Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 21, v. 7: "Ishoh zonoh vachaloloh lo yikochu v'ishoh grushoh mei'ishoh" - A woman who is either a zonoh or a desecrated and a woman who is divorced from her husband - When the Torah lists the women who are prohibited to a Kohein Godol the order of these three women is reversed, "ugrushoh vachaloloh zonoh." Why?

2) Ch. 21, v. 9: "Es ovihoh hee m'cha'le'les" - Her father she profanes - Why is all the blame placed on the father, and none of it on her mother?

3) Ch. 22, v. 27: "Shor o kesev o eiz" - Why is an ox mentioned first of all the animals which are acceptable as a korbon?

4) Ch. 24, v. 10: "Va'yeitzei ben ishoh Yis'r'eilis" - And the son of an Israelite woman went out - Rashi (M.R. 32:3) asks, "From where did he leave?" Rashi answers that he left from the previous parsha of the 12 showbreads. He ridiculed the statement in verse 8 that fresh bread is offered once a week only, on Shabbos. He mockingly asked, "Does a king eat freshly baked warm bread daily, or week old bread?" Although this is insolence of the highest order, why is it called blasphemy?

5) Ch. 24, v. 22: "Mishpat echod yi'h'yeh lochem ka'geir ko'ezroch" - One law there shall be for you the same for the convert the same for the citizen - Verse 10 begins the tale of the blasphemer. It ends with verse 23, where the Torah relates that he was put to death. It is most unusual for the Torah to interrupt this with the laws of injuring and killing of people and animals. Although commentators explain this, for example: Hashem told Moshe that he who blasphemes Hashem is put to death, and hand-in-hand with this was told that Hashem likewise respects the bnei Yisroel and if they are either injured or killed retribution is likewise extracted, be it the death penalty or monetary payment, but it would seem that it would suffice to state this in a separate parsha, immediately following ours, to show the connection. Why is killing and injuring plunked down right here, without even a dividing parsha space, and a mere one verse before the completion of the blasphemer story?



This is because our verse logically begins with the most obvious, the woman with the greatest blemish, the harlot, then a woman who is tainted by being born from a union of sin, and finally, a woman who was divorced. By the Kohein Godol the Torah begins the list with the "chidush," the added prohibition over a regular Kohein, the widow. She has the smallest blemish. Once we begin this list with the woman with the smallest blemish, we follow through with the smaller blemishes up to the greatest. (Tur in the name of his father the Rosh)


The Kohanim were the elite of the bnei Yisroel and readily found wives. They could easily choose an exceptionally moral spouse. Even if the mother had a bad influence upon her daughter, which is indeed a likelihood, nevertheless, the father is still to blame for choosing an improper wife.


The Baalei Tosfos in Hadar Z'keinim says that since the gentiles say the blemish of the golden calf is so potent, Hashem will never forgive the bnei Yisroel, Hashem placed the ox first among the korbonos to indicate that it can even be used as an instrument to help bring about atonement.


The answer is that one who involves himself with matters that are in Hashem's realm, i.e. what Hashem wants to be offered to Him, is stepping beyond the pale of acceptable pursuit of knowledge of Hashem. This never brings to greater understanding and better service of Hashem. Indeed, when the bnei Yisroel carried out the death penalty, the Torah stresses that they did this "kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe," simply to fulfill the command of Hashem without philosophically questioning matters. (Rabbi Noson Novodvarer)


Possibly, we might say that if one were to read this story he would wonder, "Although he transgressed a very nasty sin, nevertheless, why was this person put to death? After all, all he did was say something, not do something." He might come to the incorrect conclusion that the bnei Yisroel were quick to spill this man's blood because he was a convert (see Rashi on verse 10 d.h. "b'soch"). Therefore the Torah tells us specifically just before the verse that relates his being put to death, the laws of injuring and killing your fellow man. This concludes in our verse with "kaGEIR ko'ezroch," that the convert is on an equal footing with the person who was born Jewish. If you kill the convert you will be put to death. If you injure him you must pay. If you damage his property you must likewise pay. This is part and parcel of the parsha. Immediately after hearing this, the bnei Yisroel put him to death, fully aware of the gravity of the life of a convert. This might be why verse 23 says they carried out the death penalty "kaasher tzivoh Hashem es Moshe," referring also to the command to hold dear the blood of a convert. See Sforno on verse 23. Perhaps he alludes to this insight.



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

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