by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 11: "V'lokachto l'cho l'ishoh" - Rashi says that the Torah did not say this law except for the purpose of countering the evil inclination (Sifri 21:2). Rabbi Meir of Premishlan explains that there is a natural tendency for the evil inclination to persuade a person to transgress that which is prohibited by the Torah. Since Hashem knew that during war when the soldiers are away from home they would have an inclination towards a woman of good appearance, He allowed for this. Once the Torah did not prohibit this woman, the urge created by the "yeitzer hora" is weakened. The Torah only permitted taking a "y'fas to'ar" to use reverse psychology on a person's evil inclination.

Ch. 21, v. 14: "V'hoyoh im lo chofatzto boh" - The use of the word "chofatzto" raises two questions:

1) Should this not have been expressed in the future form "im lo TACHPOTZ?" 2) Why is there a change from the word form "CHEISHEK" as used in verse 11, "V'choshakto voh?"

The Ohel Mo'eid answers that the term CHEISHEK is used to express a short-lived yearning and desire, spurred on by lust and emotion only. The term CHOFEITZ is used to express a desire which develops from one's intellect and calculated thinking. Verse 11 tells us that the first desire will be a lustful one. Our verse tells us that even if a person fooled himself into believing that his desire was brought about by his intellect, after he has taken her home and has lived with her for a short period of time he will realize that "lo CHOFATZTO," you have not desired her originally through an intellectually calculated thought process.

Ch. 21, v. 17: "Lo'seis lo pi shnayim" - This verse advises us that the first-born has the primogeniture privilege of inheriting a double portion. The word for first-born is B'CHOR, spelled Beis-Chof-Reish. The kabalistic work Igeres Hatiul cheilek ho'remez #2, page 75 says that the letters of the word BCHOR, themselves allude to this, as each letter has the numeric value of two (Chof and Reish have this value in "mispar koton" where all zeroes are removed). The GR"A similarly points out that the letters of the word BCHOR themselves allude to this. The three letters Beis, Chof, and Reish have the double numerical value of the letters they follow. Beis is double Alef, Chof is double Yud, and Reish is double Kof.

Ch. 21, v. 21: "U'viarto horo mikirbecho v'chol Yisroel yish'm'u v'yi'ro'u" - The Perach L'vonone interprets: If you will cleanse the bad from within yourself, then when you deliver a mussar speech to others, they will accept it and it will bring fear of Hashem into their hearts. This will not happen if you yourself are not spiritually cleansed.

Ch. 22, v. 17: "V'hinei hu som alilose dvorim" - Earlier in this episode in verse 14 it says, "V'som LOH alilose dvorim." In our verse the word LOH is not mentioned. The Meshech Chochmoh explains that in verse 14 the Torah relates that a husband falsely claims that his wife had committed an infidelity. There is no indication that the husband's claim has affected his father-in-law's reputation. Therefore the word LOH is used, indicating that his claim only damages his wife's reputation. In our verse we have the father appearing in court defending his daughter. He claims that not only has his daughter's reputation been falsely tarnished, but also his own, as the father of a woman who could commit such a grievous sin, as we find in Vayikroh 21:9, "es ovihoh hi m'cha'leles." Indeed this is the reason that the guilty husband receives a two-fold punishment, lashes and a fine of 100 kesef (v. 18,19).

The lashes are a punishment for the shame he caused his wife, and the payment is to his father-in-law for the shame he was caused to suffer. This explains why there is a double punishment for one act even according to the opinion that when one act brings two punishments, lashes and monetary payment, the payment is waived by virtue of the rule "kom lei dibrabo mi'nei" (gemara K'subos 32b, 33b), only the harsher punishment is administered. However, since the lashes are a retribution for his slandering his wife and the payment is for his indirectly slandering his father-in-law, the rule of "malkus l'ze umomone l'ze" allows for both punishments to be administered.

This last point of the Meshech Chochmoh seems to be dependant upon the opinions mentioned in 22:19, the following offering.

Ch. 22, v. 19: "V'onshu oso mei'oh kesef v'nosnu la'avi hanaaroh" - The words "v'nosnu la'avi hanaaroh" seem to clearly indicate that the father is the recipient of the 100 kesef fine. The Baalei Tosfos in Moshav Z'keinim mention in the name of Rabbi Hai Gaon:

1) That the father does not keep the money for himself, as his daughter is already fully married, "n'suoh," but rather is only a safekeeper of the money, which actually belongs to his maligned daughter.

This opinion does not fit with the last point made by the Meshech Chochmoh in the previous offering, as mentioned above.

2) That the father does actually keep the money as a reward for coming to court and taking up his daughter's case.

3) That the father actually does keep the money since he was also maligned, albeit indirectly. This last explanation is fully in line with the above-mentioned Meshech Chochmoh.

Ch. 23, v. 4: "Lo yovo Amoni u'Moavi bikhal Hashem" - The gemara Y'vomos 77a says that only the males of the Amonim and Moavim are excluded from marrying a Yisroelis, but the female Moabites and Amonites may be married to a Yisroel. From the text of the Torah this cannot be derived, but rather this is an oral tradition, "halacha l'Moshe miSinai," that the intention of the verse is to only exclude the males.

Indeed King Dovid's opponents, Do'eig and his followers, derided King Dovid and not only claimed that he was disqualified from being a king because of his descent from the lineage of Ruth the Moabite, but that he was also not allowed to marry a Yisroelis, since our verse prohibits this. There was much Talmudic give and take regarding this matter and no clear decision was made until Amoso son of the Yish'm'eili (Divrei Ha'yomim 1:2:17), meaning that he girded himself with a sash that held a sword which he brandished, saying that upon the punishment of death all must accept the ruling that he had received as an oral tradition handed down from the court of the prophet Shmuel of Romoh that only the males of Amon and Moav are included in this restriction. King Dovid says in T'hilim 119:161,162, "Sorim r'dofuni chinom umiDVORcho pochad libi. Sos onochi al IMROsecho......" Rabbi Boruch Frankel-Tumim (Boruch Taam) says that the above-mentioned story in the gemara is alluded to in these words. Rabbeinu Bachyei in parshas Yisro says that the term DIBUR means the written words of the Torah, and AMIROH refers to the oral tradition, "Torah sheb'al peh." "Sorim r'dofuni chinom," Ministers, Do'eig and his followers, have pursued me for no purpose, not having a legitimate case in claiming that I am not fit to be a king and not even allowed to marry a Yisroelis. "UmiDVORcho pochad libi," - from the written words of your Torah my heart was frightened, as there is no proof from the text of the Torah that the verse excludes only males of Amon and Moav. "Sos onochi al IMROsecho" - I rejoice upon hearing the oral interpretation of your Torah, "Torah sheb'al peh," which tells us that only the males of Amon and Moav are excluded from marrying a Yisroelis, and I am therefore allowed to marry a Yisroelis, and am also fit to be king.

Ch. 23, v. 8: "Lo s'sa'eiv Adomi KI OCHICHO hu" - These words can be interpreted homiletically. The word "odome," red, is symbolic of sin, as stated in Yeshayohu 1:18, "Im Y'h'yu CHato'eichem Kashonim Ka'sheleg Yalbinu."

"LO s'sa'eiv ADOMI," do not hate the redness of sin, saying that it is hopeless to make amends, and that no good can come from a sin. Rather say that with repentance through love of Hashem, "teshuvoh mei'ahavoh," the sins become merits. The letters of KI OCHICHO, Kof-Yud-Alef-Ches-Yud-Chof, are the "roshei seivos," the first letters of, "Im Y'h'yu CHato'eichem Kashonim Ka'sheleg Yalbinu." - (Y'sode haTorah)

Ch. 25, v. 2,3: "B'mispor, Arbo'im ya'kenu" - The gemara Makos 22b says that although the straightforward meaning of these words is that forty lashes are administered, nevertheless the Rabbis interpret the words to mean one lash less than forty, thirty-nine. The gemara goes on to say, "How foolish some people act. They stand up in reverence of a passing Torah Scroll, and when a Torah Scholar, a "GAVRO RABO" passes by, they remain seated. The literal word of the Torah is to administer 40 lashes and the Torah Scholars have reduced it by one.

During a summer Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski of Vilna spent some time in a resort town and for the first time met with the Holy Admor of Ostrovtze. After some persuasion the Holy Admor acquiesced to the wishes of Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer, and told him a "Torah chiddush." Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer was so impressed with the Torah chiddush that he lavishly praised the Holy Admor, including in his praises the expression GAVRO RABO. The Holy Admor responded that he was not a GAVRO RABO and that Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer had incorrectly given him this appellation.

Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer asked why this was an inappropriate title. The Holy Admor responded that if the Gaon felt that he was very scholarly it would be appropriate to call him a Talmid Chochom only.

Upon being asked who is considered a GAVRO RABO, the Holy Admor responded that the above-mentioned gemara says that the Rabbis who concluded that the Torah's intention with the words "arbo'im ya'kenu" means only thirty-nine are considered GAVRO RABO. A question can be raised. Why doesn't the Toras Kohanim 12:8 which interprets the verse that appears earlier in the Torah (Vayikro 23:16), "Tis'p'ru chamishim yom," - you shall count fifty days, and the Rabbis likewise say that the intention is to only count forty-nine days, say that the Rabbis are GAVRO RABO?

"We see from here," said the Holy Admor, "that only when one eases the pain and affliction of a fellow Jew is the appellation GAVRO RABO appropriate."

To understand how the ruling that only 49 days are counted can be reconciled with the words,"Tis'p'ru chamishim yom," see Rashi on the verse and Tosfos on the gemara M'nochos 65b d.h. "Kosuv echod." As well, there is a most interesting answer by the Rosh at the end of gemara P'sochim #40.

The Haksav V'hakabolloh says that the interpretation that "arbo'im ya'kenu" means only thirty-nine can be extracted from the words of the verse itself. Instead of translating "arbo'im ya'kenu" as "forty lashes he should SMITE him," it should be translated as "from the number forty he should DEDUCT." L'NAKOSE (spelled with a Kof as this word form is spelled here) means to DEDUCT. By subtracting one lash, we are left with a total of thirty-nine lashes.

Answer to last week's question:

Ch. 20, v. 20: "Rok ho'eitz asher TEIDA" - When we have a doubt if a Torah prohibition applies, we apply the dictum "sofeik d'Oreisoh l'chumroh," when in doubt regarding a Torah-level law, we are stringent. However, there is a disagreement between the Rambam and the Rashboh if acting stringently is required by Torah law or if by Torah law one may be lenient, and it is only a Rabbinical decree to be stringent. According to the opinion that "sofeik d'Oreisoh m'd'Oreisoh l'kuloh," that by Torah law one may be lenient, why does the Torah say that only a tree which YOU KNOW is not a fruit producing tree may be cut down? Even when one has a doubt if it produces fruit, he would also be permitted to do so by Torah law.

I heard in the name of Rabbi Chaim haLevi Soloveitchik that the prohibition of "bal tash'chis," needless wasting, is not limited to the actual object itself, but also to its value. Let us say that the value of the tree which is in doubt would be $100 if it were definitely not a fruit producing tree, and good for lumber only. If it would definitely be a fruit-producing tree, let us say it would be worth $200. Since there is a doubt as to which type of tree this is, it would be fair to say that for the 50/50 chance involved, its fair market value would be right in the middle, at $150. However, if one were to fell this tree, it would not be capable of producing fruit and would have the lesser value. Hence, felling a tree which is doubtful if it is a fruit-producing tree is not a doubt in value. It definitely loses value as a cut tree, so if a "sofeik" fruit tree is felled it brings a definite loss of value. Therefore the Torah only permits felling a tree that is SURELY NOT a fruit tree. This is quite a "chiddush" and has only been verbally transmitted in the name of the Gra"Ch haLevi.


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