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

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Vol. 15   No. 44

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Parshas Masei

Avenging the Death of a Murdered Man
(Adapted from the Rambam & the Torah Temimah)

The Rambam in Hilchos Rotzei'ach (5:7-10) writes:

7. Initially, both one who killed inadvertently and one who killed on purpose had to run to a city of refuge. Beis-Din of the city in which the killing took place would then … take him out from there and judge him … . If he was Chayav Miysah then they would take him out and kill him (at the hand of the avenger); and if he was declared innocent, they would release him … ; whereas if he was sentenced to go into exile, then they would return him to his previous location (in the city of refuge) … .

8. When returning him to his city of refuge, they would hand him to two Talmidei-Chachamim, to prevent the avenger from killing him on the way; and they would say to him 'Don't treat him like a man who spilt innocent blood; He acted inadvertently'.

9. If the avenger killed an inadvertent murderer outside the boundaries of his city of refuge he is Patur … 10. … irrespective of whether he kills him before he enters the city of refuge or whilst he is being taken by the two Talmidei-Chachamim who are guarding him, after the court hearing. However, should the latter deliberately leave the boundaries of his city of refuge after having entered it (following the Beis-Din's ruling), then he has forfeited his life; the avenger has permission to kill him; whereas anybody else who kills him is not Chayav if he does … . But anyone, even the avenger, who kills him within the boundaries of his city of refuge, is Chayav Miysah.

Note: a. although the man killed inadvertently, the Rambam (like Chazal) refer to him as a murderer; b. that at no time does the avenger have a Mitzvah to kill the murderer, even if the latter leaves the city of refuge, which as long as the Kohen Gadol is alive, he is not permitted to do under any circumstances. This is in keeping with the opinion of R. Akiva in the Mishnah in the first Perek of Makos.


The Torah writes (35:12), "And the cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger. However, the murderer shall not die until he stands before the Sanhedrin in judgement".

Commenting on this Pasuk, the Gemara in Makos (12a), citing a B'raisa, rules that the mandate the Torah (in Pasuk 27) gives to the avenger to kill a murderer who leaves the city of refuge, does not apply until after Beis-Din have found the latter guilty, and he arrives in the city of refuge the second time.

The Torah Temimah points out that the Rambam (in Hilchos Rotzei'ach 5:10) does not concur with this Halachah, and, citing the Kesef Mishnah, he attributes it to the fact that, as the Gemara points out, it is the opinion of R. Eliezer, and that both R. Yossi Haglili and R. Akiva disagree with it. According to them, the same Pasuk refers, not to the avenger (whose mandate to kill the murderer begins from the time of the murder), but to the Sanhedrin who witnessed the murder, forbidding them to carry out the death penalty or even to pronounce it, requiring another Beis-Din to judge and sentence him.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (26a), in turn, ascribes this ruling to the Pasuk "ve'hitzilu ha'Eidah", an obligation for the Beis-Din to do everything in its power to save the defendant from the death-sentence, something that, having witnessed the murder, they would be incapable of doing. See Torah Temimah (17).


The Torah Temimah, cites the Kesef Mishnah (in Hilchos Rotzei'ach 1:5), who with regard to the Rambam's ruling like R. Akiva (in connection with the prohibition of Beis-Din [or anybody else] who witnessed a murder taking action before the culprit has been sentenced by another Beis-Din). And he gives the source for this Rambam as the first D'rashah that we cited from the Gemara in Makos, forbidding the avenger to act until the murderer has been sentenced to exile.

And he wonders at the Kesef Mishnah, who (in Perek 5) goes to great lengths to explain why the Rambam rejected that D'rashah (as we explained earlier)? And besides, he points out, what has that D'rashah got to do with the Beis-Din not taking action? Nor does he understand why he does not rather cite the second B'raisa that we quoted earlier in the name of R. Akiva.

* * *

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

All in Good Hands

" …Va'yichtov Moshe es motzeihem le'mas'eihem, ve'eileh mas'eihem le'motzeihhem'' (33:2).

The switch from "motzeihem le'mas'eihem" to "mas'eihem le'motzeihhem" teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, that both their travels and their encampments were controlled by Hashem and at His command.

See also the first of the K'li Yakar's three explanations.


Clearing Out the Unwanted Elements

"And they traveled from Ra'amses" (33:3).

Only two Pesukim further, the Torah writes "And the B'nei Yisrael traveled from Ra'amses", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. At first, he replies, Yisrael and the Eirev Rav traveled together as one large group. Once however, the camps were organized, they separated the Eirev Rav, so that all of the B'nei Yisrael encamped together.


Risah, Keheilasah & Makheilos

"And they encamped in Risah … and they encamped in Keheilasah … (Har Shafer) … Charadah … Makheilos" (33:21-25).

"Risah", the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, is a derivative of 'nisroseis' (broken), meaning that they encamped there broken in spirit.

"Keheilasah" … is where Korach gathered the people against Moshe and Aharon, and …

"Makheilos" - is where they assembled against Moshe and Aharon (when they had no water). Alternatively, it refers to the crossing of the Yam-Suf,and what the Pasuk means is 'that they traveled from Charadah (where they were afraid of the pursuing Egyptians), and they encamped in 'Makheilos', where all various groups (even the unborn fetuses) sang Shirah to Hashem.



"And you shall distribute (ve'hisnachaltem) the land" (33:54).

The same word (ve'hisnachaltem) appears in one other place in the Torah (in Behar 25:46) in connection with Avadim Cana'anim. This teaches us, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, with regard to Kinyanim, Avadim Cana'anim are compared to land.


He also observes that the word 'Nachaloh', in one form or another, appears four times in this Pasuk. This hints, he explains, that each person received four portions of inheritance … one in the mountains, one in the plains, one in the low-lands and the fourth, by the sea-shore.

On the other hand, he says, the Pasuk begins with the word "nachaloh" and ends with the word "nachaloh", to teach us that if these portions turned out to be far apart from one another, they had to accept it.


Nice Names, Nice People

"These are the names of the men who will distribute the land to them … " (34:17).

In the very next Pasuk, the Torah repeats the phrase " And these are the names of the men"!

Yes, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, these leaders (as opposed to the previous one) had nice names, and performed 'nice' deeds to match.


Elidad ben Kislon

"To the tribe of Binyamin, Elidad ben Kislon" (34:21).

This was alias Eldad, explains the Ba'al ha'Turim, co-prophet together with Meidad (see end of Parshas Be'ha'aloscha). And the reason that the Torah adds a letter 'Yud' to his name, is that it represents Nevi'us (prophesy), which has ten names … Chazon, Hatofoh, Dibur, Amirah, Tzivuy, Masa, Mashal, Melitzah, Chidah and Nevu'ah.


Borders & Extremities

"And you shall measure from outside the city on the east side two thousand Amos … " (34:5).

The wording of the Pasuk confirms what Chazal say that the Din of two thousand Amos that constitutes the outer borders of a city (as regards T'chum Shabbos and other issues) begins only from the extremity of the city (i.e. the last house), provided it is situated not further than seventy Amos and a bit from the edge of the city.


Three Kohanim Gedolim

"And he shall stay there until the Kohen Gadol dies … " (35:25).

The words "Kohen Gadol" appear three times in the Parshah, says the Ba'al ha'Turim. This is because three Kohanim Gedolim release the murderers from the cities of refuge: the one who was anointed with the anointing oil, the one who was initiated by wearing the eight garments and the one who re-placed a Kohen Gadol who was Tamei on Yom-Kipur.


The Daughters of Tz'lofchad & Hasavas Nachlah

"This is the thing that Hashem commanded the daughters of Tz'lofchad, to whoever is good in their eyes they shall marry" (36:6).

The Gemara in (Bava Basra 120a) learns from this Pasuk that the prohibition of an heiress marrying a man from a different tribe (see next Pearl) was confined to other women. But as for the B'nos Tz'lofchad, they were permitted to marry whoever they wished.

And the continuation of the Pasuk, which instructs the B'nos Tz'lofchad to marry into the family of their father's tribe, is a piece of good advice, not an obligation.


The Or ha'Chayim explains with this the unusual order of phrases in Pasuk 10, where the Torah writes "Like Hashem commanded Moshe, so the B'nos Tz'lofchad did" (rather than the other way round). What the Pasuk is saying is that these righteous women did what Hashem commanded (not to them, but) the rest of Yisrael, and they married their cousins.


Moving the Inheritance from One Tribe to Another

"And the inheritance shall not move for the B'nei Yisrael from one tribe to another (ve'lo sisov nachaloh …)" (34:7). The numerical value of "sisov nachaloh" is equivalent to that of 'Zu hi be'hasovas ha'ben'; whilst that of "ve'lo sisov nachaloh" equals that of 'Zu hi hasovas ha'ba'al'.

These two Gematriyos incorporate the prohibition that was said to that generation of not moving the inheritance from one tribe to another. A woman who married a man from another tribe would do this when she died, either when her son (or daughter) inherited her or her husband.

* * *


'And the Egyptians were burying all the firstborn among them that G-d had killed, and G-d also punished their gods; the idols of metal melted, those of stone broke into pieces, those of earthenware cracked and those of wood were cut up, and their animals died too' (33:4).


'And the B'nei Yisrael travelled from Pilusin (Ra'amses) and they encamped in Succos, where they were protected by the seven Clouds of Glory' (33:5).


'When the wicked Amalek heard that Yisrael were coming, he joined forces with the Cana'anim and ruled in Arad, though his residence was in the south. He waged war with them (Yisrael) but they destroyed him and all his cities' (33:40).


'And they travelled from Tzalmonah in Punon, the place where G-d sent fiery snakes to attack them, and their cries reached the Heavens' (33:42).


' ... they travelled from Divon, the House of Mazel, and they encamped in Almon Divlosoymoh; there too, the well was hidden from them, because they abandoned the words of Torah which are as sweet as a juicy fig ('Divlosoh')'.


'And the congregation shall save the murderer from the hand of the avenger, and they shall return him to his city of refuge ... and he shall remain there up until the time that the Kohen Gadol dies ... And because he (the Kohen Gadol) did not Daven on Yom Kipur in the Kodesh Kodshim that Yisrael should not stumble in one of the three cardinal sins (idolatry, adultery and the spilling of innocent blood), which he had the power to prevent with his prayers, he is destined to die that year' (35:25).

* * *

(Adapted from the B'nei Yisaschar)

According to the Arizal, who maintains that each of the months correspond to one of the limbs in the head, Tamuz corresponds to the right eye, and Av, to the left. And it is about today, when we have sinned and are in Galus, that the Pasuk therefore writes in Eichah (1:16) "My eye, my eye, will run with water. And this is also hinted in the Gemara (Ta'anis 24a) when they say that a bride (with reference to K'lal Yisrael) whose eyes are beautiful (in good order), requires no further examination, implying that when they are not, she does (i.e. she is not in a good state of health). When Pinchas (Eliyahu) arrives to herald the coming of Mashi'ach, then the eyes will once again be restored to good health. Hence the Gematriyah of 'Pinchas Eliyahu' = 260, two times that of 'Ayin'.


The Paytan in one of the Kinos that we recite on Tish'ah be'Av, states (quoting Moshe at the Burning Bush) 'Why do you send me , since you will anyway send (Eliyahu) the Gil'adi at a later date?' The sour ce for this lies in the Targum Yonasan in Sh'mos (4:13) who, commenting on the Pasuk "Send whoever you will send" writes 'Send them out through the hand of Pinchas Eliyahu, whom You are (anyway) going to send at the end of days!'

There is no real hint for this in the Pasuk, says the B'nei Yisaschar, except for the word "Sar" (in the Pasuk "va'yar Hashem ki sar lir'os"), whose Gematriyah is two hundred and sixty, the equivalent of twice 'Ayin' as we explained. What Moshe therefore saw at that revelation was that the two eyes (the months of Tamuz and Av) would not function properly until the coming of Mashi'ach. And that explains why he asked G-d to relieve him of the leadership and to rather send Pinchas Eliyahu in his stead, like the words of Targum Yonasan ben Uziel.


We have a tradition, says the B'nei Yisaschar, that the two Mashichim (ben Yosef and ben David) will be called Nechemyah ben Chushiel and Menachem ben Ami'el, respectively. And so the Paytan (in one of the S'lichos that we say during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah) lists 'Tishbi, Menachem u'Nechemyah'. Now the Gematriyah of 'Nechemyah ben Chushiel, Menachem ben Ami'el' & 'Eliyahu' equals that of Bereishis. The three redeemers are specifically hinted in the opening words of the Torah to teach us that when Mashi'ach comes, "G-d will rejoice ('yismach [the same letters as Mashi'ach]) with His creations (Tehilim 104:31)".

And if we now connect the end of the Torah with the beginning "le'einei kol Yisrael (before the eyes of Yisrael) Bereishis boro Elokim … " … what the Torah is now hinting is that when the three redeemers arrive (Eliyahu, Menachem & Nechemyah), the eyes of Yisrael (the months of Tamuz and Av) will finally be rectified, may this happen speedily in our days.

* * *

(based on the Seifer Mo'adim ba'Halachah)

The Mo'adim ba'Halachah cites the Birkei Yosef, who presents a rather startling proof to permit eating meat during the nine days, that has been leftover from Se'udas Shabbos.

The latter bases his Heter on the Gemara in Chulin (17a), which informs us that any food that Yisrael found in the course of the conquest of Cana'an, they were allowed to eat by special concession. The Gemara there then suggests that perhaps any pieces that remained after the conquest had terminated, remained permitted.

The author concludes however, that the case under discussion is not comparable to the proof (but fails to say why).

Presumably, he had in mind the fact that whereas the Gemara in Chulin is talking about an Isur Cheftza (one that pertains to the object, which did not change after the termination of the conquest), the Isur under discussion is an Isur Gavra (one that pertains to the person, on whom the prohibition takes effect after Shabbos has terminated).

It is also not clear as to why, according to the logic behind the proof, meat from the Shabbos meals is different than any other meat that remains from before the onset of the nine days. That too, ought to be permitted, a ridiculous suggestion inasmuch as that would effectively negate the entire prohibition!

* * *

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