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

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Vol. 16   No. 45

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

Parshas Ki Seitzei

Forty Lashes

When presenting the number of lashes that a person who is sentenced to Malkos receives, the Torah uses the expression " k'dei rish'oso be'mispar. Arbo'im yakenu" (according to his evil, in number. Forty shall he strike him " [25:2\3]).

As Rashi already observes, this translation is not entirely correct, since the Torah writes not 'ba'mispar', but "be'mispar", which connects the word to "Arbo'im" in the following Pasuk.

Consequently, we must read it as "be'mispar arbo'im', which means "the number leading up to forty (i.e. thirty-nine) you shall strike him".

And the reason that Chazal always refer to 'forty lashes' (rather than to 'forty minus one' as they do in connection with the thirty-nine Melachos of Shabbos), says R. Bachye, is because they take their cue from the Torah, which refers to it as forty.

And the popular reason for the Torah writing "forty" is based on the understanding that the sinner really deserves forty lashes (corresponding to the forty days in which a baby is formed), and it is due to G-d's great mercy that He deducts one from the total. And this idea is actually hinted in the Pasuk in Tehilim (78:39 [that we recite every night, and]) that was read out three times as the thirty-nine lashes were being delivered - "And He is merciful, He will atone for sin, and He will not destroy (by killing the sinner who deserves to die for blatantly contravening the word of G-d), and He frequently withdraws His anger and does not pour out all his wrath"). Although the author does cite this concept, it seems appropriate to insert it.


Why thirty-nine Malkos, asks R. Bachye?

And he proceeds to offer two reasons for this. Firstly, he explains that a deliberate sinner really deserves Kareis for having rebelled against His Creator (as we just explained), in which case his Soul requires revival. And it is the thirty-nine lashes that constitute the 'Tal shel Techiyah' (the dew with which G-d will ultimately revive the dead). Note that the word 'Tal' when written backwards spells 'Lat' (cursed), whereas the way it is written it means 'dew'. In other wards, the thirty-nine lashes of Malkos atone for the culprit's sin and grant his Soul a further lease of life, just like the Dew of Techiyas ha'Meisim will do in time to come. This concept, Rabeinu Bachye explains, is hinted in the Gemara in Megilah (7b) which states that 'All Chayvei K'riysus who receive Malkos, are exempt from Kareis'.

And secondly, he points out, Beis-Din shel Matah punish from the age of thirteen, and three times thirteen (I am not sure whether he is referring to the triple-headed sin of thought, speech and deed, or the three parts of man 'Nefesh, Ru'ach and Neshamah, all of which require a Kaparah when man sins) equals thirty-nine.

And it is by the same token he adds, that angels receive sixty lashes when they err - because Beis-Din shel Ma'alah only punish from the age of twenty, and twenty times three equals sixty (though we will now have to find some other reason for the number three to which he refers). Hence the Gemara describes in Bava Metzi'a (85b) how Eliyahu ha'Navi received sixty lashes with 'flashes of fire' for divulging to Rebbi Yehudah ha'Nasi how to bring the Mashi'ach before his time.

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Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

Remember Miriam

"Remember that what Hashem your G-d did to Miriam" (24:9).

Although everybody knows what R. Bachye (citing the Ramban) says about this Pasuk, the ever-relevant message is so vital that it is worthwhile repeating verbatim

This is a Mitzvas Asei regarding Lashon ha'Ra'. What it means is that we must recall the Lashon-ha'Ra that Miriam spoke and the punishment that she received for speaking about Moshe, and being stricken with Tzara'as.

In fact this explains as to why this Pasuk follows that of "Beware of the plague of Tzara'as ". That being the case, this is a warning against speaking Lashon Ha'ra - a La'av that is based on an Asei (which is in effect, is considered an Asei).

And we can learn from here with a 'Kal-ve'Chomer' (a logical inference) the terrible punishment that is in store for those who speak Lashon-ha'Ra. For if the righteous Miriam, the prophetess, who spoke only about her own younger brother - a brother whom she helped bring up and for whom she was moser nefesh (risked her life) when he was hidden among the bull-rushes of the River Nile. And although she spoke not in his presence, she earned such a severe punishment, and none of her many merits stood her in good stead; and what's more, what she said about him was not inherently evil - all she did was to put him on a par with other prophets. Imagine what sort of punishment is due to those who speak real Lashon ha'Ra about people who are greater than themselves, and in their presence, adding embarrassment to the intrinsic sin of Lashon ha'Ra; and the sin is exacerbated many times over if the person about whom one is speaking is a Talmid-Chacham or a Torah sage!


The Borrower and the Guarantor

"Do not enter his house to take a security. You shall wait outside, and the man whom you lent shall bring you the security outside" (24:10/11).

The Gemara in Bava Metzi'a (115a) establishes this ruling with regard to the Shali'ach Beis-Din (the bailiff), since it is he who has the authority to demand a security (once the time of payment has elapsed and the debtor has failed to pay) not the creditor.

Rabeinu Bachye attributes the ruling both to the Midah of mercy and compassion, and to the fear that if the bailiff were to enter the debtor's house and to demand a security of his own choosing, it could lead to blows and even to murder.

He adds however, that the above prohibition applies exclusively to the debtor. When it comes to the Areiv (the guarantor), the bailiff is permitted to enter his house and to choose a security (as Sh'lomoh Hamelech writes in Mishlei (27:13). Logic would dictate otherwise, since it is the debtor who derived benefit from the loan, not the guarantor. And the reason for this seemingly strange ruling, the author therefore explains, is due to the fact that whereas the borrower entered into the contract out of poverty, the guarantor did so with a healthy bank account.


Olives for the Poor

"When you beat your olives (to remove them from the tree), do not examine the smaller branches (to divest them of their fruit); they shall be (left) for the convert, the orphan and the widow" (24:20).

This is how R. Bachye, following in the footsteps of the I'bn Ezra, initially translates the Pasuk.

Quoting the Medrash, he explains further that, translating the words "lo se'fa'er acharecha" as 'Do not boast' - when you are kind to the poor and leave them olives under the tree. The message, he explains, is that a person who performs Chesed should not publicise his actions, but should rather perform them discreetly. And this is how the author explains the Pasuk in Mishlei (11:13) "Rav odom yikra ish chasdo (Most people tend to announce their acts of kindness) ve'ish emunim mi yimtzo?" (but who can find a man of faith [who conceals his acts of kindness])?

Finally, R. Bachye cites Chazal, who learn from this Pasuk that one is obligated to leave Pe'ah on an olive-tree (like one leaves a corner of one's crops in the field) for the poor.

In fact, this Mitzvah applies to all fruit-trees, only the word "sefa'er" (from the root of 'Pe'er' (glory) pertains specifically to an olive-tree (see Hoshei'a 14:8). And the reason for this is because olives produce oil for light, which explains why the Torah refers to oil as "yitzhor' (in the second paragraph of the Sh'ma). And this he says, is reminiscent of the light, the glory and the splendor (Hod -see above-mentioned Pasuk in Hoshei'a), all other names for the celestial luminaries. And he concludes that 'this is why it the olive-tree is called by their names, in honour of the Menorah which incorporates them all'.


Erasing & Forgetting Amalek

"Erase Amalek from under the Heaven; Don't forget" (26:19).

This implies, says R. Bachye, that G-d will destroy Amalek in the Heaven, and we will finish the job here on earth. Indeed, he explains, that is why the Torah writes at the end of Beshalach "because I shall surely blot out every trace of Amalek"; whereas here it writes "You shall surely blot out every trace of Amalek" - First G-d will do it in His realm, then we will do out in ours'. (Interestingly, the Zohar reverses the order).


The Parshah begins with "Remember", and ends with "forget". To be sure, the Pasuk is issuing us with the dual obligation of remembering Amalek and of not forgetting him.Yet at the same time, the Torah is hinting here that there will come a time when we will forget Amalek, totally. And that is in the time of Mashi'ach, about which the Pasuk in Tehilim (9:7) writes "The enemy's ruins are gone forever, and the memory of the cities that you uprooted is lost". That is when G-d's Name will be complete and His Throne will be complete, for so the Pasuk there continues "And Hashem will sit on His throne forever, His throne will be established for judgement".

And although the gist of the Pasuk is that we should not forget Amalek, as we explained, the 'Trop' (The Leining neginos) suggests otherwise, says the author. The fact that the word "lo" (in "lo tishkach") is a 'Tipcha', which points away from "tishkach", implies that it is disconnected from it, and this is borne out by the 'Dagesh' (the dot) in the 'Tav' of "tishkach". All this gives the closing phrase connotations of 'tishkach' - 'Forget!'

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Highlights from Targum Yonasan

'Do not muzzle an ox whilst it is threshing; (By the same token) if a Yevamah falls to a leper, with whom it is unpleasant to live, do not force her to perform Yibum with him' (25:4).

'And it shall be that if the man does not wish to marry his Yevamah, then his Yevamah shall go up to the gates of Beis-Din in the presence of five sages, three of whom shall act as judges, the remaining two, as witnesses, and she shall say before them in Lashon ha'Kodesh "My Yavam refuses to raise his brother's name in Yisrael " ' (25:7).

' the sages of the city shall then call him, and give him sound advice, after which he shall stand in Beis-Din and announce in Lashon ha'Kodesh "I do not want to marry her" ' (25:8).

'And his Yevamah shall approach him in front of the sages. The Yavam shall be wearing a sandal with a sewn heel on his foot. On the mouth of the sandal there shall be straps that are tied. The Yavam shall then press his foot on the ground, whilst the Yevamah stands and unties the straps, before pulling the shoe from off his foot. Following this she shall forcefully discharge a large amount of spit (from her mouth) which must be visible to the sages ' (25:9).

'And you shall cut off her hand; Do not have pity on her' (25:12).

(See Targum Yonasan, Parshas Mishpatim 21:23-25).

'Who met you on the way, and who killed among you those who planned to stray from My commandments - those are the warriors from the tribe of Dan, who carried with them an image; The Cloud cast them out, and Amalek caught them. They cut off their foreskins and threw them into the air and You Beis Yisrael were tired and weary, from the various forms of subjugation (that you suffered) in Egypt and from the waves of the (Reed) Sea through which you passed ' (25:18).

'And it shall be, when Hashem your G-d gives you rest from all your enemies erase the memory of Amalek from under the Heaven, even in the days of King Mashi'ach, do not forget!' (25:19).

* * *

The Mitzvos

Mitzvah 423:
To Afix a Mezuzah to the Doorposts

It is a Mitzvah to affix a Mezuzah to the doorposts of one's house, as the Torah writes in Va'eschanan (6:9) "And you shall write them on the doorposts of and your house and of your gates". The idea of the mezuzah is to transcribe the two Parshiyos that contain "Mezuzah " (Sh'ma" until "u'vi'she'orecho" & "Ve'hoyoh im shomo'a" until "al ho'oretz") from the Torah on to a piece of parchment, which one then afixes to the doorpost at the entrance of one's house.

A reason for the Mitzvah is to remind a person to have faith in G-d every time he enters his house or leaves it (as the author wrote with regard to Tefilin). The Gemara quoting Shmuel, writes in Menachos (33a) 'It is a Mitzvah to place it at the beginning of the top third of the doorpost; whilst Rabah adds that it is a Mitzvah to place it on the outermost Tefach ; In this way , the Gemara explains, he comes upon a Mitzvah immediately upon entering or leaving his house.

Some of the Dinim of the Mitzvah The Mishnah in Menachos (3:7) rules that the two Parshiyos are both crucial to the Mitzvah , and even one letter that is written incorrectly (i.e. even if it is not surrounded on four sides by parchment) renders the Mezuzah Pasul The Chachamim have also said that the Mezuzah must be placed on the right-hand side of the entrance, since the Torah writes "beisecho" (your house), which the Gemara (in Menachos (32a) explains as 'bi'ascho' (as you come in) - and generally, when a person begins to walk,, he moves his right foot first The Gemara in Yuma (11a&b) teaches us that the word "and in your gates" incorporates the gates (doorways) of our houses, courtyards, provinces and cities, the gates of our stables, chicken-runs, straw-sheds, storehouses for wine and for oil. All of these require a Mezuzah. It does not however, include guards-huts, sun-porches and verandas, since the Torah writes "house" to preclude anything which does not fall under the heading of 'residence'. Neither does it include a 'bathroom', a bathhouse or a Mikvah, which are not used in a manner that can be termed 'Kavod' . Nor does it include the 'Har-ha'Bayis' (of the Beis-Hamikdash), the Leshachos (its rooms) or the Azaros (its courtyards), since these, as opposed to S'tam house which is mundane, are holy. A Shul too, is included in this latter list, unless it contains a residence, such as the Shuls that pertain to villages, in which guests tend to reside The Gemara in Yuma (11a) requires a private Mezuzah to be examined twice every seven years, and a communal one, twice every fifty years With regard to the Tagin (the crowns atop some of the letters), the Gemara in Menachos lists the following seven letters each of which requires three Tagin - 'Shin', 'Ayin', 'Tes', 'Nun', 'Zayin', 'Gimel' and 'Tzadei', otherwise known as ''Sha'atnez Gatz'.

The Gemara in Menachos (44a) states that someone who purchases a house in Chutz la'Aretz and someone who lives in a guest-house in Eretz Yisrael is exempt from Mezuzah for the first thirty days. But someone who rents a house in Eretz Yisrael is obligated to put up a mezuzah immediately If someone rents out a house (or a room) to his friend, then the onus of purchasing a Mezuzah and affixing it lies on the latter, since, as Chazal have said, 'the Mezuzah is the obligation of the one who resides in the house (and not of the owner) and when he leaves the house, he is forbidden to remove the Mezuzah (unless he re-places it) . .. Ten conditions are required for a house/room to be Chayav a Mezuzah: 1. The room must measure at least four Amos by four Amos; 2.&3. It must have two door-posts and a lintel; 4.It must have a ceiling; 5. It must have a door; 6. The height of the doorway must measure at least ten Tefachim; 7. It must be a dwelling that is used for mundane purposes; 8. It must be made for human habitation; 9. It must be used for a respectable purpose; 10. It must be a permanent dwelling A house with many doors requires a Mezuzah at each one, even if only one of them is in regular use A small door at the foot of a ladder that leads to the attic requires a Mezuzah as does a room inside the house, and even a room within a room, seeing as all of these are an intrinsic part of a residence and all other details of the Mitzvah are dealt with in the the third Perek of Menachos (and in Yoreh De'ah Si'man 285).

This Mitzvah applies everywhere, both to men and to women. Someone who contravenes it, who builds a house with a roof, and who fails to affix a Mezuzah immediately, or who rents a room in Chutz la'Aretz or stays in a guest-house in Eretz Yisrael and does not put up a Mezuzah immediately after the first thirty days have terminated, has negated this Mitzvah. Even though the moment that he is obkigated to put up a Mezuzah has elapsed, the obligated to affix one continues to apply every moment, as long as he resides in the house.

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