Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 16, v. 18: "Shoftim V'shotrim TI'TEIN L'CHO B'chol SH'ORECHO" - "Since this is a community responsibility, why is the mitzvoh expressed in the singular rather than the plural?"

2) Ch. 17, v. 1: "Lo sizbach .. asher yi'h'yeh vo moom" - You shall not sacrifice which WILL HAVE a blemish - Why doesn't the verse say, "asher bo moom," in the present tense?

3) Ch. 17, v. 6: "Al pi shnayim eidim o shloshoh eidim yumas ha'meis lo yumas al pi eid echod" - By the testimony of two witnesses or three witnesses shall the guilty person be put to death he shall not be put to death by the testimony of one witness - The mishnoh Makos 5b derives numerous insights from the juxtaposition of the two and the three witnesses. A footnote at the bottom of the page offers a different text in the mishnoh. Rather than citing our verse it cites Dvorim 19:15, which says, "Al pi shnei eidim o shloshoh eidim yokum dovor," and continues with all the derived insights of the mishnoh unchanged. Based on this alternative text, why would we not derive all the matters mentioned in the mishnoh from our verse, which appears earlier in the Torah?

4) Ch. 17, v. 6: "Yumas ha'meis" - Translated literally, these words read "the dead man should be put to death." What does this mean?

5) Ch. 21, v. 9: "V'atoH t'va'eiR hadoM hanokI" - Targum Yonoson ben UZiel says that upon completion of the "egloh arufoh" ritual a column of worms forms at the site of the killed calf and marches to the murderer. The commentator on Targum Yonoson found in most Mikro'os G'dolos says that this is alluded to in the final letters of "V'attoH t'va'eiR hadaM hanokI," which spell "rimoh," worms.

What would the outcome of such a happening be, as the "march of worms" is not a halachically viable testimony of acceptable witnesses?



The Mekubal, Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal answers that the Torah is teaching us that each individual is responsible to set up judges and policemen (safeguards) for the gates of one's body, i.e. eyes, ears, mouth, nose, to ensure that only that which is appropriate enters the "gateways" of his body.


1) The Sifri 16:8 derives from the word "yi'h'yeh," future form, that a blemish only disqualifies if it is a permanent one, one that will continue to exist.

2) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh suggests that we can also derive that if an organ of the animal has a disorder that can only be rectified by amputation, although the disorder is not yet a blemish in its own right, nevertheless, since the only treatment is amputation, we consider it as if the amputation has already taken place, and the animal is disqualified.


One of the laws established in the mishnoh is that when one of the group of three witnesses is disqualified by virtue of being a relative or through some other disqualification, although we seemingly still have two acceptable witnesses, we do not say that the testimony of the remaining two is accepted, but rather, that if any witness in a group, no matter how large, is disqualified, it negates the testimony of all the witnesses in that group. If we were to cite the earlier verse, which deals with capital punishment, "yumas ha'meis," we would mistakenly think that this ruling only applies by a matter of capital punishment because the verses say, "V'shoftu ho'eidoh, V'hitzilu ho'eidoh" (Bmidbar 35:24,25). The mishnoh says that from the latter verse we can derive this ruling even when applied to lashes or monetary matters. (n.l.)


This can be explained with the M.R. Eichoh 1:41. The M.R. says that the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim by its enemies was like "kimcho tchino tochanto," - grinding already ground flour, meaning that the sins of the bnei Yisroel have already destroyed the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim in a spiritual manner, thus allowing the enemies to destroy it physically. Similarly, we can say that there is a sanctuary, a life force, in each person, "V'osu li Mikdosh v'shochanti b'sochom" (Shmos 25:8). When a person sins he destroys the sanctuary, as per the above M.R., and extinguishes his life force. Thus when he is put to death, spiritually he is already a dead person.


1) Possibly, by identifying the murderer in this miraculous manner, further investigation would be done, and eyewitnesses might be found.

2) Perhaps something else would be accomplished even if this will not lead to prosecuting the murderer. Perhaps once we know who the murderer is it would be easier to find witnesses. The word "KA'PEIR" in the expression "Ka'peir l'amcho Yisroel" (21:8) is translated by the Riv"o as "DISCLOSE to your nation Yisroel," rather then the common translation, "forgive your nation Yisroel." The elders pray that after properly completing the "egloh arufoh" procedure they will merit to find out who the murderer is. We fear that a blood-avenger (go'eil hadom) will kill numerous people whom he suspects might have been the murderer. The elders therefore pray, "DISCLOSE to your nation Yisroel who the murderer is." Then the blood-avenger will not kill innocent people. Perhaps this is accomplished by the sign of the worms marching to the true murderer. Although halachically this is not binding proof, nevertheless, it stops needless killings.



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

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