by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues


Ch. 5, v. 2: "TO'MEI l'nefesh" - Rashi explains that the source for the word TO'MEI is the Aramaic word for bones. I am puzzled as to why Rashi doesn't point this out earlier. The first time this root word is used is in Breishis 34:5-13, regarding the story of Sh'chem and Dinoh. It is understood why Rashi does not mention the Aramaic source there, as since the defilement was not connected to a dead person, there is no direct connection to the bone-defilement concept. However, Vayikroh is replete with the word form TOMEI. Any clarification would be appreciated.

Ch. 5, v. 4: "Va'yaasu kein bnei Yisroel va'y'shalchu" - Where were the "t'mei'im" sent? The Ibn Ezra says that they were sent to an area between the Efraim and Dan encampments.

Ch. 5, v. 7: "V'hisvadu v'heishiv" - Why does the verse begin with the plural form and end with the singular form? The Ibn Ezra answers that the beginning of the verse refers back to both the man and woman who are mentioned in verse 6. The end of the verse refers singly to either the man or the woman. We are still left with the problem of why the verse changed from both, to each singularly. The Beis Yisroel answers with the gemara B.M. 75b, which says that one who lends to another when no witnesses are present, has given ample opportunity for the borrower to lie about the loan having ever taken place. The lender has transgressed "v'lifnei i'veir lo si'tein mich'shol" (Vayikroh 19:14). Likewise here, when a person is able to deny that he ever borrowed from another person and has even sworn falsely to that effect, both the borrower and the lender are responsible, hence the plural form "v'hisvadu." Once the borrower has admitted to lying, ONLY HE is responsible to make good the payment, hence the singular form.

Ch. 5, v. 13: "O'soh" - Rashi ends his commentary on this verse with a "droshoh" that from the word "o'soh" we exclude the infidelity of the "sotoh's" sister. The following words appear in the Rashi as well, but are found in parentheses: "as with the story of the two sisters who were similar in appearance."

The Sifsei Chachomim explains that this Rashi refers to the gemara Y'vomos 95a, which tells us that if the husband of the wayward wife had himself been unfaithful and had relations with his wife's sister, it would not forbid their own marriage from continuing. This in no way explains the last words of Rashi, "who were similar in appearance." As mentioned above, these words are in parentheses, the Sifsei Chachomim did not have it in his text, or considered it an inaccurate text.

However, to understand the words "who were similar in appearance" we might possibly say that Rashi refers to a Yalkut Shimoni at the end of remez #705. It relates the following: A man was suspicious of his wife's activities with another man after she had gone into seclusion with him. He warned her not to repeat this, but she took no heed and repeated her improper actions. As required by halacha, he started his trip to Yerusholayim with his wife, to have her tested by drinking the dreaded "bitter sotoh waters." It was a lengthy trip, and the woman's sister lived in a community that was on the way to Yerusholayim. They stopped there for overnight lodging. When the two sisters had some privacy, the host sister asked her visiting sister the purpose of the visit, as it was not the season for the holiday pilgrimage to the Holy City. Her sister responded that she was on her way to be tested with the "mei sotoh." The host sister asked if she was indeed guilty, to which she responded in the affirmative.

The host sister suggested a most novel scheme. Since they were extremely similar in appearance, she offered to switch clothes with her errant sister and pretend to be the "sotoh." The guilty sister readily agreed, realizing that she would otherwise be put to the test and have only two options; to admit her guilt and be divorced and sent away in shame with no financial support, or to drink the waters and risk death.

The ruse worked and the imposter was not caught by her sister's husband. She drank the waters, suffering no negative affects, and happily started the trip homeward. They once again stopped at the home of the sister, and when the guilty one stepped out of the house to greet her sister who had saved her life, they embraced and kissed each other on the lips. A bit of the flavour of the "mei sotoh" still lingered in the imposter's throat and entered the mouth of the guilty sister. There was an immediate reaction. The adulteress's body started to swell and she died shortly thereafter, the ultimate kiss of death.

If this story is the one to which Rashi refers, we clearly see why he mentioned that the sisters were similar in appearance. The verse tells us that the "mei sotoh" only affect the guilty woman, "o'soh," and not the imposter sister.

I have a bit of difficulty understanding the story. Since the truly guilty woman never accepted upon herself the oath and the curse inherent in the waters, how was she negatively affected? These are a prerequisite to the effectiveness of the whole procedure.

Ch. 5, v. 18: "Mei haMORIM" - Rashi explains that the waters are called bitter waters because of the bitter outcome if the woman is guilty. This explanation is found in the Sifri 5:58. However, the Ramban quotes the gemara Sotoh 20a which says that this word teaches us that an object is placed into the waters which gives it a bitter flavour.

Ch. 5, v. 22: "Omein omein" - Rashi lists a number of oaths of non-guilt that she must make. These are derived from the double expression. They are listed in the gemara Sotoh 18a. The Targum Yerushalmi says a most startling thing. She makes an oath that she did not defile herself with the act of adultery in the past and that she will not do so in the FUTURE. How can an oath to not sin in the future be binding? The gemoros N'dorim and Shvuos are replete with the rule that anything that is already binding by the oath of acceptance of the Torah cannot have an additional oath added.

Ch. 6, v. 2: "Ki yafli" - The Ibn Ezra says that this means that a person has done an astounding thing, a "pelleh." It is astounding to have someone voluntarily separate himself from the pleasures of this physical world.

Ch. 6, v. 5: "Kodosh y'h'yeh" - The gemara Nozir 5a says that a man who accepts upon himself to be a nozir and has not specified for how many days the "n'zirus" should last, is required to be a nozir for thirty days, "stam n'zirus shloshim yom." The gemara says that this is derived from the numerical value of the word "y'h'yeh" in our verse, which equals 30.

Ch. 6, v. 5: "Ga'deil pera sar rosho" - We see that the nozir is not only prohibited to cut his hair, but as well, that it is holy. Perhaps there is a symbolic message here. The human body corresponds to the mitzvos of the Torah, the body having 365 sinews and 248 organs (male). Correspondingly, the Torah has given us 613 mitzvos which include 365 restrictions and 248 positive precepts. The nozir has taken upon himself something extra, beyond the restrictions of the Torah, and has included them in the list of restrictions. Human hair is in some ways beyond the basic body. We find that it can be cut with feeling no pain, that although a person has died, it continues to grow for a short while, and that the prohibition to not derive benefit from a human body after the person has died does not apply to hair.

All these points show us a beyond the body relationship of hair with the rest of the person. Since the nozir has taken extra restrictions upon himself, the Torah wants him to be continuously conscious of this, and gives his hair sanctity that it would not otherwise have.

Ch. 6, v. 7: "U'l'achoso" - The Torah gives us a list of relatives to whom the nozir may not defile himself. The mention of each additional relative teaches us that even when there is a more pressing need to avoid involvement with a burial, it is only for a person who has others to bury him that the nozir must remain "tohor," undefiled. However, for a dead person who has no one else to bury him, a "meis mitzvoh," he must defile himself (gemara Nozir 48b). "U'l'achoso" teaches us that he must defile himself to a "meis mitzvoh" even if he is a nozir who is on his way to perform a circumcision on his own son and also on the way to sacrifice his Paschal lamb.

The Torah T'mimoh says that the word "achoso" alludes specifically to the mitzvos of circumcision and the Paschal lamb, as their fulfillment is an act of sibling closeness to Hashem. We find this in the Medrash Shir Hashirim 5:2 on the words, "pis'chi li ACHOSI ra'yosi." The medrash says that the bnei Yisroel are called Hashem's sister when they fulfill the mitzvos of circumcision and bringing the Paschal lamb.

Ch. 6, v. 24: "V'yish'm'rechoh" - May Hashem bless you and have the blessing reside in you as "shmorim," the dregs at the bottom of a barrel of wine. When the blessing is hidden it has the ability to be maintained; "ein habrochoh m'tzuyoh elloh b'dovor hasomuy min ho'ayin" (gemara Taanis 8b, B.M. 42a). (The Holy Admor of Kotzk)

Ch. 7, v. 3: "Sheish eglos TZOV" - We have numerous translations for the word TZOV.

1) COVERED wagons. (Rashi)
2) HANDSOME appearance, as in Shmuel 2:1:19, "haTZVI Yisroel." (Rashi)
3) Calves which are specially suited to pull wagons. (Ibn Ezra)
4) FULL and BULGING, as in Bmidbar 5:21, "bitneich TZOVOH." (Ibn Ezra)
5) PAIRED calves. (Targum Yerushalmi)

Ch. 7, v. 13: "V'korbono" - Since Nach'shon was the first to bring the donations and sacrifices for the dedication of the Mishkon, why do we have a connecting Vov at the beginning of this word? It would seem to indicate that he was not the first to bring a dedication sacrifice.

Rabbeinu Bachyei answers that it is exactly because he was the first that we have a Vov which SEEMS to indicate that he was not the first. This way he would not feel overly proud. The Ibn Ezra and Rashbam say that since the previous verse tells us that he brought his sacrifice, but did not specify what it was, the next verse is saying, "AND the sacrifice (mentioned in the previous verse was) ......"

Ch. 7, v. 13: "Kaaras kesef achas shloshim u'mei'oh mishkoloh mizrok echod kesef shivim shekel b'shekel hakodesh SHNEIHEM m'lei'im" - The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the "k'oroh," the plate had a thin wall, while the "mizrok," the bowl, had a thick wall. How does he know this? The GR"A says that the gemara Yoma 62b derives from the word "SHNEI" (Vayikroh 16:5) that the two goat sacrifices of Yom Kippur must be similar.

Here we also have the word SHNEI in "SHNEIHEM m'lei'im." This teaches us that the two vessels are equal. The "k'oroh" had almost twice as much silver in it as the "mizrok." How then could they be equal? The GR"A answers that they have equal volume of content. This could only be true if the vessel made of 130 coins of silver weight was created with a very thick wall, and the vessel made of 70 coins of silver weight was created with a thinner wall.

The Meshech Chochmoh says that with this we can understand a difference in the description of the vessels. When describing the weight of the thick-walled "k'oroh" the Torah gives us the weight as 130 without mentioning that it refers to 130 SHEKEL COIN weights, and when describing the description of the "mizrok" the Torah says "70 SHEKEL B'SHEKEL HAKODESH."

The "mizrok" was made with a thin wall which was the thickness of the original shekel coin. Since a characteristic of the original coin was maintained, the Torah mentions SHEKEL. The "k'oroh," however, was created with a very thick wall, approximately double the thickness of a shekel.

Since there was no vestige of the original shekel, the Torah only mentioned the number without mentioning the coin.

Ch. 7, v. 48: " Ba'yom hashvii nosi livnei Efraim" - The Medrash Tanchumoh #28 says in the name of Rabbi Yochonon that we can derive from the words (Breishis 43:16), "u'tvoach tevach V'HOCHEIN" that Yosef kept Shabbos. Since a king always has fresh food prepared daily, it was obviously only in honour of Shabbos that Yosef had food prepared the previous day. Hashem promised Yosef, "Since you kept Shabbos even before it was commanded, I promise you that you will have a descendant who will have his sacrifices brought on the Shabbos." This was fulfilled at the time of the dedication, as it says, "Ba'yom hashvii (which was Shabbos) nosi livnei Efraim."


Shoftim Ch. 13, v. 5: "U'moreh LO YAA'LEH AL ROSHO ki nzir Elokim y'h'yeh hanaar min habo'ten," - v. 7: "Ki nzir Elokim y'h'yeh hanaar min ha'beten AD YOM MOSO" - Verse 5 contains the words of the angel to the wife of Monoach, and verse 7 contains the words of Monoach's wife to her husband. There are two noticeable differences between the two verses. In verse 5 the angel mentions that a razor shall not go upon the newborn child's head, but he leaves out that the child will be a nozir until his death, while the wife of Monoach relates to her husband that the child will be a nozir from the womb until his death, but leaves out that a razor shall not go upon his head.

The Meshech Chochmoh says that the angel was telling her the laws of a nozir from birth. Therefore he mentioned that a razor shall not be used on the child's head as per Bmidbar 6:5. There was no need to mention that the status of nozir would continue until his death. The wife of Monoach, on the other hand, had divine inspiration in her words and said that he would be a nozir until his death, and although he may not have been permitted to have his hair cut, in fact, his hair would eventually be cut, shortly before his death, as we see in Shoftim 16:19.

QUESTION: We find the wife of Monoach who is also the mother of the prophet Shimshon taking a prominent role in the story of our Haftorah. What is her name?


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.

Jerusalem, Israel