subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM



Ch. 16, v. 1: "Acharei mose ...... va'yomusu" - Why does the Torah mention their death twice? The Holy Zohar answers that they died twice. Once was their death by fire, and a second death was their dying childless, as is mentioned in Bmidbar 3:4, "U'vonim lo hoyu lohem." Being childless is considered a death in its own right as the M.R. on Breishis 30:1 says regarding Rochel's statement, "Hovoh li vonim v'im ayin meisoh onochi."

Ch. 18, v. 19: "V'el ishoh b'nidas tumosoh lo sikrav" - Not only is it prohibited to have physical relations with a woman who is impure by virtue of menstruating, "nidoh," but even doing acts that bring one close to having such relationships is prohibited, as indicated by the words LO SIKRAV. The gemara Shabbos 13a-b in the name of the Yeshiva of Eliyohu relates that there was a young Torah scholar who died quite prematurely. His wife brought his tefillin to the Beis Hamedrash, the Torah study hall, and said, "My husband who learned Torah and served Torah scholars throughout his life has died at a very young age. Why did this happen?" No one was able to give her an answer. At a later date Eliyohu had occasion to stay in the home of the widow. He asked her about her relationship with her husband while she was in the state of "nidoh," when marital relations are prohibited. She responded that they kept the laws meticulously and never had relations. She added that during the days that she was still in a "nidoh" status and preparing for purification, "y'mei libun," they did sleep on the same bed, and the gemara explains that either the bed was very wide and they did not lie close to each other, or that she was well covered with a garment. Eliyohu pronounced, "Blessed be the Righteous Judge who was not swayed by this man's many merits. It is prohibited to even share a bed when one's wife is a "nidoh," and Hashem rightfully punished him."

One question raised on this story is why did Eliyohu specifically ask about marital matters. (Perhaps he actually raised many questions and eventually hit upon the one that gave him an understanding of Hashem's judgement, and the gemara only related that which was relevant.) Another question asked is why did she bring his tefillin along.

I recently heard an answer to both of these questions from R' Y.E. He feels that this story is connected with another one brought in the gemara Brochos 23a. The gemara relates that a young Torah scholar was wearing his tefillin, as was the custom to wear them all day long. He had the need to use bathroom facilities, and since it is inappropriate and prohibited to bring his tefillin into the bathroom, he removed them and left them outside, as "halacha" mandates. A harlot passed by and saw him remove his tefillin before entering the bathroom. When he had entered she took his tefillin and publicly announced that the scholar hired her services and gave her his tefillin as payment, "esnan zonoh." The young man was mortified and his embarrassment was so great and painful that he climbed a tree and fell off it to his death.

R' Y.E. suggests that the man in the story in the gemara Brochos is one and the same as the man in the gemara Shabbos. We now have both our questions answered. The woman brought his tefillin along with her not to strengthen the question of why he died if he kept mitzvos meticulously, as there are many other mitzvos as well. Rather she brought them to question why her husband's being meticulous to wear tefillin all day and respecting their sanctity by his removing them before entering the bathroom brought about his death. The Torah sage rightfully asked about her marital relations with her husband since Hashem punishes in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh." Since his death came about through a false accusation regarding immoral matters, this indicated to Eliyohu that the man was lax in the realm of marital relations.


Ch. 19, v. 2: "K'doshim ti'y'hu ki kodosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem" - The M.R. VayikrA 24:9 says that one might think that he could equate human sanctity with Hashem's sanctity. Therefore the verse ends with "ki kodosh Ani Hashem Elokeichem," to teach us that Hashem's sanctity is greater.

The Holy Admor of Satmar explains this with the gemara Yoma 56b, which derives from the verse "Hashochein itom b'soch tumosom" (Vayikra 16:16), that even if the bnei Yisroel act ch"v in a manner that brings impurity upon themselves, nevertheless Hashem remains among them. One who has elevated himself to great spiritual plains might also feel that it is safe for him to be amongst people who are great sinners, and their negative actions will have no deleterious effect upon him. Therefore the Torah says that Hashem's sanctity is greater than any level of sanctity that a human is capable of reaching, and one should not risk remaining in such a negative environment.

Perhaps the idea of Hashem's sanctity being greater than man's is alluded to in more than just the juxtaposition of the words in our verse. The word "K'doshim" referring to man's sanctity, is spelled lacking the letter Vov between the Dalet and the Shin, indicating an incomplete sanctity, while the word "Kodosh" referring to Hashem's sanctity, is spelled with the letter Vov between the Dalet and the Shin, indicating complete sanctity.

Ch. 19, v. 3: "Ish imO v'oviV tiro'U" - Why does the verse begin in the singular form "Ish imO v'oviV" and continue in the plural form "tiro'U?" The ShaLo"H answers that although this mitzvoh is incumbent upon each child (singular), the parents are also held responsible to behave in a manner that does not put such a burden upon the child that he would be strongly tempted to not fulfill the mitzvoh. Hence they become partners in the fulfillment of the mitzvoh and the Torah expresses this in the plural form "tiro'U."

In a similar vein the words in the Ten Commandments "Ka'beid es ovicho v'es i'mecho" (Shmos 20:12, Dvorim 5:16), have been interpreted as, "Honour your fatherhood and motherhood," meaning that the parents should behave in a befitting manner that readily elicits honour from their children.

Ch. 19, v. 7: "V'im hei'o'cheil yei'o'cheil bayom hashlishi pigul hu lo yeirotzeh" - Rashi (gemara Z'vochim 28b) explains that this verse does not mean to teach us the invalidation of the sacrifice by virtue of thoughts of eating it beyond its prescribed time limit, known as "mach'shovas chutz lizmano," as that is already derived from Vayikra 7:18. Rather it is discussing the person who is processing the sacrifice having in mind that it should be eaten beyond its prescribed physical boundaries, known as "mach'shovas chutz limkomo." This is alluded to in the verse itself. If we take the numeric value of this complete verse it exactly equals that of "B'chi'sheiv (with a Yud) chutz limkomo hakosuv ha'zeh m'da'beir." (Parp'ro'ose L'chochmoh)

Ch. 19, v. 9: "Lo s'cha'leh PAS sodcho" - Years before the Holy Admor of Gur, the Imrei Emes, immigrated to Eretz Yisroel he visited the Holy Land and among his stops was the famous Yeshivas Eitz Chaim. He noticed that the students were studying mishnayos Pei'oh. He raised the following question: The Torah prohibits cutting of one's "pei'ose" later in our parsha, "Lo sakifu PAS rosh'chem" (19:27). The prohibition is on cutting either of TWO "pei'ose." Yet here, the exact same word PAS is used, and the mitzvoh is to leave over but ONE corner. This question created quite a tumult in the Yeshivah with numerous answers being suggested. This question was asked much earlier by the Radba"z in his commentary on the Rambam hilchos matnas aniim 1:1.

An answer to his question can be found in the Ritv"o in his commentary on gemara Shovuos 2b d.h. "v'al hazokon." He says that a field need not have any specific shape. There might not be any corner at all if it is circular in shape. It might have many corners. Thus it is obvious that the intention of the Torah is that an edge be left over. The contour of the hair on everyone's head has two sideburns. Thus there are automatically two corners of hair on everyone's head. It is obvious that the intention of the Torah in this case is to prohibit cutting either corner.

Ch. 19, v. 11: "Lo tignovU" - This verse refers to the prohibition of stealing property while the verses in Shmos 20:13 and Dvorim 5:17 refer to the prohibition of kidnapping as explained in the gemara B.M. 61a. Why does our verse express itself in the plural form "Lo tignovU," while the verses referring to kidnapping in the singular form, "Lo signove?"

1) The Ibn Ezra answers that one who keeps quiet about the theft of property is considered an accomplice in the crime, hence the plural expression. This requires clarification since the same can be said about one who knows of a kidnapping and remains silent can also be considered an accomplice. Perhaps because of the severity of the punishment for kidnapping and selling, the death penalty, it is very unusual to have a witness to the crime, while common theft sometimes takes place even when there is an onlooker.

2) The Noam Hamitzvos answers that the person who knowingly purchases stolen goods is an accomplice in the crime.

3) The Ponim Yofos answers that the ruling that two or more people committing a kidnapping and selling of the person are not culpable to receive the death penalty is derived from the use of the singular form "lo signove" in the prohibition. However, when two or more people steal property they are all responsible. This is why the Torah expresses this prohibition in the plural form "lo tignovu."

4) Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz answers that once one person has stolen, he has opened the floodgates for others to steal, as explained in the gemara Brochos 5b.

5) He offers a second answer. Since our parsha deals with the concept of sanctifying oneself even in the realm of that which is permitted, as explained by the Ramban in the beginning of our parsha, the Torah is telling us that even if one has not committed outright theft, as in the case of stealing property that has the value of less than a "prutoh," he should refrain from doing so. The Torah therefore expresses this in the plural form to tell us that even if the value of the stolen property is a "prutoh" only by virtue of numerous people taking fractions of a "prutoh," it should still not be done. Indeed, the Talmud Yerushalmi B.M. 4:2 says that this was a sin that the generation of the great deluge was guilty.

6) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that even if the victim of the robbery finds out who the thief is, he should not respond by stealing an object from the robber to compensate for the theft.

7) The Shiltos of Rabbi Hai Gaon on parshas Noach #4 derives from the gemara B.M. 61b that the prohibition of our verse even applies to a case where the robber has no intention to keep the stolen object, and has stolen only to aggravate the victim. The Toras Chaim in his commentary on the gemara says that this is derived from the use of the plural form in our verse. It is logical to assume that the person who has stolen only with the intent to cause aggravation and plans to return the object at a later time will surely let an outsider know of his plans. Otherwise, if he is either caught in the act or if the stolen object is found on his premises, he will be suspected of committing a full-fledged robbery. The outsider is considered an accomplice in the crime.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel