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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 5, v. 19: "V'hishbia osoh haKohein v'omar EL ho'ishoh" - And the Kohein shall administer the oath and say to the woman - Contrast this with the opening words of verse 21, "V'hishbia haKohein es ho'ishoh bishvuas ho'olloh v'omar haKohein LO'ishoh." The Tur asks why earlier we have "EL ho'ishoh," and later "LO'ishoh." He answers that the content of the words in our verse are words of explanation of what will happen is she is guiltless, and therefore he faces her while talking, hence EL. In verse 21 he relates what will happen if she is guilty, so he turns his face away and only directs his words to her, hence LO'ishoh.

Ch. 5, v. 21: "B'seis Hashem es y'reicheich nofe'les" - Toldos Yitzchok wonders how a guilty woman is willing to drink the waters, knowing that she will die a hideous death? (Perhaps she feels that she will not die for a while because of her numerous merits, as explained in the gemara Sotoh.) He answers that we must assume that she is a non-believer in the words of the Torah. Even if she was witness to other wayward women dying through this procedure, she assumes that the Kohein surreptitiously poisoned the water. Hashem knows the depth of intentions in each person, "Chofeis kol chadrei bo'ten," and since she is a non-believer, the verse therefore mentions her belly first. Her thighs are mentioned as well, as she has the audacity to come to the Mikdosh, knowingly flaunting the sanctity of the Torah. This might answer the following: With Hashem's making your thigh fall - The negative results of drinking the bitter waters are supernatural, and surely the special working of Hashem. If so, why stress this? We might well say, based on these words of the Toldos Yitzchok, that Hashem intervenes here in a supernatural way as a punishment for this non-believer.

Ch. 5, v. 21: "Es y'reicheich nofe'les v'es bitnach tzovoh" - Your thigh will fall and your belly will swell - Rashi comments that when the Kohein administers the threatening curse, he mentions the reaction of the thigh before that of the belly because if she sinned she first involved her thigh. In verse 27, which relates the results, the belly is mentioned first. Rashi there explains that since the bitter waters first enter her belly, they react first. Why didn't Rashi place this comment earlier, in verse 22, where it says, "Latzbos betten v'lanpil yo'reich"?

Mizrochi answers that, as Rashi points out in verse 22, these words seem redundant, and therefore we must say that it refers not to the suspected wayward wife, but to the adulterer, there is no seeming contradiction in the order. It is only in verse 27, telling us the results for the woman, where the order is switched around, that necessitates Rashi to explain.

It remains to be explained why when relating that the adulterer likewise reacts to the bitter waters, the order is switched from that of the warning for the woman. Perhaps it is because these words are not a warning for him, as he is not present.

Ch. 5, v. 22: "V'lanpil" - And to cause to fall - This word is spelled without the letter Yud between the Pei and the Lamed. It allows for a reading of "v'lanefel," and to the aborted fetus. This teaches us that we make her drink the bitter waters even if she is pregnant, and if she were to die, so would her unborn child, rather than waiting with this procedure until after she gives birth. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

Ch. 5, v. 23: "V'chosav es ho'ollos ho'eileh haKohein baseifer" - And the Kohein shall write these curses in a document - May this be written at night? Rabbeinu Zecharioh says that we equate "v'chosav" and "v'hishkoh" to "v'hikriv," the bringing of her offering. Just as the offering may only be brought by day, so too, the other procedures must be done by day.

Ch. 6, v. 27: "Vaani avoracheim" - And I will bless them - The antecedent of "them" is either the bnei Yisroel or the Kohanim themselves. In the gemara Chulin 49a we find that Rabbi Akiva cites as the source for the Kohanim themselves receiving blessing from the verse in Breishis 12:3, "Vaavorcho m'vorachecho." Rabbi Yishmo'eil the Kohein cites these words of our verse, saying that they refer to the Kohanim. They receive their blessing from Hashem for blessing the bnei Yisroel. Since Rabbi Akiva's proof is from much earlier in the Torah, why does Rabbi Yishmo'eil haKohein prefer to use our verse as the source?

The Magid of Dubno answers with a parable. A man ran a hotel in which he also offered meals for his guests. As he was barely scraping by financially, he had his own family served simple and skimpy fare, and this much earlier than serving his hotel guests. To draw customers he gave them lavish meals. One of his sons, feeling very deprived, had a shrewd idea. He tarried in school and arrived home well beyond the end of his family's suppertime. He then sat himself down with the guests, and his father had no choice but to serve him along with them.

This is the intention of Rabbi Yishmo'eil haKohein. If the source for the Kohanim's receiving a blessing would be from a verse not connected to the bnei Yisroel's blessing, their blessing would be meager, as they are Hashem's emissaries, and as such, would be distanced from physical blessings of this world. By finding a source for their blessing within the verse of the bnei Yisroel's blessing, it would put them at the "same table" as the bnei Yisroel, allowing for their receiving an equal level of blessing.

Ch. 7, v. 2: "Va'yakrivu n'si'ei Yisroel roshei beis avosom" - And the ministers of Yisroel offered they are the heads of the familial households - Rashi points out that they were the first to offer sacrifices for the Mishkon because they learned their lesson when they tarried in donating for the building campaign of the Mishkon. They said that they would fill any shortfall for the Mishkon. Although this is quite admirable, and the dream of any fundraiser, nevertheless, it means that they would only give their donation at the end. Almost everything was donated, and they were left with only offering the precious stones. After this incident they were quick to donate offerings for the Mishkon dedication.

Why indeed did they not realize that it is improper to tarry, even when making a magnanimous offer, as they did? Perhaps it was a result of their meriting to have their exalted positions because they were the ones who suffered corporal punishment when they were foremen overseeing the brick-making of their brethren in Egypt. When there was a shortfall, they were the ones who were battered. In this merit they became "n'siim." They therefore strongly felt the importance of not having a shortfall, be it in the brick quota, or anything else. They therefore applied this to the donations for the Mishkon as well. In any case, they learned that this concept should not be applied everywhere. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 7, v. 12: "Va'y'hi hamakriv ba'yom horishon es korbono Nach'shon" - And it was the person who offered on the first day his sacrifice Nach'shon - The next verse continues with, "V'korbono." Why is "korbono" repeated? (We might add another question: Why in our verse are the words "es korbono" separated from "hamakriv"?)

The Mo'ore Voshemesh answers that Nach'shon, being advised that he was to offer the first of the "n'siims" sacrifices, was devastated. He felt that he was undeserving to be the one to bring the first day's offering. This pained him greatly. This, in its own right, was considered by Hashem as his personal sacrifice. "Es korbono Nach'shon," his sacrifice was Nach'shon himself. (It is now well understood why the verse could not connect "es korbono" with "hamakriv.") The "korbono" of the following verse are the actual sacrifice and other offerings.



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

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