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

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Vol. 14   No. 45

This issue is sponsored l'iluy Nishmas
Menuchah bas Boruch Zvi Mordechai a"h,
On her twelfth Yohrzeit (13th Elul)

Parshas Ki Seitzei

The Rejection of Amon & Mo'av

In Parshas Pinchas, we discussed why, to avenge the death of the twenty-four thousand men who died following the sin of Ba'al Pe'or, G-d commanded Yisrael to attack Midyan and not Mo'av. The Pasuk there refers to punishing Midyan for the physical havoc that they wrought. It was an act of revenge on the part of Yisrael. No mention is made there of G-d rejecting Midyan. Perhaps that is because they sinned physically, they were punished physically; or maybe it was because, as some commentaries maintain, that particular Midyan was wiped out, and there was nobody left to reject. (Refer also to the article there).

Amon and Mo'av were different. G-d may well have forbidden us to attack them, to ensure that no harm should befall the ancestors of Rus ha'Mo'aviyah and Na'amah ha'Amonis, as we explained there. However, that did not absolve them from guilt with regard to the evil deeds that they perpetrated, for which they remained punishable, as we shall now explain. Amon and Mo'av's sin, the Torah explains, was that a. they declined to come forward and offer Yisrael food and drink, as one would have expected them to do under similar circumstances, and b. because they hired Bil'am to curse Yisrael. The commentaries all query this Pasuk from a Pasuk in Devarim (2:28-29), where the Torah specifically writes that the Mo'avim as well as the sons of Eisav, sold them food.


The Ramban refutes the suggestion that the two nations did indeed sell Yisrael food, and that their punishment was for not providing it free of charge, because a. providing them with food for sale was not to be sneezed at, and it is not for failing to provide it free of charge that they deserved to be punished so severely; and b. if it was, the question arises as to why the B'nei Eisav, who did not offer them free food either, were not punished in the same way.

The Seforno and the Rosh therefore explain that neither nation offered them food free, as brothers would have been expected to do. The Mo'avim however, at least sold them provisions, as we explained (but the Amonim did not). The Mo'avim, on the other hand, hired Bil'am to curse Yisrael, an act in which the Amonim (and certainly the Edomim) played no part. That is why both nations were rejected from marrying into K'lal Yisrael, as Rashi explains.


The commentaries add that G-d was particularly hard on Amon and Mo'av, because they both owed their existence to Avraham Avinu, who not only rescued their father (Lot) and mother from the clutches of the four kings, but on whose merit Lot was also saved from S'dom. And it was the lack of gratitude on their part that irked Him more than anything else. Hakaras ha'Tov after all, is one of the most fundamental Midos, and someone who displays such a blatant lack of it is not worthy of marrying into K'lal Yisrael.


The K'li Yakar elaborates on Rashi, who, commenting on the Torah's expression "al-D'var" (because of the word, with reference to the planning that went into the sin), explains that at least one of the sins referred to by the Torah is that of the sin of Ba'al Pe'or, for which Mo'av were responsible (see also Sifsei Chachamim). In that case, he asks, it seems strange as to why the Torah precludes the women from the punishment, and permits them to marry into K'lal Yisrael! Surely, they should have been the first to be punished, since they were the ones who were directly involved in that terrible fiasco?

And he replies that it was the men who planned the entire episode, and it was they who forced their daughters to do what they did. Indeed, he said, that explains why when the soldiers fought against Midyan, they kept the women alive. They erred in the very point that we made, in that they believed the women to be innocent (though if, as he maintains, the women were not to blame, it is not clear why the Midyani women were penalized any more than Amoni and Mo'avi women).


In addition to what the Ramban said earlier, he also refutes the I'bn Ezra's interpretation, that the Pasuk in Devarim means, (not that the Mo'avim, like the sons of Eisav, sold them food, but) that they allowed them to pass through their land, and explains the Pasuk like the Seforno and the Rosh. And he adds that Amon was the greater sinner of the two, in that the moment Mo'av (and Edom) heard that Yisrael were forbidden to attack them, they offered them food and drink, whereas Amon refused to do even that. And that, he says, explains why the Torah puts Amon before Mo'av.


Not infrequently, the Ramban explains a Pasuk, whilst turning a blind eye to Chazal. In this case too, after concurring with the explanation of the Seforno and the Rosh (who both lived many years after him), refers to the Gemara in Yevamos (76b), which extrapolates from the Pasuk "Amoni u'Mo'avi", but not Amonis or Mo'avis, because one cannot expect women, whose place is in the home, to go out to the Jewish Camp and offer them food. And the Yerushalmi completes the picture by pointing out that it is also the way of men to hire foreigners, and not women.

This clearly indicates that both Amon and Mo'av, were punished jointly, for the two sins. He does not however, offer any suggestion as to how the Gemara will explain the Pasuk in Devarim, the Pasuk on which the question that we have been trying to answer is based.

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Parshah Pearls
Cheishek & Cheifetz

"Ve'choshakto boh, ve'lokachto l'cho le'ishoh ... Ve'hoyoh im lo chofatzto boh ... " (21:11 & 14).

The P'ninei Torah, citing the Dubner Magid, comments on the Torah's switch from "choshakto" to "chofatzto", both of which are expressions of desire.


To explain the change, he interprets 'cheishek' as a spiritual desire, and 'cheifetz' as a physical one, and he elaborates on this.

It seems to me however, that although both mean to desire, 'cheishek' denotes stronger emotions than 'cheifetz'. In fact, I would translate the former as 'lust', and the latter, as 'want'. What the Torah is saying is that although initially, the soldier was initially filled with lust for the Y'fas to'ar, once he was intimate with her, he was no longer interested in her (he did not even want her).

Indeed, this is human nature, and what's more, we have a precedence for it in the story of Amnon, who initially had a strong desire for Tamar, but who, once he had given vent to his initial emotions,"hated her even more than he had originally loved her", as the Pasuk in Melachim 2 (13:15) explains.


One in a Thousand and Twenty-Four

"A Mamzer shall not come into the congregation of Hashem, even the tenth generation " (23:3).

Resh Lakish, in the Gemara in Yevamos (78b), permits a Mamzeres after ten generations. It appears, says the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ro, that some of the strength of the father remains up to the tenth generation.

And citing the G'ro, he gives the reason for this as follows. Seeing as a child is formed by his father and mother, he receives half his strength from his father, in which case the grandson remains with a quarter, the third generation with an eighth, and the fourth, with a sixteenth. The fifth generation ... a thirty-second, the sixth a sixty-fourth, the seventh a hundred and twenty-eighth, the eighth ... a two hundred and fifty-sixth, the ninth ... a six hundred and twelfth and the tenth generation ... a one thousand and twenty-fourth, surpassing the nine hundred and sixtieth, in which a creature becomes bateil (nullified), as we learn in the Yerushalmi.


The footnote, citing the Nefesh Chayah on Yorei De'ah (53), extends the same logic to all the places where Chazal mention ten generations; for example - 'the Gemara in Sanhedrin (94a), which forbids making derogatory statements about gentiles in the presence of a convert up to ten generations.


Grumbling Never Ceases

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

We have learned in the Gemara in B'rachos (8a) that, in Eretz Yisrael, when a man married a woman, they would say to him 'matza' or 'motzei', with reference to the Pasuk in Mishlei (18:22) "Matza ishah, matza tov" (Someone who found a wife found goodness) and the Pasuk in Koheles (7:26) "u'Motzi ani mar mi'ma'ves es ha'ishah" (And I find something that is more bitter than death - a woman), respectively.

The question arises why the Pasuk in Mishlei speaks in the past, whereas the Pasuk in Koheles speaks in the present?

The P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro explains this based on human nature. When a person has it good, he tends to appreciate it and talk about it only right in the early stages. Once the initial excitement has worn off, he takes it for granted. When, on the other hand, tragedy strikes, he continues to complain long after the event.

How right the Pasuk therefore is in referring to a good thing as one of the past, and something bad, as one of the present.


Beware, Soldier!

"When you join the camp against your enemies, guard yourself against anything evil" (23:10).

Rashi attributes the Torah's warning specifically here, to the fact that 'the Satan tends to prosecute in time of danger'.


Based no doubt on Chazal, who generally take the word "Davar" (which the Torah uses here) literally, to mean speech, the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'G'ra interprets this Pasuk as a warning against forbidden speech.

The footnote, quoting R. Chayim Kanievski, refers to the Gemara in Kesubos, which in turn, cites this Pasuk as the source for the prohibition of speaking Motzi-Shem-Ra (Lashon-ha'Ra which is untrue).

Targum Yonasan, on the other hand, explains the Pasuk as a warning against transgressing the three cardinal sins idol-worship, immoral behaviour and murder; whereas the Ba'al ha'Turim points out that the word "ve'nishmarto" (guard yourself) has the same numerical value as 'min shefichas domim' (murder), 'min kilelas Hashem' (cursing Hashem) and 'Ein lehistakel be'ishah k'lal' (one may not look at a woman at all); whereas 'Davar ra' pertains to unclean speech, all sins that are common enough among soldiers in wartime.


The Ramban, after citing our opening comment from Rashi, writes the following": It seems to me however, that the Torah inserts this Mitzvah here, because during wartime, sin becomes more prevalent. It is well-known that when armies go out to war, the troops eat every abomination, they steal and rob shamelessly, and indulge in immoral acts and every conceivable abomination. The most upright man turns into a cruel and heartless soldier.

However, he says, according to the simple explanation, the Torah is warning against perpetrating anything that is forbidden. And he concludes by quoting the Sifri, which explains the Pasuk like the Targum Yonasan that we cited earlier.


Measure for Measure

"You shall have perfect and honest weights and perfect and honest measures, in order that you will live long " (25:15).

Chazal have taught us that G-d does not punish a person until his measure (of sins) is full.

That may well be the case under normal circumstances, the Yalkut ha'Gershuni explains. But not with regard to someone whose weights and measures are inaccurate. G-d will give him the same treatment as he gave others (measure for measure), and he will be taken away before his measure is full. Therefore the Torah warns us to have perfect and honest weights measures, so that we should live out our full life-span.


Rejecting an Amaleki Ger

" erase the memory of Amalek from under the heaven; Don't forget! (25:19)"

One does not accept a Ger (a convert) who comes from Amalek, says the Rosh, citing the Medrash Tanchuma. From any other nation, yes; from Amalek, no!

And that explains the Pasuk in Shmuel (13), he says, where David Hamelech killed the lad who informed him of Shaul Hamelech's death, after he told him that he was the son of an Amaleki ger. In fact, Chazal say, he was the son of Do'eg ha'Edomi, and when David retorted that his statement was his death warrant, it seems, he was referring to the fact that he had admitted that he was an Amaleki, no less than the fact that he claimed to have killed Shaul (at the King's own behest) that sparked off David Hamelech's reaction.

And when David said "Damecho be'roshecho" (your blood is on your head), with an extra 'Yud' (denoting plural), he was reminding him that he had much bloodshed on his hands, since his father had killed Nov, the city of Kohanim. Though it is unclear why Do'eg's son should suffer for his father's sin.

Perhaps it was a combination of his father's action and the fact that he was an Amaleki' or more likely still, it was the bloodthirsty trait that he had inherited from his father (and his grandfather Amalek) that had caused him to kill the King of Yisrael. In any event, it was a combination of the above that caused David to kill him.

* * *


"And you shall change the clothes of her captivity, Tovel her and convert her in your house, and she shall weep for the idolatry of her father and mother's house. She shall then wait for three months to ensure that she is not pregnant, and after that, you may be intimate with her and she shall become your wife" (21:13).


"And it shall be if you do not want her, then you shall send her away by means of a Get; you may not sell her for money or as merchandise, seeing as you made use of her" (21:14).


"And they shall say to the sages of the city 'We transgressed the word of Hashem; that is why there was born to us this disobedient and rebellious son, who does not pay attention to our instructions; he is a glutton for meat, and drinks wine' " (21:20).


"And it will be if he is afraid and accepts instructions, he will be allowed to live, but if he continues to rebel, then all the residents of the city shall stone him to death, and you shall remove the evil-doer from your midst " (21:21).


"Do not leave his corpse (hanging) on the tree; rather you shall surely bury him on that day; for it is a degradation before G-d to hang a human body, only his sins caused it to happen to him. And because man was created in the image of Hashem, you shall bury him by sunset, so that the animals shall not abuse him and so that the corpses of the sinners shall not render impure the land that Hashem your G-d is giving you" (21:23).


(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 597:
The Prohibition on a Yevamah to Marry Someone Else, until she has Performed Chalitzah

It is prohibited for any man to be intimate with a Yevamah as long as there is a Zikas Yibum (i.e. she is still attached to the Yavam). And it is in this connection that the Torah writes in Ki-Seitzei (25:5) "the wife of the deceased shall not marry a strange man (i.e. anybody other than the Yavam) ".

A reason for the Mitzvah of Yibum the author will present in the following Mitzvah (that of Yibum), where he will also discuss some of the Mitzvos that relate to it, and other issues connected to it.

Someone who contravenes this Mitzvah and is intimate with a Yevamah whilst there is still a Zikas Yibum on her, receives Malkos. The principle Isur applies to men, though the Yevamah herself is included in the prohibition. She too, is forbidden to get married to any man until she is released from the Yavam (by means of Chalitzah), and it may well be that if she does, she too will receive Malkos.


Mitzvah 598:
The Mitzvah of Yibum

It is a Mitzvah incumbent upon someone whose brother dies leaving no children, to take his deceased brother's wife as a wife. This is what the Torah and Chazal call 'Yibum', and it is with regard to this Mitzvah that the Torah writes in Ki-Seitzei (25:5) " her Yavam shall be intimate with her ".

A reason for the Mitzvah is that when a woman gets married she becomes like one of her husband's limbs, a natural phenomenon, the result of Adam ha'Rishon, from whom G-d took a rib to form a woman, who then became his wife. Now this man died without children to serve as part of himself that remains in this world to perpetuate him and to replace him in the world in the service of His Creator, and the only physical part of himself that he leaves in this world to perpetuate his name is his wife, who is 'a bone from his bones and flesh from his flesh'. Therefore Hashem in His kindness enabled him to establish offspring from her via his brother, who is also like half his own flesh, in order for that offspring to take his place and to serve His Creator instead of him. Moreover, he will give him credit in the World of Neshamos, where he currently resides, as Chazal have said in Sanhedrin (104a) 'A son can create merit for his father (but not a father for a son)'. And likewise, the live brother will receive a share in the sons that he subsequently bears from the Yevamah, and share in the credit of their good deeds. Only (unlike a regular father), he will not receive the entire credit, seeing as his deceased brother is entitled to a major portion of the credit that he earns via his wife, to whom he was married before his brother, as we explained. And that is why the Torah writes in Vayeishev (38:9) "And Onan knew that the offspring would not belong to him" (i.e. he knew that he would not earn the entire credit from the good deeds of his son, since his brother (Er) was entitled to a share in them, and he was not interested in sharing his children with his brother, particularly as the major share would go to his brother, as we explained. In fact, the author compares the deceased brother to the owner of the field, and the Yavam to a share-cropper, who would often provide the seeds out of his own pocket, as is the case with the Yavam.

The Gemara in Yevamos (13b) teaches that in the event that the deceased brother leaves behind offspring to perpetuate his memory, be it a son or a daughter, or even a grandchild, even if he is from a different wife, and even if he is a Mamzer or a Mamzeres, the wife is exempt from Yibum. This supports the above theory, that the function of Yibum is to ensure that the name of the deceased should be perpetuated one way or the other, by leaving over part of himself in this world. (cont.)

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