by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS R'EI 5762 BS"D
Ch. 13, v. 16: "Ha'kei sa'keh ES yoshvei ho'ir" - You shall surely smite the inhabitants of the city - The Ramban writes that the Sifri says that the wives of those who sinned are killed along with their husbands as ancillary accomplices. However, the children of the sinner who are minors are not punished. (Surely children who have reached the age of majority are not punished, as they are not secondary to their parents.) He also quotes the Tosefta Sanhedrin 14:1 which states that R' Eliezer holds that ES teaches to kill even the children. Rabbi Akiva argues and posits that children are saved. The Rambam in hilchos avodoh zoroh 4:6 says to punish both wives and children of the sinner. The Pri Chodosh says that the correct text in the Rambam is that children are punished but not wives. This is neither like the Sifri, nor like the Tosefta. See Moreh N'vuchim 1:54.
The insight of the Ragotchover Gaon on the incident of the people of S'dom in parshas Vayeiroh was brought in Sedrah Selections 5759 and 5760. He posits that the city of S'dom was ruled as "ir hanidachas," which he bases upon the Tosefta Sanhedrin 14:1. Although we see there that both the children and the wives were destroyed, there is no proof that wives are punished as ancillaries to their husbands, as perhaps the wives were themselves guilty of idol worship. See the words of the Migdal Oz and Kesef Mishneh on the above-mentioned Rambam. The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh writes that sometimes children are killed to punish their parents the sinners. Although this might explain the position of the Rambam, it does not explain why the sinners' wives would be punished. As well, it seems that the punishment of sinners' children mentioned in hilchos teshuvoh is a Heavenly act, but does not explain why the court system here on earth would act that way. This point also weakens the proof from S'dom that children are punished along with their parents, as the punishment was Heavenly administered.
As far as the concern that the wives and children of the sinners have not been duly warned, a prerequisite to administering the earthly punishment of death, the GR"A in Shnos Eliyohu at the end of the final section called "likutim" writes that once we have established that the majority of the adults of the city have transgressed avodoh zoroh they are judged as bnei Noach, thus not requiring warning. The Kisvei Mahari"tz Chayos writes that the judgement of "ir hanidachas" is one of "mo'reid b'malchus," rebelling against Hashem ,where warning and other considerations, such as reaching the age o majority, are waived. Perhaps a different approach would be that the wives and children of people who are so steeped into avodoh zoroh would most likely be drawn into the sins of the head of the household and we punish them with the approach of "yomus zakai v'al yomus chayov," better to die earlier, prior to sinning than to die a sinner, the explanation given in the gemara for the killing of the rebellious son. I have no proof for this and as well there is ample room to differentiate between the two cases. This is all food for thought and any feedback on this subject would be greatly appreciated.
Ch. 14, v. 22: "A'seir t'a'seir" - You shall surely give a tenth - The gemara Shabbos 119a derives from these words, "A'seir bishvil shetisa'sheir," give a tenth so that you may become wealthy, a phonetically derived "droshoh" based on the letter Sin of "t'a'seir" being read as a Shin. The Medrash Plioh says that these words of our verse are the fulfillment of the verse, "Im hasmole v'eiminoh v'im ha'yomin v'as'm'iloh" (Breishis 13:9). Yalkut Eliezer explains this with the above-mentioned gemara. If one tithes properly by giving a tenth away, then he has done "t'a'seir," with the dot of the letter Sin appearing on the left side of the letter. Hashem will respond by giving wealth, "t'asheir," the letter Sin changing to a Shin with the dot on the right side, hence "im hasmole v'eiminoh." If however, a person does not properly tithe, and he attempts to have wealth by being stingy, and thus "t'asheir," Hashem will respond by having his fields produce in the future only a tenth of what it previously produced, "t'a'seir." This is the fulfillment of "v'im ha'yomin v'as'm'iloh."
The Botzino d'Nohoro says that the concept of "a'seir bishvil shetisa'sheir" is alluded to in Bmidbar 7:14, "Kaf achas asoroh zohov m'lei'oh." A hand that gives "achas asoroh," one out of ten, "zohov m'lei'oh," will merit to be filled with gold.
Ch. 15, v. 7: "Ki y'h'yeh v'cho evyon" - When there will be within you a destitute person - The choice of the word "v'cho," within you, indicates that the poor man is WITHIN you. This means that you were blessed with sufficient funds to help him out, and that his funds were placed into your hands to distribute to him. (Ohel Yaakov)
Ch. 16, v. 1: "Shomor es chodesh ho'oviv v'osiso Pesach" - Guard the month of the spring and you shall make Pesach - The Sforno explains these words to mean that we are commanded to continuously be on guard throughout the year to see to it that Pesach takes place during the spring season. This requires witnessing the emergence of the crescent of the new moon and calculating when it is necessary to add an additional month to the year.
Ch. 16, v. 8: "Sheishes yomim tochal matzos uva'yom hashvii atzerres" - Six days shall you eat matzoh and on the seventh day there shall be an ingathering/restraint - Although the seventh day of Pesach is mentioned as a Holiday three times earlier in the Torah, Shmos 12:16, 13:6, and Bmidbar 28:25, it is called either "chag" or "mikro kodesh." Why here, the fourth time the Torah mentions the seventh day of Pesach as a Holiday, is it called "atzerres" and not earlier? Perhaps with the translation offered by Rashi that "atzerres" means restraint from doing work, we can say that the previous times the information was given to the generation that left Egypt, and those people had almost all their needs taken care of for themselves miraculously in the desert. There was no need to plow, sow, water, harvest, nor to do laundry, prepare food, etc. Thus restraint from work was not very noticeable when Yom Tov came. However, for the generation that would enter Eretz Yisroel and work the land, the prohibition of doing work would be very pronounced. This, however, only explains the two verses in parshas Bo and not the verse in parshas Pinchos, which was related to those who would enter the land. A possible answer might emerge based on the words of the Kedushas Levi.
<< The Torah calls the day after Sukos "Atzerres" (Vayikroh 23:36). As well the seventh day of Pesach is also called "Atzerres" in our verse. Each Yom Tov has a positive action that is connected with the Yom Tov, i.e. blowing shofar on Rosh Hashonoh, repenting on Yom Kippur, taking the four species on the first day and residing in a Sukoh on all days of Sukos, eating matzoh, Korban Pesach, and moror on Pesach, etc. Even Shovuos has a positive mitzvoh of bringing the two loaves of bread as an offering to the Beis Hamikdosh to permit bringing further flour offerings from the new crop. However, Shmini Atzerres and the seventh day of Pesach have no inherent positive mitzvos, only the command to restrain from work. Hence having only restraint causes these particular days to be called "Atzerres."
After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh even Shovuos was left with no positive mitzvoh, only restraint. Therefore the Rabbis who lived after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh gave Shovuos the name "Atzerres." >> Rashi (gemara P'sochim 120a) on the first words of our verse, "Sheishes yomim tochal matzos," in his second explanation says that these words do not contradict the verse in Shmos 12:15, "Shivas yomim matzos tocheilu," because our verse teaches us that eating matzos throughout the seven days of Pesach is not obligatory (save the first night as indicated by the verse in Shmos 12:18, "bo'erev tochlu matzos"), but when one eats bread during Pesach it must be unleavened. Since we do not know this ruling until now, the Torah did not want to call the seventh day of Pesach ATZERRES in any verse earlier than ours, as this would indicate that its only characteristic is that it is a day of restraint from work, information that is unknown earlier as we had thought that there was an obligatory command to eat matzoh on each of the seven days of Pesach. Only after the beginning of our verse tells us that beyond the first night eating matzoh is voluntary, does the Torah call the seventh day "Atzerres," as only now do we know that there is only a mitzvoh of restraint from doing work on the seventh day of Pesach.
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