heart.

Before delivering the lashes, the Shamash steps onto the stone that is placed behind the culprit. The whip, which is made predominantly of calf leather, is doubled into two and then again into four, and two straps of donkey hide run parallel to it, one on either side. This is reminiscent of the Pasuk in Yeshayah (1:3) 'The ox knows its master, and the donkey, its owner's feeding-trough; but My people do not know ... '. The whip's handle is a Tefach by a Tefach.

The culprit receives one third of the lashes in front, and two thirds, at the back. And the reader recites the Pasuk in Ki Savo (28:58) "Im lo sishmor la'asos ... ve'hiflah Hashem es makoscha ... ".


The Torah issues two warnings against administering even one stroke more than the culprit can take ("Lo yosif", "Pen yosif"). As a matter of fact, these two La'avin extend to anyone who hits a fellow Jew without justification (i.e. not in self-defense and not for educational purposes), a logical inference from the sinner about whom we are speaking.

According to the Rambam, Chazal reduced the Malkus from forty to thirty-nine, on account of 'Lo yosif', though this does not conform with the text of our Gemara.

In fact, Chazal took this even further, and said that whoever even raises a hand against a fellow-Jew is called a Rasha. And they base this on Moshe Rabeinu, who referred to the Jew who was about to strike his friend as 'Rasha' (see Sh'mos 2:13).

The Torah clearly considers it wrong to strike a fellow Jew, unless he has sinned and needs to be chastised by the Beis-Din.


As we already explained, the culprit would only receive as many lashes as he was able to bear. Once the doctor had examined him, Beis-Din would fix the number of Malkos according to that assessment, provided it was a number that was divisible by three. If not, they would go down to the nearest multiple of three. If for example, the doctor assessed him for twenty lashes, they would give him eighteen.

If after the lashes had begun, the culprit sullies himself, the Malkos cease immediately and he is sent home. This is because the word "niklah" used by the Torah as Malkos, also means 'put to shame'. And the same applies to where the strap broke in the process of the Malkos or if after he was tied to the post, the terrified man breaks loose and flees.

Chazal learn from the Pasuk "ve'nikloh ochicho le'einecho", that the moment the sinner has received his punishment, he is reinstated to his former status, and his title changes from 'Rasha' to 'your brother'.

Amazingly, even someone who is Chayav Kareis, and who was warned before transgressing, becomes exempt from Malkos, once he has received Malkos.

Someone who strikes a fellow-Jew without justification (whether he is Sheli'ach Beis-Din under the above circumstances or someone else), is obligated to pay, in which case he is not subject to Malkos (since nobody ever receives two punishments). And it is only if the damage caused by the stroke is worth less than a P'rutah, that he is subject to Malkos.


Parshah Pearls
(adapted from the Ba'al ha'Turim)

A Mother and her Babies

"Ki yikorei kan tzipor...(When you come across a bird's nest"(22:6).

The numerical value of the words "yikorei kan", the Ba'al ha'Turim points out, is equivalent to that of 'P'rat li'mezuman' (to preclude one that is prepared), because if someone places a bird's nest in a tree, it is not subject to the Mitzvah. "efrochim o beitzim (fledgelings or eggs)" he adds, has the same numerical value as 'bi'tzerichin le'iman' (as long as they still need their mother), because once they reach the stage that they can fend for themselves, they are not subject to the Mitzvah either.

"ve'ha'arachto yomim (and you will live a long time)". This cannot refer to longevity in this world, the Gemara explains, sincea person's sojourn in this world is not that long to begin with. It must therefore refer to long life in Olom ha'Ba, where the days are truly long. It hardly comes as a surprise therefore, when the Ba'al ha'Turim informs us that the numerical value of "ve'ha'arachto yomim" is equivalent to that of 'be'Olom she'kulo oruch' (in a world which is all long).


Either You Believe Him or You Don't

"I gave my daughter to this man" (22:15). Once the father of the girl has testified that he married off his daughter, the Gemara explains, we might have thought that she is forbidden to live with anyone (in case the man to whom her father betrothed her is somebody else). And it is this Pasuk which teaches us that the father is also believed to qualify his initial statement, by testifying that this is the man to whom he betrothed her.

This is an important principle known as 'Peh she'asar hu ha'peh she'hitir'. The same mouth which is believed to forbid, is also believed to permit.

That explains, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, why the numerical value of "es biti nosati" is the equivalent of 'ha'Peh she'asar zehu ha'peh she'hitir'


How a Jewish Soldier Looks

"Ki seitzei la'milchamah ... ve'nishmarto mi'kol davar ra"(23:10).

The numerical value of "ve'nishmarto", says the Ba'al ha'Turim, is the same as "min shefichas damim". A soldier is bound to kill in wartime, yet the Torah warns against indiscriminate killing - the enemy yes, a fellow Jew, no.


It also shares the same numerical value as 'min kilelas Hashem' (not to curse G-d), to teach us that a Jew at war remains a Jew, who must retain his refined character, in spite of the stress of war. Whereas the next words "mi'kol davar ra", possess the same numerical value as 'zehu nivul peh' (this is unclean speech), an additional warning against being foul-mouthed.

How different are Jewish soldier than their gentile counterparts, who tend to turn into human animals in wartime!


The Abomination of Interest

"because both of these ('esnan zonah' and 'mechir kelev') are the abomination of Hashem" ... Do not borrow money or food on interest" (23:20).

This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that debtor who gives interest, as well as the guarantors, is no less loathsome in the eyes of Hashem than the creditor who takes it. The latter presumably, Chazal learn from the word "gam", which the Torah inserts there, and which always comes to include.



" ... ki motzo boh ervas dovor, ve'kosav loh seifer k'riysus (because he found in her a matter of adultery, then he shall write her a document of separation)" 24:1.

The first letters of "boh ervas dovor" spell 'be'eid' (with witnesses) - because circumstancial evidence, acceptable in money matters, is not acceptable in matters that concern matrimony.

"dovor, ve'kosav"- hints at the halachah that in addition to the handing over of the Get, the husband is also required to verbalize the divorce.

"ve'kosav loh seifer"- has the same numerical value as 'li'shemah', meaning that the Get (divorce document) needs to be written specifically for that particular couple.

"seifer k'riysus"- to teach us that a Get separates husband and wife, and nothing else. And it is written three times, to stress that even though a man can acquire a woman in any one of three ways (money, documentation and intimacy), the only way of divorcing her is by means of documentation.


All is Forgiven

"When a man marries a wife ... he shall be clean (without sin)" 24:5.

A hint, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that when somebody marries, all his sins are forgiven.


Don't Confuse the Issues

"Do not withhold the wages of a poor man ... "(24:14). The Torah juxtaposes this Parshah with that of someone who borrows, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, to teach us that even if Reuven owes Shimon money, Shimon is not permitted to withhold his wages as payment of the debt. First he must pay him for his work, within the time that the Torah prescribes elsewhere; then he may claim his debt. These are two issues that may not be confused.


A Convert ... an Orphan

"Do not twist the judgement of a convert (or of) an orphan - Ger Yosom" (24:17). The Pasuk omits the 'Vav'that belongs as a prefix in front of the word 'yosom'(as if the convert was also an orphan), says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This hints at the principle 'A gentile who converts is like a new-born baby' implying a. that he is free of sin, and b. that he has no family.


(Part 6)
(based on the morning Korbanos, with the commentaries of Rashi on the Chumash and of the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

The Parshah of the Ketores (cont.)
ve'Shachakta mimenu Hadeik ...

The spices must be finely ground and placed in line with the Aron in the Heichal (on the Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, or even on the floor, if for some reason, the Mizbe'ach is not there).

"Lifnei ha'Eidus be'Ohel Mo'ed ..." in line with the Aron, which is in the Mishkan, from where the Shechinah would talk to Moshe.


ba'Boker ba'Boker
be'Heitivo es ha'Neiros Yaktirenah

The Avodas ha'Ketores always coincided with the Avodah of the Menorah. The Kohen brought it at the same time as the 'Hatavas ha'Neiros' (preparing the Menorah) each morning, and at the same time as the 'Hadlakas ha'Neiros' each afternoon. In fact, the Kohen would burn a P'ras (half the daily quota of Ketores) on each occasion.

And from the double expression "ba'Boker ba'Boker", Chazal learn that the 'Hatavas ha'Neiros' (i.e. removing the remains of the old wicks, placing new ones and pouring in the oil, and according to the Rambam, kindling them too) took place in two parts, as we shall see shortly.

They also learn from there that the Ketores preceded the Tamid shel Shachar, where the Torah writes only "ba'Boker".


A B'raysa discusses the way the ingredients of the Ketores were ground and subsequently mixed. The mixture comprised three hundred and sixty-eight Manah (a Manah = 100 Dinrim); three hundred and sixty-five corresponding to the days in a (sun) year, of which a Manah was brought daily, a P'ras (half a Manah) in the morning, and a P'ras in the afternoon. And three additional Manim from which the Kohen Gadol would bring a fistful of Ketores on Yom Kipur. These three Manim were returned to the grinder on Erev Yom Kipur, and ground extra fine.

The mixture contained eleven spices - Tzori, Tziporen (which the Torah calls 'shecheiles'), chelb'nah and levonah zakah (i.e. balsam, onycha, galbanum and pure frankincense) each consisting of 70 Manah;

Mor, ketzi'ah (which the Torah calls 'Kidah'), shiboles-nerd and karkom (i.e. myrrh, cassia, spikanard and saffron) each consisting of 16 Manah;
Kosht (costus) 12 Manah;
Kilufah (cinnamon bark) 3 Manah
Kinmon (cinnamon) 9 Manah;

The Acharis Shalom observes that whereas the eleven above-mentioned ingredients are listed in Lashon ha'Kodesh, the remaining ingredients are listed in Aramaic. He presumes that Chazal did this deliberately in order to differentiate between the actual spices and the remaining ingredients that are merely 'Machshirei Ketores' (to enhance the quality of the main ingredients).

Boris karshinah (a cleaning herb from Karshinah) 9 kabin (some interpret boris and karshinah as two cleaning cleaning herbs, which between them, totaled nine kabin);

Yein kafrisin (caperbush wine [Cyprus wine, according to others]) 3 sa'ah and 3 kabin (i.e. 3 1/2 sa'ah). Should yein kafrisin be unavailable, then old white wine (perhaps, the Eitz Chayim suggests, it is called 'chamar chivaryan' because it was manufactured in a town called 'Chivran') will do.


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