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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 15, v. 32: "EITZIM" - There are three opinions mentioned in the gemara Shabbos 96b as to exactly which act of Shabbos desecration had taken place, either transporting wood from domain to domain, or cutting wood, or assembling wood in the location of its growth. Tosfos on the gemara B.B. 119b d.h. "afilu" brings in the name of the medrash that Tz'lofchod, the Shabbos desecrator, had a noble intention. After the generation of those who left Egypt were advised that they would all die out in the desert as a result of their involvement with the sin of the spies, they felt that the laws of the Torah were not relevant to themselves any more, and only would apply to those who would enter Eretz Yisroel. Much desecration of Shabbos took place as mentioned in Yechezkel 20:13,21. Tz'lofchod decided that he would blatantly desecrate the Shabbos in front of witnesses and be executed for his sin.

Thus, at the cost of his life, he would show that the laws of the Torah and all accompanying punishments for transgression were applicable even to the earlier generation. Rabbi Yehoshua Kutner, the Yeshu'ose Malko, says that only the opinion of assembling of wood fits well with the word EITZIM in our verse according to this medrash. No doubt if he had in mind only to teach others that the stringencies of Shabbos were in affect he would keep his transgression of Shabbos to a minimum. For one of the other two "m'lochos" to be transgressed there is no need for more than one piece of wood, whether it was either carried or harvested. Only the assembly of an item at its place of growth, "m'a'meir," requires involving a few items, in this case EITZIM rather than just EITZ.

It seems that the words of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel contradict the words of the Yeshu'ose Malko. He also says that the Shabbos violator had in mind to teach the nation that the laws and punishments of Shabbos applied even to them and still translates "m'kosheish eitzim" as CUTTING down timber. The Shaar Bas Rabim finds an indication from the verse that the Shabbos desecrator had a positive "l'sheim shomayim" purpose in mind. When he was brought in front of Moshe the term used is "va'yakrivu" (v. 33) rather than "va'yoviu" (Vayikroh 24:11) as by the blasphemer who was also brought in front of Moshe for judgement. He says that "va'yoviu" indicates being brought against one's will, as we find regarding Vashti, "L'HOVI es Vashti" (Megilas Esther 1:11), while "va'yakrivu" means they brought him willingly. Perhaps there is a different reason for the change of expression. Possibly in both cases it was against their will, but "va'yoviu" means that they carried him, totally lifting him off the ground. The case of the blasphemer, if an outgrowth of his not being allowed to pitch his tent among any of the tribes, obviously did not take place on Shabbos. However, in our case of Shabbos desecration it may be assumed that he was brought in front of Moshe on Shabbos itself (This is the assumption of the Shvus Yaakov mentioned in the following offering.) and when a person resists being carried the ruling of "chai no'sei es atzmo," - a live being carries itself, does not apply (see Mishnoh B'ruroh 308:153). To avoid transgressing Shabbos by carrying the transgressor, "va'yakrivu" - they brought him close by holding onto him and leading him to Moshe, which is allowed on Shabbos (see gemara Shabbos 88b and 128b). However, according to the opinion that the blasphemer did his act as an outgrowth of his ridiculing the consumption of the "lechem haponim" which was a week old, it is also likely that this took place on Shabbos, and the proof of the Shaar Bas Rabim is strengthened.

Ch. 15, v. 34: "VA'YANICHU oso bamishmor" - The Ram"o in O.Ch. #339:4 says that we may not incarcerate a person on Shabbos Kodesh. The Shvus Yaakov asks that we see from our verse that the Shabbos transgressor was incarcerated on Shabbos. The Kerem Shlomo answers this question by comparing the term used here for incarceration with that in Breishis 40:3. There it says regarding Paroh's butler and baker "VAYI'TEIN osom b'mishmar." We can differentiate between VA'YANICHU and VA'YI'TEIN, the latter meaning that they were incarcerated, while "VA'YANICHU oso bamishmor" means "and they LEFT him under guard," but not locked up. This difference is quite logical if we say that the Shabbos desecrator went willingly to his death as mentioned earlier.

However, we find the same term by the blasphemer "va'yanichuhu bamishmor," although there is no reason to assume that he went to jail and to his death willingly, so he should have been locked up, not just placed under guard. As mentioned in the previous offering, there might even be an indication that he went to jail quite reluctantly by the use of the word "va'yo'viu" coupled with its taking place on Shabbos.

This whole problem is avoided by the Ibn Ezra who says that the Shabbos transgressor was placed into jail after Shabbos. No doubt he says this to avoid the halachic problem pointed out from the ruling of the Ram"o. While on the subject of terms used by the Torah for placing people into jail we also find the terms "va'ye'esof" in Breishis 42:17 and "yei'o'seir" in Breishis 42:19. Perhaps "va'yei'o'seif" is used when many people are "collected" and put into jail as is the case in Breishis 42:17, or alternatively, when many people are incarcerated in one cell or room, while "yei'o'seir" is used when indicating that one is also tied up in ropes or chains, as seems to be corroborated by T'hilim 107:10 and 107:14, "A'SI'REI oni u'varzel, u'mosroseihem y'na'teik." If we don't differentiate between "vayanichu" and "va'yi'tein" as does the Kerem Shlomo, we might say that "va'yanichu" is used when one is placed into jail for a short term, as it is obvious that the blasphemer and the Shabbos desecrator were both guarded or in a holding cell for a short period of time, as they were going to be judged within a day to comply with the halacha of "ein m'anin es hadin," we may not delay the judgement, while "va'yi'tein" by the butler and baker refers to placing them into jail for a long period of time. Alternatively, "va'yi'tein" might be used when placing someone into jail who is already your slave and under your control, as was the case with the butler and the baker, while "va'yanichu" is used when placing an otherwise free person into jail.

Ch. 15, v. 34: "Ki lo forash ma yei'o'se lo" - The Chizkuni and Tosfos on B.B. 119a d.h. "she'ne'emar" ask if they did not know which form of death penalty should be carried out, how did the witnesses warn him properly according to Rabbi Yehudoh (Sanhedrin 80b) who requires that the warning include specifically which death penalty the sin carries?

1) The Chizkuni answers that we must say that the witnesses warned that there is a possibility that any of the four types of death penalty might be exercised.

2) Tosfos answers that the death penalty in this case was a "horo'as sho'oh," a special directive that Hashem told Moshe.

3) The Margolis Ha'yam answers that the prerequisite of a specific warning is only required to remove the doubt that possibly if the transgressor would know exactly to which death penalty he is culpable he might refrain from sinning. Hashem told Moshe that He knows that this would not have been a deterrent.

4) Alternatively he answers that Moshe through his power of prophecy knew this and was able to carry out the death penalty. He adds that although there were prophets for many generations to come, they were not allowed to judge and administer justice through the power of prophetic knowledge. However, there are medrashim that indicate that Kings Dovid and Shlomo did use prophecy to decide who was guilty.

5) According to the simple understanding of Rashi that this sin took place before Matan Torah on the "second Shabbos," and indeed this is the opinion of the Sifri Zuto and is mentioned in the Yalkut Shimoni, where they state that it took place on the 21st (or 28th according to another text) of Iyor of the first year in the desert, although the prohibition against desecrating Shabbos was already given in Moroh, but the laws of specificity of witnesses' warnings was not yet given.

Tosfos on B.B. 119b d.h. "afilu" mentions a medrash that says that Tz'lofchod, the Shabbos desecrator, had a noble intention. After the generation of those who left Egypt were advised that they would all die out in the desert as a result of their involvement with the spies, they felt that the laws of the Torah were not relevant to them any more, and only would apply to those who would enter Eretz Yisroel. Mush desecration of Shabbos took place. Tz'lofchod decided that he would blatantly desecrate the Shabbos in front of witnesses and be executed for his sin. Thus, at the cost of his life, he would show that the laws of the Torah and all accompanying punishments for transgression were applicable even to the earlier generation. The Maharsh"a asks that if this were the case then he should not have been liable for the death penalty, as his intention was not to do the act for its own accomplishment, "m'lochoh hatzrichoh l'gufoh," but rather for an external intention, "mlochoh she'einoh tzrichoh l'gufoh," for which there is no death penalty. He says that although this is true, the witnesses did not know his intention and there is no reason to assume such a convoluted intention, so the court may rightfully execute him. This seems contrary to the words of the Margolis Ha'yam mentioned above. Perhaps Tz'lofchod knew this technicality of law and also had in mind a good use for the wood that he carried, or cut, or assembled. Another possibility is that this lack of proper warning was also included in the "horo'as sho'oh" mentioned in Tosfos B.B. 119a d.h. "she'ne'emar."

Ch. 15, v. 39: "V'ho'yoh lochem l'tzitzis" - The Ibn Ezra writes that it is more important for a person to wear tzitzis when he is done praying than during prayers. The tzitzis remind a person of all the mitzvos of the Torah, "u'r'i'sem oso u'z'chartem es kol mitzvos Hashem," and during prayer it is very unlikely for a person to sin. However, when he goes about his daily activities there is a much greater likelihood that he will sin, so he should wear his tzitzis all day. It seems that the concept of the Ibn Ezra is indicated by the word "lochem" which can be translated as "for your benefit" (See the first Rashi in Lech L'cho 12:1, "L'haanos'cho"), meaning while you are active in your personal pursuits. As well, this would explain why the Ibn Ezra points this out in this verse and not earlier in verse 38, where tzitzis are first mentioned.

Ch. 15, v. 39: "V'lo sosuru acha'rei L'VAVchem" - The gemara Brochos 54a derives from the word "L'VOVcho" in Dvorim 6:5 that one should serve Hashem with both aspects of his heart, the good inclination and the bad inclination. This is derived from the doubling of the letter Veis in the word "l'VoVcho," since it would have been sufficient to say "libcho." If we carry this through to our verse we should also derive from it that one should not spy out after his heart's two inclinations, the good and the bad. How are we to understand that one should not spy out after the good inclination? Possibly this can be explained with the words of the Malbim mentioned in last year's parshas Shlach issue. He differentiates among the synonyms "losur, l'ra'geil," and lachpor." He says that "l'ra'geil" means to spy out in search of the negative, while "losur" means to spy out the positive. According to this we can venture to say that the verse tells us that when we pursue a positive act, a mitzvoh, we should not search out the good inherent in the mitzvoh as the sole reason for doing it. This is dangerous because in certain circumstances one might conclude that the reasoning does not apply and then refrain from doing the mitzvoh. The main driving force to do a mitzvoh should simply be because Hashem commanded us to do so.

Ch. 15, v. 39: "V'lo sosuru acha'rei l'vavchem v'acha'rei eineichem" - Someone once leafed through the personal siddur of the GR"A and noticed that the GR"A had written in the margin on the side of these words in our verse, "M'shum maa'seh she'hoyoh," - because of a happening that took place. The Siach Zvi by Rabbi Z.H. Farber explains that the intention of the GRA was to answer a difficulty in the order of the words in this verse. Rashi on this verse says that the eyes and the heart are two agents for sin. The eye sees and the heart lusts. If this is the case, why does the verse not say "v'lo sosuru acha'rei eineichem v'acha'rei l'vavchem?"

The gemara M'nochos 44a relates that a man heard of a most desirable prostitute who lived far away. He sent her an enormous sum of money in advance for her services and then set out on the arduous trip. When they finally got together his tzitzis served as a reminder that he not sin. In spite of the great monetary loss and the difficult and lengthy trip, he controlled himself. As well, she repented. The GR"A derives from this story that one can have a lust stirred up by his heart even before the eye sees, when it comes to matters of this sort. This explains why the verse first mentions the heart and then the eyes, and this is the explanation of the cryptic notation, "M'shum maa'seh she'hoyoh," referring to the story in the gemara M'nochos.



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