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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 13: "Yerach yomim" - A month of days - Targum Yonoson ben Uziel explains these words to mean three months, so that we know if she is already pregnant. Otherwise if the ben Yisroel has relations with her without this wait we would not know if she was already pregnant from a gentile. This is in keeping with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva in the Sifri here who says that "yerach" is a month, and "yomim" adds on two more months. It is interesting to note that the word "yomim" can either mean days, as few as two, a year (Breishis 24:55, Vayikroh 25:29), or months according to Rabbi Akiva.

Ch. 21, v. 17: "Habchore .. yakir lo'seis lo .. b'chole asher yimotzei lo" - The first-born .. he shall recognize to give him .. of all that he has at hand - The first-born refers to Eisov. He is given as an inheritance "muchzak," that which is at hand, the ephemeral perceived pleasures of this world. However, he has no part in "ro'uy lovo," reward that will be given in the world-to-come. (The Holy Admor of Kamarna in Heichal Brochoh)

Ch. 21, v. 23: "Ki kil'las Elokim toluy" - Because a denigration of Hashem is hung - Rashi explains that since a person was created in the form of Hashem, having a human body remain hanging for an extended period of time is a cheapening of Hashem Himself. The Rosh translates "kil'las Elokim" as a "curser of Hashem." If he is left hanging it will publicize his sin of blaspheming Hashem. This is a cheapening of Hashem's honour. The Baa'lei Tosfos translate Elohim as "judges." When one sees the body of one who was judged deserving of death hanging for an extended period of time, he will curse the judges, which is a sin. Haksav V'hakaboloh in the name of the GR"A translates "kil'las" as cheapening and "elohim" as "great," as we find "k'har'rei EIL" (T'hilim 36:7). Having a human body hanging for an extended period of time is extremely demeaning.

Ch. 22, v. 2: "Vaasafto" - And you shall gather IT in - This verse follows on the heels of "hosheiv t'shi'veim," return them, the ox and the sheep. If so, why doesn't our verse follow through with "vaasaftoM," and you shall gather THEM in? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that this teaches us that even though there is a ruling that when a live creature is found one should feed it provided that it provides goods or a service, for example milk, wool, plowing, that at least cover the cost of its upkeep. If it does not, you should sell it and when the person who has lost the object turns up, give him the money. Had our verse said "vaasaftoM," we would mistakenly believe that if one found both an ox and a sheep and when combined they cover the cost of the upkeep of both, but individually, one carries its own weight and part of the other, we are still required to keep both, as the verse expresses itself in the plural form. Now that the verse says "vaasaftO," gather IT, singular, we calculate each animal's earnings on its own. The logic for this is simply because we cannot be sure that both animals belong to one person. It would seem from the words of the Meshech Chochmoh that if we had a strong indication that they both belonged to one person we would then pool their earnings and calculate this against their total upkeep cost.

Ch. 22, v. 22: "Ki yimotzei ish" - When a man is found - Although this verse discusses adultery with the wife of another man, surprisingly, the verse does not spell this out, only saying that he had relations with a married woman. This verse is juxtaposed to the words of the previous verse, "ki os'soh n'voloh b'Yisroel," - because she has done an abomination in Yisroel. These two points allude to the ruling of our Rabbis. The gemara Sanhedrin 46a relates that a man had relations with his own wife in the public domain. Although this was not an act of adultery, because it was a very outrageous scandalous thing to do in public the Rabbis put him to death. Thus even when a man has relations with his own wife, under certain circumstances he should be put to death. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 22, v. 23: "Umtzo'oh ish bo'ir" - And a man happened upon her in the city - The Torah differentiates between this case of a man having relations with a betrothed woman in the city, where they are both guilty of adultery, and when this takes place in the field, away from the public domain, where only he is guilty (verses 25-27). The Torah explains that in the situation that took place in the city it is obvious that the woman was not forced, as she did not scream (verse 24).

This is most puzzling, as the Torah differentiates between the cases and says that in the former both are put to death, while in the latter only the man is put to death, because we assume that the girl was forced. Since the death penalty is only administered when the sinner is warned and responds that he/she is aware of the consequences and is willingly going ahead with the act, how can there be a difference by virtue of location? In both cases the girl must have been warned or she would not be put to death regardless of location.

Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel, Moshav Z'keinim, Sforno, and Chizkuni (Meshech Chochmoh offers the same answer) all say that in both cases the witnesses happen upon them when they are already involved in the sinful act. The girl was also warned and said that she is willingly going ahead with it. Based on the gemara K'subos 51b we have a ruling that if a woman was forced into committing adultery even if she said in the middle of the act that she is a willing partner, she is not held responsible since once involved it is possible that she developed such a great lust that she cannot control her urge at this point. This is called "t'chiloso b'o'ness v'sofo b'rotzon," starting off against one's will and later consenting, which is ruled as being against one's will throughout. (See Rambam hilchos ishus 24:19, hilchos Sanhedrin 20:3).

We now understand why the location plays a difference. When this takes place in the public domain we circumstantially assume that the girl went along with it from the beginning, as she would have otherwise cried out for help, knowing that someone would hear. When this act takes place away from the public domain, even if when she is warned and says that she is a willing partner in crime, we do not punish her because we judge her favourably (Sforno) and say that she was forced at the beginning of the encounter and only now consents because her uncontrollable impulses have taken over.

Ch. 23, v. 6: "Va'yahafoch Hashem Elokecho l'cho es hakoloh livrochoh" - And Hashem your G-d has turned around the curse into a blessing - The word "l'cho" seems superfluous. We have a rule that he who blesses the bnei Yisroel is blessed, "Vaavorcho m'vorachecho" (Breishis 12:3). If so, Bilom should be blessed since in fact he blessed us. Our verse tells us that since his intention was to curse us and only Hashem turned this around, the blessing is "l'cho," only for you, the bnei Yisroel, and not for Bilom. (Degel Machaneh Efrayim)

Ch. 23, v. 10: "V'nishmarto mikole dovor ra" - And you should guard against any bad thing - Rashi says that when one's life is in danger, as here when one has engaged in war, danger is greater, hence the special exhortation to watch out for doing a "dovor ra." Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that this means to be careful to not worship idols, commit adultery, and spill innocent blood. Baal Haturim says that the numerical value of "v'nishmarto" is equal to that of each of the following: "min shfichas domim, min kil'las Hashem, ein l'hista'keil b'ishoh klal," encompassing the message of Targum Yonoson.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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