by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS MIKEITZ 5761 BS"D
L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH Z"L HK"M
Ch. 41, v. 25: "Asher hoElokim oseh HIGID l'Pharoh" - Compare these words about the robust cows with what was said in verse 28 about the emaciated cows, "Asher hoElokim oseh HEROH es Paroh." Rabbi Shlomo Kluger in Imrei Shefer explains that it is natural to directly communicate good tidings. However, if it is necessary to convey negative news, an attempt is usually made to do so indirectly, so as to somewhat deflect the severity of the news. The dream of the seven robust cows portended seven years of abundance, hence HIGID, Hashem directly told Paroh. The dream of the seven emaciated cows foretold of seven years of famine, and this negative news is expressed as HEROH, shown, but not told directly.
In a similar vein, a nuance of change in expressions when Yoseif interpreted the dreams of the wine butler and the baker can also be explained. In 40:12 when responding to the dream of the wine butler the verse says "Va'yomer Yoseif," while in 40:18 when responding to the baker it says "Va'yaan Yoseif. The P'ninim Mishulchan Govoah says in the name of R' Moshe Landinski, the Rosh haYeshivoh of Radin, that the response to the wine butler was a positive one, as not only would his life be spared, but he would even regain his former position. This response required no prompting. Yoseif readily interpreted it, hence "Va'YOMER Yoseif." However, when it came to interpreting the dream of the baker, which had a very negative outcome, Yoseif was most reluctant to respond. Hence it is expressed in verse 18 as "Va'YAAN Yoseif," Yoseif RESPONDED, only when being pressed for an answer, and did not voluntarily reply.
Perhaps according to this line of reasoning a few other differences in the verses can be explained. Here in 41:25 we have "higid L'Pharoh," TO Paroh, while in verse 28 we have "he'roh ES Paroh." The letter Lamed indicates "directly to," while ES in verse 28 indicates a secondary form, not advising Paroh directly, since it was bad news. Also in parshas Va'yeishev, in 40:12 we have "Va'yomeir LO Yoseif," directly to him, and in 40:18 we find "Va'yaan Yoseif va'yomer," without the word LO, indicating that Yoseif answered, but not directly to the baker, seemingly talking to the air and allowing anyone to hear. Again, this is because he did not want to directly deliver the negative interpretation.
Ch. 41, v. 31: "V'lo yivoda hasovo bo'oretz mipnei horo'ov hahu acha'rei chein" - The placing of the words "achar'ei chein" at the end of the verse seems to indicate that during the time of abundance, the bountiful crop would not be appreciated because of the hunger that would come afterwards. If the intention of the verse was to say that there would be an abundance that would afterwards be forgotten because of the devastating famine following it, the words "acharei chein" should be placed at the beginning of this verse, stating "V'lo yivoda hasovo bo'oretz achar'ei chein mipnei horo'ov hahu." Another difficulty that can be raised is, if the bountiful years would be forgotten even at the end of the first year of famine as indicated in 47:18, "Vatitome hashonoh ha'hee," why in the dream were there seven emaciated cows that swallowed the seven robust ones with no noticeable change in their girth, indicating that seven years of hunger would eradicate any vestige of the plentiful years? Should not ONE COW have swallowed the seven cows, as the first year of famine eradicated all the memories of plenty of the previous seven years, albeit there should be seven emaciated cows in the dream to indicate seven years of hunger? Lastly, the well known question on this story: Yoseif was only asked to interpret the dream, but not to offer advice as to how to handle the situation, so why did he venture into a realm that was not his?
Rabbi Dovid Tevel, author of Nachalas Dovid, offers an answer to these three questions. As the Torah relates, the populace was required to put aside a portion of the produce during the years of bumper crops to assure an ample supply for the famine years. Our verse tells us that the concern for putting away a large amount put a severe damper on the consumption even during the years of plenty. This is why the verse places "achar'ei chein" at the end. The intention of these words is to say that even during the plentiful years "lo yivoda hasova." This also explains why in the dream there were seven cows that swallowed seven cows. This was not only to indicate that the hunger of later would eradicate any vestige of the plenty of earlier, but to indicate the concern lurking in everyone's mind about the impending seven years of famine, destroyed the enjoyment of the first seven years while they were living through those seven bountiful years, hence SEVEN COWS swallowed the seven robust cows. Lastly, since this was part and parcel of the dream, it indicated that there would be austerity even DURING the years of plenty, thus indicating that a strategy should be put into place to set aside much food for later, and as such is an intrinsic part of the dream, and not Yoseif's taking matters into his own hands and offering unasked for advice. The third question raised above, regarding Yoseif's offering advice, while he was only requested to interpret the dreams, has many answers. If anyone wants to submit answers, perhaps they would be posted next week.
Ch. 41, v. 38: "Hanimtzo CHO'ZEH ish" - The word CHO'ZEH seems to indicate that Paroh was pointing to someone else who was similar to Yoseif, or else the word CHOMOHU or CH'YOSEIF would have been used. The Medrash relates that Paroh's officers said that they would not allow him to elevate a jailbird to such a high position. Paroh countered by saying that Yoseif was from a family of high stature. He proved it by saying that in his private chamber he had a drawing in the likeness of Soroh, as when she was in Egypt, Paroh was quite taken with her beauty and had a likeness of her made. Yoseif, her descendant looked quite similar to his great-grandmother Soroh, and Paroh pointed to the drawing of Soroh, and expressed himself with CHO'ZEH, similar to this picture of Soroh. The Holy Zohar (Shmos pg. 29) writes that Paroh had a wooden statue made in the likeness of Soroh.
Ch. 41, v. 45: "Vayikroh Pharoh sheim Yoseif Tzofnas Paa'nei'ach" - It was a good thing that this idea entered Paroh's mind because otherwise if left as Yoseif, his brothers would have caught on to his identity. (A'keidas Yitzchok and Chasam Sofer)
Ch. 41, v. 45: "Vayi'ten lo es Osnas bas Poti Phera kohein On l'ishoh" - Why did Paroh become a match-maker? (This question is exacerbated with the knowledge that Yoseif had just emerged from jail and there was no hope of receiving even one penny for shadchonus.) The Rokei'ach gives three answers. (The no shadchonus payment is not part of his question.)
1) So that Poti Phera should not take him back as a slave. He would never do such a thing to his son-in-law. He adds that Poti Phera gave Yoseif a writ of freedom, emancipating him from further slavery.
2) This would remove any vestiges of negative rumours that Yoseif was guilty of making advances to the wife of Poti Phera. If it were true, the last thing Poti Phera would want is to have Yoseif as a son-in-law, giving him ample opportunity to spend time in his in-laws' home and again assault Poti Phera's wife.
3) So that people would accept Yoseif's leadership. Since he was known as a slave until now, it would be unbefitting for them to have him as a ruler. By marrying the daughter of such a highly placed minister, people would realize that Yoseif was of a high social stratum and was incorrectly sold as a slave.
4) The Oznayim laTorah offers answers 1 and 2 above and also offers another answer; to create the aura of Yoseif's bring a local citizen. He would not readily accepted as a person of authority if considered a foreigner. This would be alleviated if he were married to a local woman. This is indicated by the last words of this verse, "va'yeitzei al eretz Mitzrayim," after having married Osnos, a girl who grew up locally, Yoseif was able to rule over the land of Egypt.
Ch. 41, v. 54: "Va'y'hi ro'ov b'chol ho'arotzos" - "B'chol ho'arotzos," when taken literally, means "in ALL the lands." However, the M.R. 90:6 says that outside of Egypt only three lands were affected, Phoenicia, Arabia, and Palistinia. Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam writes in the name of (Rabbi Yishmo'eil) ben Chofni that "all the lands" refers to all the lands that had a climate similar to that of Egypt.
Ch. 42, v. 9: "M'raglim attem LIROSE es ervas ho'oretz BO'SEM" - We find the word LIROSE at the beginning of Yoseif's accusation that the brothers were spies, before the word BO'SEM. Compare this with Yoseif's reiterating his claim in verse 12, "Lo, ki ervas ho'oretz BO'SEM LIROSE," where the word LIROSE appears at the end of the accusation, after BO'SEM. The Rokei'ach answers this with the words of the M.R. 91:6 that the conversation between Yoseif and his brothers went as follows: Yoseif told them that through his divining with his unique goblet he became aware that they travelled to Mitzrayim as a group, and just before entering the city they split up, each entering through a different gateway. This is clearly indicative of espionage, as they wanted to scout out the city to see its weakest points of security, so as to allow for a successful attack. The brothers responded that they were all sons of one man (verse 11), and as such, their father advised them to not enter through one gateway, as they would be subject to an "ayin hora," an evil eye. Yoseif responded that he did not accept this excuse, as he also was apprised that they descended upon the brothel area of town, where the lowlifes come together and for a few dollars could easily be coerced into spilling the secrets of the country. Again this is an indication of espionage intentions. The brothers responded that they went there in search of a missing item, which they did not disclose. They made up their minds to attempt to recover Yoseif, and figured that in all likelihood he was sold to Mitzrayim, and if so would presumably have been put to use in a brothel, as he was strikingly handsome. They were not ready to admit this to Yoseif, and this circumstantial evidence stood against them.
The Rokei'ach says that we now understand the change in position of the word LIROSE in these two verse. The earlier verse was the claim that they entered through different gateways. This is expressed by "LIROSE es ervas ho'oretz BO'SEM." By coming through different entrances you have positioned yourselves to spy, even before entering the city, thus LIROSE before BO'SEM. In verse 12 Yoseif claimed that he had proof of their plans of espionage by virtue of their all going to the area of houses of ill repute. This happened after they had already entered, thus it is expressed as "ervas ho'oretz BO'SEM LIROSE," with their entry mentioned first.
Ch. 42, v. 21: "Avol asheimim anachnu al ochinu asher ro'inu b'tzoras NAFSHO b'his'chan'no ei'leinu v'lo shomonu" - If the brothers already felt pangs of guilt, why not for the sale of Yoseif, rather than the lack of response to his entreaties? Indeed, because of this question Rabbeinu Bachyei joins the camp of commentators who say that the brothers never sold Yoseif, but were only instrumental in his sale. Some "baa'lei mussar" explain this with insight into human nature, saying that even if one coldly calculates to even have someone killed, a most merciless act, when that person is a brother and begs for mercy, some reevaluation is in place.
The Ksav Sofer in his responsa O.Ch. # 137 has a completely different understanding of our verse. The M.R. Bmidbar 21:4 says that one who causes his fellow man to sin has done him a greater disservice than had he killed him. Sin destroys one's closeness to Hashem and his reward in the world to come, while killing a person only destroys his existence in this ephemeral world. This is why the gemara B.B. 8b says that all are responsible to help redeem a captured person, "pidyone shvuyim," as the captured person is kept among idol worshippers and will be exposed to their negative ways. The brothers originally planned to kill Yoseif, but later decided to have him sold as a slave to the Yish'm'eilim. This latter plan was more devastating than the former. "Asher ro'inu b'tzoras NAFSHO b'his'chan'no eileinu" means that he beseeched us regarding his NEFESH, his spirituality. If sold to the Yish'm'eilim he feared that he would likely lose his levels of yiras Shomayim, etc. And yet, we did not hearken to his plea, feeling that he only said this to save his physical life. They felt that this was their sin as they saw that a punishment in kind, midoh k'neged midoh, was unfolding when told that one brother would remain behind in Egypt as a hostage, thus exposing him to the depravities of Egypt.
This also answers a question raised by the Ramban in the following verse where we find Reuvaine saying "Ha'lo omarti ...... al techetu va'yeled v'lo shma'tem." He asks that we do not find Reuvaine ever having said these words. (I am surprised at his question, because he himself says that although we do not find earlier that Yoseif begged for his life, the Torah leaves out details in one place and fills them in in another.) Says the Ksav Sofer that since Reuvaine suggested that Yoseif be thrown into a pit (and according to the brothers' understanding be left there to die) he would have died without having been caused to sin by being sold into bondage and being exposed to sinners. This is what is meant by "al TECHETU va'yeled," do not have him sold and thus do not cause him to SIN. Perhaps we can add to this interpretation that the final words of the verse, "v'gam domo hi'nei nidrosh," mean that just as you admit that you were wrong in regard to Yoseif's spiritual murder that you caused, you might also be wrong regarding physically destroying him, "v'gam domo."
Ch. 44, v. 12: "Va'y'CHA'PEIS bagodol heicheil uvakoton kiloh" - Through the rule of "g'zeiroh shovoh," the use of the same words in two different subjects, we derive that a point of information that is clearly shown by one subject also applies to the second. The gemara P'sochim 7b proves that the search for chometz on the night of the eve of Pesach should be done with a single candle with a "g'zeiroh shovoh" of "m'tzioh m'tzioh, chipus chipus." One of the verses using the word form "chipus," searching, is our verse. The Maharsh"o asks why the gemara didn't use the word form "chipus" found earlier "Va'y'cha'peis v'lo motzo hatrofim" (31:35). 1) He answers that the gemara preferred to compare the word "yimotzei" to "va'yimotzei" rather than "motzo" to "yimotzei."
2) He offers a second answer. By comparing the finding of chometz to a verse in which the party was found guilty, as the goblet was discovered, we can derive that even after one has transgressed the sin of sour dough not being found in one's possession there still is a mitzvoh to search, while if derived from the search Lovon made and did not discover his idols, one would not know that there is a responsibility to search for chometz even during the time of its prohibition.
3) The Chasam Sofer (chidushei P'sochim 7b) answers that the gemara wants to bring a case of searching that is similar to the search for chometz, where one holds the candle and another does the searching. This was not the case by Lovon's searching for his idols. However, here where Yoseif sent Menasheh on Shabbos, as indicated by the words "u'tvo'ach tevach v'hochein" (43:16), that preparation was made on the eve of Shabbos and they left the next day (M.R. 92:4), "haboker ohr v'ho'anoshim shulchu" (44:3), Menasheh surely didn't hold a candle to illuminate the interior of their satchels, as he kept Shabbos just as his father Yoseif did (M.R. 92:4 and Tanchuma parshas Nosso #33). Obviously someone else must have held the candle while he searched. (Another indication that the pursuer kept Shabbos is the statement of the verse "lo hirchiku" (44:4), indicating that they had not gone beyond the "t'chum," the halachically prescribed boundary, of Shabbos, and Menasheh the pursuer was still able to reach them. Since this scenario most closely resembles the manner in which one searches for chometz, the earlier verse is not used. 4) The Chasam Sofer offers another answer. Since earlier the search was for idols, and if found Lovon would worship them, the gemara did not want to use that verse as a source, since the concept of idol worship is diametrically opposed to the searching for chometz and its eventually being destroyed, symbolic of destruction of idols, "l'haavir gilulim min ho'oretz."
5) The Tchebiner Rov answers with the words of the Ram"o on O.Ch. 432:2, the laws of searching for chometz. The Ram"o writes that there is a custom to place pieces of chometz in various places and include them in the search. (The Taz asks how this is considered a search, knowingly placing chometz.) Since the search for the goblet was for an object that was knowingly placed in a certain location, the gemara prefers to bring a verse that has a similar scenario as the search for chometz.
SEDRAH SELECTIONS HAFTORAS MIKEITZ 5761 BS"D
L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH Z"L HK"M
Almost always the Haftorah of parshas Mikeitz concedes to the Haftorah of Shabbos Chanukah. Since this year Chanukah ends as Shabbos parshas Mikeitz begins we read Mikeitz's own Haftorah, a rare occurrence. It is the famous story of a most strange case brought before King Shlomo to adjudicate, taking place shortly after he was promised great wisdom by Hashem (M'lochim 1:3:12). The Novi then recounts this most difficult case and how through his exceptional wisdom, King Shlomo brought the truth to light.
In short, two women dwelled together in one room and gave birth within three days of each other, each to a boy. The child of one of them unfortunately died. One woman claimed that when the other awoke at night and realized that her son was no longer among the living, she surreptitiously took her dead child and switched it with her own live child. The other claimed that it was not so, but rather, that the other woman's child had died, and that she was lying in an attempt to have the live child for herself. King Shlomo said that the way to resolve this in a "clear cut" manner was to bring him a sword. He proposed to cut the child in half and give each claimant half a child. One woman unequivocally said that the child should not be cut asunder and she would rather give up her child to the other woman. The second woman responded that she would go along with King Shlomo's suggestion. King Shlomo then said that the woman who adamantly refused to have the child physically divided was the true mother. All of Yisroel heard about the ruling of King Shlomo, and his reputation then spread far and wide (M'lochim 1:3:16-28).
There is a most difficult question that any logical reader should have with this story. Although "all's well that ends well" and "hindsight has 20/20 vision," and the false mother showed her true colours, but why did King Shlomo think that the false mother would fall trap into his ruse? Only an exceedingly dimwitted person would agree to have the child cut in two. Wherein lies King Shlomo's wisdom?
Three answers to this question are offered, each coming from a different vantage point. 1) An in depth analysis of the semantics of the litigants 2) Important background knowledge about the litigants 3) A totally new approach to what King Shlomo actually proposed when he said that the child be cut in two
1) If we pay close attention to the order of the claims of each woman we see that there is a switch in the order of the two points being claimed by each one. In verse 22 we find, "The other woman said, 'It is not as you claim, but rather my son is the live one, and your son is the dead one,' and this one said, 'It is not as you claim, but rather your son is the dead one, and my son is the live one!'" In the next verse King Shlomo verbatim repeats the words of both litigants, only adding on the word "zeh" in the beginning of the words of the first woman.
Perhaps ZEH is not part of the quote of the woman's words, but rather a prelude added by King Shlomo, similar to the Ramban's interpretation of LEIMORE, "accurately this." King Shlomo is pointing out to pay close attention to the order of the words, as herein lies the disclosure of who is telling the truth. Another possibility might again be that ZEH is not part of the quote, as we don't find ZEH in the woman's statement in the previous verse. King Shlomo is pointing out that the true mother who said "bni hachai" first, POINTED to the child. We find that ZEH indicates not only meaning THIS, but pointing to it as well, as in the gemara Taanis 25a, on the verse in Yeshayohu 25:9, "Hi'nei Elokeinu ZEH ...... ZEH Hashem kivinu Lo," which the gemara says means that Hashem's presence was so palpable that they pointed to it. As well, on the verse "ZEH Keili v'anveihu" (Shmos 15:2), the M.R. Shmos 23 in the last few lines says that the bnei Yisroel pointed to the almost perceptible presence of Hashem.
The child might have had a bit of similarity to his true mother's features and she was not afraid to accentuate this, thus pointing to him while saying that he was her offspring. Not so with the other claimant. She distanced herself from drawing attention to the child's appearance and did not point to him while she claimed that he was her child.
Returning to King Shlomo's repetition of their words, although the M.R. Koheles 10:18 in the name of Rabbi Simone and the gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 3:8 derive from this that a judge must repeat the gist of the words of the litigants to them to clarify if he properly understood their claims, as explained by the Pnei Moshe on the Yerushalmi and as recorded in Choshen Mishpot 17:7, but on a simple "pshuto shel mikro" level, what was the point of his repetition?
Perhaps in this lies the insightful wisdom of King Shlomo. Before he even suggested his test he already deduced from the words of the two women who the true mother was. When mentioning two matters, it is human nature to express oneself with the primary weightier matter first and the secondary matter only afterwards. This is pointed out numerous times by the Malbim in his commentary on Megilas Esther. The true mother had but one thing on her mind. I WANT MY CHILD! The woman who knew that her child was dead could not bring it back to life. Her driving force was her unwillingness to see her friend coddle, nurse, and bring up a child, while hers was dead. Her goal in appearing in front of King Shlomo was to stop the other woman from having a child while she would be left without one. Note that the woman mentioned earlier in verse 22 first mentioned that the live child was hers, and only afterwards stated that therefore the dead child must belong to her roommate. The second woman mentioned that the dead child was her friend's before mentioning that the live one was hers. All was thus revealed to King Shlomo and he therefore repeated these key words which revealed the truth. Only because it was a subtle proof did he go on to suggest the "cutting edge" test. Knowing that the false mother was so fixated on the OTHER WOMAN NOT HAVING A CHILD, he felt it was quite safe to assume that this crazed drive would even push her to the point that she would even agree to have the child killed, as long as the other woman would also not have her own live child, as indeed the false mother stated, "gam li gam loch lo y'h'yeh" (verse 26), thus showing her true colours.
2) The M.R. Koheles 10:18, Yalkut Shimoni M'lochim remez #175, and the Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim 72 mention an opinion that these two women were involved in a question of YIBUM. The M'iri in his commentary to Y'vomos 17b says that these two women were a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, and that both of their husbands were deceased, thus rendering them as candidates for "yibum" or "chalitzoh." It is in place to mention some laws of YIBUM, a levirate marriage. If there are paternal brothers and one of them dies without children, the wife of the deceased man may not marry just any man, as would another widow. Her brother-in-law must either marry her, i.e. perform "yibum," or if he does not want to marry her then the Torah calls for a ritual called "chalitzoh" where she removes his shoe from his foot and spits in front of him, proclaiming, "Such shall be done to the man who will not build his brother's house" (D'vorim 25:5,7,9), and she is then released to marry anyone. If the deceased husband does not leave behind a living brother his widow may marry anyone (Y'vomos 17b). As mentioned, "yibum" or "chalitzoh" only apply when a man dies childless. This is so even when a man once had children, but the children were no longer living at the time of his own death (Y'vomos 87b). However, if the deceased man left behind no living children but did leave behind another living descendant, i.e. a grandchild, he is not considered to be childless and neither "yibum" nor "chalitzoh" are done and the widow is free to marry anyone (Y'vomos 70a). This is true not only if the offspring was already born, but even if the offspring is still unborn but is a fetus at the time of the man's death, and his widow would be exempted from being bound to the living brother (Y'vomos 22b, 35b). However, this is only true when the offspring is viable, a "bar kayomo." If the fetus is stillborn or born alive but dies or is killed before remaining alive for thirty days, it is not considered a viable child and "yibum" or "chalitzoh" must be performed (Y'vomos 111b).
The next point of information is a most pivotal one when it will be applied to our story of the two women. If the brother of the deceased is a minor, "yibum" or "chalitzoh" must still be performed. The caveat is that we must wait until he becomes 13 years old for either of these two procedures, not a major issue if he would be approaching bar-mitzvah age at the time of his childless brother's demise, but a major problem if he is a newborn at the time of his brother's death, as either of these two procedures must be performed by adults (Y'vomos 105b). The widow would be LOCKED IN almost 13 years, waiting for either "yibum" or "chalitzoh," if her brother-in-law was a newborn at the time of her husband's death.
Let us return to the case brought in front of King Shlomo, armed with this information. The mother-in-law had no other children besides the baby boy in question, because if she did, she would not be subject to either "yibum" or "chalitzoh." As well, if she had another son, her daughter-in-law would be subject to "yibum" or "chalitzoh" by virtue of this other brother-in-law, unless the daughter-in-law convinced King Shlomo that the child was hers, giving her deceased husband the status of one who died leaving behind a child, and thus releasing her. The daughter-in-law had no other children or else she would not be subject to "yibum" or "chalitzoh" because her deceased husband left over this other child.
Now we can appreciate the ramifications of the outcome of King Shlomo's ruling. If the daughter-in-law would be judged to be the childless woman, she would not only lose the baby, but would also be subject to "yibum" or "chalitzoh." In this case it would be devastating, as the boy was a newborn and if he was the son of the mother-in-law, i.e. a brother-in-law of the daughter-in-law, she would have to wait 13 years for either of the two rituals to be performed. Although both gave birth to babies, they were less than thirty days old at the time that one of them died, not a "bar kayomo," as the verse indicates. The mother of the dead child would therefore be subject to the laws of "yibum" and "chalitzoh." This was the motivation of the lying mother, the daughter-in-law, to try to convince King Shlomo that it was her son, thus relieving her of either "yibum" or "chalitzoh" for two reasons. There is no brother-in-law of her deceased husband, and her husband did not die childless.
This is only true regarding the daughter-in-law. However, if it were the mother-in-law's child who had died, she would have no reason to claim her daughter-in-law's child as her own to exempt her from "yibum" or "chalitzoh." If her husband passed away before her son, the husband of the second woman, she is released from "yibum" or "chalitzoh," as her deceased husband died while leaving over a live child over the age of thirty days (Y'vomos 87a). Even if her son had passed away before her husband had, leaving him childless at the time of his death, she would still be exempt from "yibum" or "chalitzoh" for a different reason. The living child, even if he were not her own child, was still her son's son, and a grandchild also exempts her from "yibum" or "chalitzoh."
This does create a bit of difficulty for the M'iri who states that they were a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law, as only the daughter-in-law could possibly be a "y'vomoh," and the Medrash states that they were BOTH "y'vomos." We would have to stretch the intention of the Medrash to mean that they were both INVOLVED in a case of possible "yibum."
Only the daughter-in-law would have a compelling motive to falsely claim that the child was hers. If it was her son who died within 30 days from his birth, she would be bound to her husband's brother, this newborn boy, for "yibum" or "chalitzoh," which requires a wait of almost 13 years under the circumstances! King Shlomo with his phenomenal Divinely inspired wisdom grasped all the above. He realized that the only one with a compelling motive to lie was the daughter-in-law and that likely the child really belonged to the mother-in-law. In order to confirm this conclusion he ordered that the child be cut in two. If the baby would be killed this would accomplish a tremendous release of obligation for the daughter-in-law since the living baby was her one and only brother-in-law. Originally she hoped to convince King Shlomo that the child was hers and this would release her from "yibum" or "chalitzoh." Even though she knew that in fact she was not free to marry whomever she wished, as this was not her child, she was either willing to sin as long as she wasn't bound for thirteen years, or perhaps, she would conveniently arrange for him to later "die." King Shlomo's suggestion played wonderfully into her hands, she thought, as by killing this child it would truly release her of any halachic obligation, as there would be no brother-in-law to tie her down to "yibum" or "chalitzoh."
Now we see why it was logical for King Shlomo to think that she would fall for his plan and agree to have the child killed, and he thus exposed her as the liar that she was.
3) The Moshav Z'keinim offers a new interpretation of King Shlomo's suggestion into cutting the baby in half. Although the verse indicates that King Shlomo's wisdom became widespread knowledge after this incident (M'lochim 1:3:28), nevertheless we have an indication that he let it be known that Hashem had bestowed upon his a great measure of Divine wisdom when he came to Yerusholayim in front of the Holy Ark and offered many sacrifices and held great festivities in appreciation of the great gift he had received, extreme wisdom.
Given this reputation, King Shlomo said that he could not conclude as to who was the truthful woman and offered to dissect the baby in such a manner that each part would remain alive, recovering from the procedure. Although no one had ever heard of such a thing taking place before, King Shlomo with his reputation as the most knowledgeable of all men stated that he could do it, a first in the Guiness World Book of Records.
The bereaved mother readily agreed, as she had no great compassion for the child who was not really the fruit of her womb. She gullibly believed King Shlomo and felt she had nothing to lose. The true mother, however, reacted as any true mother would. She said that she did not rely on King Shlomo's wisdom to perform such a delicate procedure successfully, and stated that she would rather give up the child to the other woman than to so greatly risk his life. I believe that this interpretation of the Moshav Z'keinim can be found in the above-mentioned M.R. Koheles 10:18 as well as the other Medroshim mentioned above. It first brings the command of King Shlomo to sever the child in two, and then states that King Shlomo flowed with wisdom saying, "Did Hashem create man with two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, two hands, two feet per person if not for His seeing into the future that this case would happen?" These words seem to have no meaning, nor relevance. It seems that the Moshav Z'keinim understood this to mean that King Shlomo said that he was capable of severing the child in two, leaving over in each one of the children one of the above-mentioned organs, and both children would be viable. Thus he expected the false mother to accept this offer.
An independent interesting aside: There is an opinion that King Shlomo actually planned to carry through and have the child cut in half. After the statement of the Medrash that King Shlomo flowed with words of wisdom the Medrash reiterates the words in the Novi that King Shlomo commanded that the child be cut in two. The Medrash then continues, saying in the name of Rabbi Yehudoh b"R Ilo'i that had he been present at the court hearing he would have taken a cord of wool and strangled King Shlomo for doing this. (This is in compliance with the gemara Sanhedrin 84b that a judge who rules improperly deserves the punishment of "chenek.")
Why was Rabbi Yehudoh b"R I'lo'i's statement not placed earlier, the first time it was mentioned that King Shlomo said to cut the child in two? It seems that until the Medrash mentioned the idea of double organs it was understood that King Shlomo never planned to have the baby killed. Only when the new concept of double organs was mentioned, which indicated that he planned to have the baby cut in two vertically and leave over one of each organ in each half, did Rabbi Yehudoh b"R I'lo'i understand that he actually planned to carry through, with his expectation that each half would be viable. It was only at this point that Rabbi Yehudoh b"R I'lo'i responded so sharply.
I'd like to leave you with a question. We see from the explanation of the M'iri that King Shlomo's decision of who was the true mother encompasses more than just child custody, as he ruled that the daughter-in-law required "yibum" or "chalitzoh." However, according to the two other explanations of King Shlomo's ruling, was it halachically decided who the baby's mother was regarding all matters, i.e. regarding restriction of marriage to relatives, ch"v hitting a parent, inheritance, status as a Kohein, Levi, or Yisroel, or only a decision regarding child custody?
The Sfas Emes wrote that there are so many opinions explaining the sin of Moshe at Mei M'rivoh (Bmidbar 20:7-13) because it is beyond us to comprehend Moshe's sin. If we mere mortals would be capable of grasping the sin of Moshe, the holiest of all men, he surely would not have fallen victim to it. Similarly, we might be able to say that there is much work involved to comprehend the intention and wisdom of King Shlomo, as he was the wisest of all men.
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