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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 12: "Ma'kei ish vo'meis mose yumos" - The one who smites a man and he dies he should surely be put to death - Although Rashi comments that there are numerous verses discussing a murderer and surely each tells us new information, we find a very unusual sequence. Our verse tells of an intentional murderer, the next an accidental killer, and the next, again an intentional one. This deserves clarification. Shouldn't the Torah stick with intentional before it goes off to unintentional?

We can categorize intentional murder on two levels, premeditated and not premeditated. Obviously, premeditated is a more heinous crime, even though the Torah does not prescribe a greater punishment. Verse 14 clearly discusses premeditated murder, "V'chi yozid," - when one schemes, "v'ormoh," with cunning. Our verse, not mentioning these, is involved with somewhat spontaneous murder. Although there is no difference in beis din, nevertheless, the Torah surely wants to teach us a value system. This is why the Torah then jumps to accidental killing, which surely is a less severe crime. Finally, we have the premeditated crime, where the Torah adds that he is even removed from the altar. Although the same is true of the spontaneous murder, by mentioning it here and not there we receive the message of different levels of severity. (Toldos Yitzchok) It would seem logical for the Torah to grade these three levels in sequence of unintentional, spontaneous intentional, and finally premeditated. It is not clear according to this answer why this was not done. Perhaps, by intervening with "shogeg" the Torah teaches us that there is an immense difference between the two intentional acts.

Ch. 21, v. 12: "Mose yumos" - He shall surely be put to death - This is a poor attempt at translating the double expression. Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains that the double expression teaches us that not only should the person be put to death in an earthly court, but that he also has a death sentence from Above. Thus even if our court does not carry out the death penalty, Heaven will (see gemara Ksubos 30).

Ch. 22, v. 30: "Uvossor ba'so'deh treifoh lo socheilu la'kelev tashlichun oso" - And meat found in the field torn asunder you shall not consume throw it to the dog - The M.R. Vayikra 5:6 relates the following incident: Rabbi Yeivo said that there was an occurrence with a ritual slaughterer in Tzipori who unknowing to the community supplied them with meat that was "n'veiloh" and "treifoh." One eve of Yom Kippur he over-drank, became inebriated, climbed onto the roof of his home, and fell to his death. Dogs came and drank the blood that oozed from his shattered body. Rabbi Chanina was asked if his body should be placed in a safe place away from the dogs before his burial. He responded that they should leave him there and allow the dogs to continue their activities. Our verse juxtaposes the prohibition of eating non-kosher meat to giving it to a dog. "La'kelev tashlichun oso," also includes throwing the person who has brought this sin to the unwitting public to the dogs. They are eating what is rightly theirs.

Ch. 23, v. 3: "V'dol lo sehdar" - And an impoverished person you shall not glorify - The gemara Chagigoh 9b says that poverty is appropriate and becoming for a ben Yisroel (meaning that it advantageous in that it limits his drives for improper pursuits). However, this is the attitude when the situation is sent from heaven. We should not pray for this, as we find that there are disadvantages with being destitute. The gemara Eiruvin 41b says that abject poverty can easily bring a person to reject Hashem's wishes, and the gemara N'dorim 66a says that bnos Yisroel are attractive and it is only poverty that makes them repulsive. This is the intention of these words of our verse. Do not pray for poverty; don't glorify someone's being poor. (Divrei Yisroel of Modzitz)

Ch. 22, v. 30: "La'kelev tashlichun oso" - Throw it to the dog - The word "tashlichun" has a seemingly superfluous letter Nun at the end. This alludes to the gemara Shabbos 155b, which says that one should throw scraps of meat and bones to a stray dog in the desert, but in the city he should give it nothing, because it could become a great pest, always coming back for more. The mishnoh B.B. 25 says that when depositing non-kosher meat in a garbage heap, it should be at least 50 cubits out of the city. We thus see that the advice of the gemara extends to 50 cubits out of the city. "Tashlichun" has the added Nun to allude to the 50 cubits distance the "trifoh" meat should be distanced. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 23, v. 13: "Uvchole asher omarti a'leichem tisho'meiru v'shem elohim acheirim lo sazkiru" - And in all that I have said to you you shall safeguard and the name of foreign gods you shall not bring to mind - M.R. Breishis 48:8 says that after a person's death he is asked if he changed his given name to that of the pagan nations, names given to their deities, and if he answers in the negative, he then is brought to judgment for his worldly actions. Even if found guilty, Avrohom stands at the doorway to Gehinom and saves anyone who is properly circumcised.

The verse in T'hilim (119:162) says "Sos onochi al imro'secho," - I rejoice in Your words." The gemara Megiloh 16b says that this refers to the mitzvoh of circumcision. Rashi explains that "imro'secho" connotes this particular mitzvoh since we find that the first time it was commanded we find the term "amiroh," "Va'yomer Elokim el Avrohom v'atoh es brisi tishmor" (Breishis 17:9). We can find these concepts in our verse. "Uv'chole asher OMARTI," circumcision, "tishm'ru," you will be guarded from entering Gehinom. But this is also conditional upon "v'shem elohim acheirim lo sazkiru," that you have not changed your names to those of foreign gods. (Chasam Sofer)

Alternatively, the gemara P'sochim 8b says that a person who is involved in a mitzvoh will come to no harm, "shluchei mitzvoh einon nizokin." However, the gemara Kidushin 39b says that this protection is not available for one who has idolatrous thoughts at the time. "Uvchole asher omarti a'leichem," when involved with anything that I have told you to do, i.e. a mitzvoh, "tisho'meiru," you will be safe from harm, with one proviso, "v'shem elohim acheirim lo sazkiru," that you not have thoughts of avodoh zoroh at the time. (Chasam Sofer)

Ch. 23, v. 25: "VaavadTEM eis Hashem ElokeiCHEM uveirach es lach'm'CHO v'es mei'meCHO" - And you shall serve Hashem your G-d and He will bless your bread and your water - The verse begins in the plural form and ends in the singular. Serving Hashem can be classified in two areas, through spiritual activities, such as doing mitzvos, prayer, and learning, and through properly channeling our physical self-sustaining activities, i.e. eating and drinking.

It is obvious that the former is simpler to execute with the correct intentions, as the activities are intrinsically mitzvoh based. The latter activities are much harder to bring totally into the realm of mitzvoh, as they are natural human pursuits. To eat and drink only to keep ourselves healthy, alert, and strong to serve Hashem are daunting tasks. Thus our verse begins in the plural when mentioning "vaavadtem," as many can do this properly. However, when it comes to "lechem" and "mayim," eating and drinking "l'shem Shomayim," only unique outstanding individuals will fulfill this properly. (Rabbi Gedalioh Aharon of Linitz)

Ch. 24, v. 8: "Va'yikach Moshe es hadom va'yizroke al ho'om" - And Moshe took the blood and sprinkled it upon the people - After some of the nation sinned with the golden calf Moshe commanded that they remove their ornaments, "horeid ed'y'cho mei'olecho" (Shmos 33:5). The ornaments were their clothing that were blood-stained through this ritual covenant. (Rabbeinu Chananeil)



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

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