Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 16, v. 5: "Shnei s'i'rei izim l'chatos" - The M.R. Breishis 65:14 says that in the merit of the two goats that Rivkoh requested Yaakov to serve his father Yitzchok, he would receive the blessings, and the b'nei Yisroel would benefit in the future from the forgiveness brought about through the sacrifice of two goats on Yom Kippur, as per our verse. What is the connection?

2) Ch. 16, v. 8: "V'gorol echod laazo'zeil" – Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #46 says that this offering is a "bribe" to Satan. This is most puzzling since the M.R. Vayikra 21:4 says that "hasoton," spelled Hei-Sin-Tes-Nun, has the numerical value of 364. This alludes to the fact that Satan only wields power on 364 days of the year, but not on Yom Kippur. If so, what need is there to bribe him on Yom Kippur?

3) Ch. 17, v. 3: "Ish ish" - This term is mentioned four times in quick succession, here (according to Rabbi Yishmo'eil in the gemara Z'vochim 107a) regarding the laws of not slaughtering a non-sacrificial animal (chulin) outside the Mishkon while the bnei Yisroel were in the desert (Ramban), in verse 8 regarding the prohibition of offering a sacrifice on an altar outside the Mishkon/Beis Hamikdosh, in verse 10 regarding the prohibition of ingesting blood, and in verse 13 regarding the requirement to cover the blood of a slaughtered bird or undomesticated animal. In all four places Targum Yonoson ben Uziel translates "ish ish" in a most unusual manner. He says that these words mean "a YOUNG man or an OLD man." How do we explain the Targum’s explanation?

4) Ch. 18, v. 19: "V'el ishoh b'nidas tumosoh lo sikrav" - Not only is it prohibited to have physical relations with a woman who is impure by virtue of menstruating, "nidoh," but even doing acts that bring one close to having such relationships is prohibited, as indicated by the words LO SIKRAV. The gemara Shabbos 13a-b in the name of the Yeshiva of Eliyohu relates that there was a young Torah scholar who died quite prematurely. His wife brought his tefillin to the Beis Hamedrash, the Torah study hall, and said, "My husband who learned Torah and served Torah scholars throughout his life has died at a very young age. Why did this happen?" No one was able to give her an answer. At a later date Eliyohu had occasion to stay in the home of the widow. He asked her about her relationship with her husband while she was in the state of "nidoh," when marital relations are prohibited. She responded that they kept the laws meticulously and never had relations. She added that during the days that she was still in a "nidoh" status and preparing for purification, "y'mei libun," they did sleep on the same bed, and the gemara explains that either the bed was very wide and they did not lie close to each other, or that she was well covered with a garment. Eliyohu pronounced, "Blessed be the Righteous Judge who was not swayed by this man's many merits. It is prohibited to even share a bed when one's wife is a "nidoh," and Hashem rightfully punished him."

One question raised on this story is why did Eliyohu specifically ask about marital matters. (Perhaps he actually raised many questions and eventually hit upon the one that gave him an understanding of Hashem's judgement, and the gemara only related that which was relevant.) Another question asked is why did she bring his tefillin along.

5) Ch. 19, v. 9: "Lo s'cha'leh PAS sodcho" - Years before the Holy Admor of Gur, the Imrei Emes, immigrated to Eretz Yisroel he visited the Holy Land and among his stops was the famous Yeshivas Eitz Chaim. He noticed that the students were studying mishnayos Pei'oh. He raised the following question. The Torah prohibits cutting of one's "pei'ose" later in our parsha, "Lo sakifu PAS rosh'chem" (19:27). The prohibition is on cutting either of TWO "pei'ose." Yet here, the exact same word PAS is used, and the mitzvoh is to leave over but ONE corner. This question created quite a tumult in the Yeshivah with numerous answers being suggested. This question was asked much earlier by the Radba"z in his commentary on the Rambam hilchos matnas aniim 1:1.


The Beis haLevi answers that there was a strong disagreement between Rivkoh and Yaakov whether to even attempt to wrest the blessings from Eisov by tricking Yitzchok (see M.R. Breishis 65:15). Yaakov felt that since the blessings were for material success (There are commentators who posit that the blessings were spiritual in nature.) he should not pursue them. The future generations would be better off with limited material opportunities, while wealth might otherwise distract them from their goal of pursuit of spirituality, as explained in the gemara Chagigoh 9a on the verse in Yeshayohu 48:10, "I have chosen you for the crucible of poverty."

Rivkoh felt that although Yaakov was basically right, there are two important benefits that could be realized with having material success. One is that many mitzvos can only be fulfilled if one has the funding for them. The other advantage is that if one has been granted the blessing of material success, if deprived of it, it is to be considered a punishment, and would be an atonement for some sins (gemara Bovo Basro 9a). The Beis haLevi compares ownership of material wealth, which should not be a goal unto itself, to possessions from which one may not derive benefit, by virtue of a self declared vow. Yet, two benefits may be derived. One is that the object may be used for a mitzvoh (see gemara Rosh Hashonoh 28a). The second benefit is that the object may be used to pay a debt (see gemara N'dorim 33a). With this approach, Rivkoh persuaded Yaakov to attempt to receive his father's blessings.

We know that long-term success in any matter requires a source of sanctity to maintain it. What is the source for the material success of the 70 nations? (There are medroshim which say that the 70 oxen of the mussof sacrifices of the 7 days of Succos, Bmidbar 29:14-32, are the source.) The Beis haLevi says that its source is the scapegoat of Yom Kippur which is sent down a precipice. Its laws seem contrary to all laws of sacrificing at the Beis Hamikdosh. It is not slaughtered in the normal ritual manner that even animals that are "chulin," non-sacrificial animals, are slaughtered, nor are any other normal blood offering procedures followed, i.e. its procedure is done outside the Mikdosh compound, there is no receiving of blood in a holy vessel, nor placing of blood onto the altar. This is because it is a quasi-sacrifice, its benefit being for the nations of the world, which doesn't allow for it to be processed in the Beis Hamikdosh compound in the normal fashion. Why is this sacrifice brought specifically on Yom Kippur?

He answers that since the dominant theme of Yom Kippur is to receive atonement for our sins, we specifically bring a sacrifice that brings success for the nations to have material wealth. Since we are entitled to material blessings, our willingness to relinquish them, and even bring a sacrifice to that end, creates atonement for the bnei Yisroel. This would not be so if Yaakov had not received the blessings, and had not had a claim of ownership of the material world. This is the connection in the M.R., that the goats which would facilitate Yaakov's receiving the blessings would bring about an atonement through the scapegoat of Yom Kippur.

We find that Eisov comes at the moment of the completion of Yaakov's receiving the blessings, and that he bitterly screams for a blessing from his father. His father gives him what is seemingly a blessing that is very similar to that of Yaakov (Breishis 27:39). If so, why did Eisov harbour a burning hatred for Yaakov for so many years? The Beis haLevi says that we actually find that the Holy Zohar addresses this question (vol. 1, page 143b). He answers that there is a critical difference between the two. Yaakov's blessing is worded "v'yitein, and Hashem will GIVE you" (27:28), while Eisov's is worded "y'h'yeh, IT WILL BE" (27:39). The Beis haLevi explains that Yaakov actually was the RECIPIENT and OWNER of the blessings. Eisov was told by Yitzchok, who saw through prophecy that the bnei Yisroel would not be worthy in later generations and would have to relinquish some of their material possessions to the bnei Eisov, that he would end up receiving Yaakov's blessings, thus the fulfillment of "y'h'yeh." Eisov wanted actual rights to this, and was not satisfied with it only being passed on to him. He therefore hated Yaakov.


The Sha"ch answers with a parable. When a highly placed minister receives a present, a.k.a. a bribe, although he is somewhat appreciative of the gift, he full well knows that it was given to move him to do a favour, etc. However, if he is deposed and then receives a present, he truly appreciates it, and is exceptionally grateful for the gift. We therefore give Satan a present on Yom Kippur, the day that he is powerless, so that he will be kinder to us throughout the rest of the year.


An attempt will be made to explain three out of four of these verses (3,8, and 13) based on the idea that a YOUNG man means a person who is strong, while an OLD man refers to a person who is frail and has limited physical strength.

1) Verse 3 - Not eating meat which is not sacrificial (chulin) while the bnei Yisroel were in the desert - The gemara Chulin 17b says that "chulin" meat was prohibited in the desert because all of the bnei Yisroel were relatively close to the Mishkon as the encampment was but three "parsoh" square, approximately 9 miles square according to some opinions. When they would live in Eretz Yisroel, Hashem did not burden them to travel great distances to the Beis Hamikdosh to have their animals slaughtered as sacrifices. He therefore allowed them to slaughter non-sacrificial animals. Possibly, since an OLD man finds it difficult and quite time consuming to walk distances that are easily and speedily traversed by a YOUNG man, one might think that his situation is similar to that of a person later living in Eretz Yisroel who lives quite a distance from the Beis Hamikdosh who is allowed to have "chulin" meat. The Torah therefore repeats the word "ish" to include even an OLD man in this prohibition.

2) Verse 8 - Not offering a sacrifice on an altar outside the Mishkon/Beis Hamikdosh - The gemara Z'vochim 108a derives from the words "ish ish" that if two people together place a sacrifice on an altar outside the Mikdosh, both are liable for punishment. This is not the case with two slaughtering a sacrifice under the same circumstances, where instead neither is liable. This is the ruling of the Rambam in hilchos maa'sei hakorbonos 19:12 as well. Tosfos Rabbi Akiva Eiger on mishna'yos Z'vochim 13:101 raises the question of both being liable only when neither was able to elevate the sacrifice on his own, which is obvious from the gemara Kidushin 43a, or if even a person who is able on his own is also liable, in spite of the sin being done in an unusual manner, joining with someone who is not needed. He derives from the commentary of the Ritv"o on the gemara Kidushin 43a that in all circumstances a partner in this sin is liable. See Minchas Chinuch mitzvoh #440.

Perhaps this is why Targun Yonoson ben Uziel says "A YOUNG man and an OLD man," to indicate that even the YOUNG man who is quite strong and able to do this sin on his own, as indicated by his partner in crime being an OLD frail person, is still liable.

3) Verse 10 - The prohibition of ingesting blood - The Toras Kohanim 14:1,2 includes in this prohibition many types of people, including a person whose father was not Jewish, a male convert, a female convert, etc. For each of these types another word or expression is needed to include them. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh asks, "Why is it necessary to have a separate indication for each type of person, for example the inclusion of a female convert? We derive from a verse in the Torah that males and females are equally included in all Torah prohibitions unless there is a contra-indication. He answers that the underlying reason for the prohibition of ingesting blood is that it brings into one's soul a coarseness and earthiness that draws one closer to pagan gods, "s'irim," as their practice was to sacrifice and leave the blood lying about, rather than having it washed away after a sacrifice. He says that each type of person included in the prohibition has a different spiritual level. Without a special inclusive expression we would think that the prohibition is limited to the higher class of people to whom the ingestion of blood would be more damaging.

Perhaps, this is why the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says "A YOUNG man and an OLD man," to indicate that the prohibition of ingestion for a convert includes even an elderly person who has ingested blood for many years and has already caused a descent in his spiritual being. We might think that he would not be prohibited to ingest blood even after converting, as per the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh. Therefore it is necessary for the Torah to add the second word "ish" to include him.

4) Verse 13 - "Kisuy hadam," covering the blood of a slaughtered bird or undomesticated animal - The Toras Kohanim _ _ says that the mitzvoh to cover the blood of a slaughtered bird or undomesticated animal is not limited to the case of when it was captured, as indicated by the words "asher yotzud," but rather includes when it was purchased or simply being raised by the owner. This is derived from the words "ish ish." This seems most problematic. Shouldn't this be derived from "yotzud tza'yid," a double expression indicating inclusion of a case where there was no capturing done? Indeed the gemara Chulin 84a includes domesticated birds such as chickens from the word "tza'yid." How is this derived from "ish ish?"

Perhaps this is why the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says "A YOUNG man and an OLD man." An old person who is frail is unlikely one who is capable of capturing an undomesticated animal. Even if he sets a trap, it still requires strength, agility, and dexterity, traits that are usually lacking in an OLD person, to release the captured animal from the trap and tie it up so that it does not escape. This might be why a non-captured animal is specifically derived from the words "ish ish," which includes an OLD man.


I heard an answer to both of these questions from R' Y.E. He feels that this story is connected with another one brought in the gemara Brochos 23a. The gemara relates that a young Torah scholar was wearing his tefillin, as was the custom to wear them all day long. He had the need to use bathroom facilities, and since it is inappropriate and prohibited to bring his tefillin into the bathroom, he removed them and left them outside, as "halacha" mandates. A harlot passed by and saw him remove his tefillin before entering the bathroom. When he had entered she took his tefillin and publicly announced that the scholar hired her services and gave her his tefillin as payment, "esnan zonoh." The young man was mortified and his embarrassment was so great and painful that he climbed a tree and fell off it to his death.

R' Y.E. suggests that the man in the story in the gemara Brochos is one and the same as the man in the gemara Shabbos. We now have both our questions answered. The woman brought his tefillin along with her not to strengthen the question of why he died if he kept mitzvos meticulously, as there are many other mitzvos as well. Rather she brought them to question why her husband's being meticulous to wear tefillin all day and respecting their sanctity by his removing them before entering the bathroom brought about his death. The Torah sage rightfully asked about her marital relations with her husband since Hashem punishes in kind, "midoh k'neged midoh." Since his death came about through a false accusation regarding sexual matters, this indicated to Eliyohu that the man was lax in the realm of marital relations.


An answer to this question can be found in the Ritv"o in his commentary on gemara Shvuos 2b d.h. "v'al hazokon." He says that a field need not have any specific shape. There might not be any corner at all if it is circular in shape. It might have many corners. Thus it is obvious that the intention of the Torah is that an edge be left over. The contour of the hair on everyone's head has two sideburns. Thus there are automatically two corners of hair on everyone's head. It is obvious that the intention of the Torah in this case is to prohibit cutting either corner.



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

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