Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


1) Ch. 21, v. 1: "L'nefesh lo yitamo" - To a soul he shall not defile himself - This verse tells the adult Kohanim to be vigilant in seeing to it that the young Kohanim likewise not defile themselves. Why is there a stress on the special supervision for this prohibition more than for any other sin?

2) Ch. 21, v. 7: "Ishoh zonoh vachaloloh lo yikochu v'ishoh grushoh mei'ishoh" - A woman who is either a zonoh or a desecrated woman 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?

3) Ch. 23, v. 33: "V'ini'sem es nafshoseichem b'sishoh lachodesh" - And you shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month - Although the straight-forward translation of these words seems to be saying that we should fast on the ninth day of the seventh month, the gemara Yoma tells us that the exact opposite is true, that it is a mitzvoh to eat on the ninth day. This extreme departure from the simple meaning of these words can be explained from the cantillation. How?

4) Ch. 23, v. 43: "Ki vasukos hoshavti es bnei Yisroel" - Because in huts I have placed the bnei Yisroel - The "mesoroh" lists three verses that have the common word "ki." They are our verse, "Ki vorchove nolin" (Breishis 19:2), and "Ki ner mitzvoh v'Toroh ohr" (Mishlei 6:23). What is the thread of commonality that runs through these three expressions?

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?



No doubt, the Kohein has to train his children to not transgress any sin, but included in his overall training is the osmosis absorbed by placing his sons into a Torah observant environment. His sons' friends likewise abide by the Torah's rules. When it comes to not defiling oneself through a dead body, this component of training does not exist. The vast majority of his friends are not Kohanim and will defile themselves. Therefore there is a need for the Kohein to be extra vigilant in warning his sons to not defile themselves. (Oznayim laTorah)


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)


This is alluded to in the cantillation on the words 'b'sishoh lachodesh," which is "mahapach pashta." These names of the cantillation marks are literally translated as "The simple is overturned." The simple understanding of fasting is overturned and explained to mean that one should feast. (Rabbi Gavriel Gestetner of Szambatheli Hy"d)


The Chid"o in Pnei Dovid explains the connection. He relates that when he was a child an explanation for this "mesoroh" was asked of a "Chochom" and he gave no verbal response, but instead, wrote the letters Yud-Kof-Lamed-Mem-Nun-Samech-Ayin-Pei on a sheet of paper. Pnei Dovid explains that there are three mitzvos that require/involve placement of at least 10 handbreadths and no more than twenty cubits. They are Sukoh, that its walls be at least ten handbreadths tall, but no more than twenty cubits high, alluded to in our verse, "ki vasukos," "eiruv," that the placement of a visible object delineating the division between certain domains, a "koreh," (actually for "shitu'fei m'vu'os," but these terms are used interchangeably in the gemara Eiruvin) be placed between these same two distances, alluded to in "ki vorchov nolin," and Chanukah lights, that they too be placed at ten handbreadths (It is actually preferable according to most authorities to place the menorah below ten handbreadths down to three, but no lower, see Sh.O. Och. 671:6 and Mishnoh Vruroh #27.) from the ground and higher, but no more than twenty cubits, alluded to in "ki ner mitzvoh." This is the "mesoroh" connection.

We now come to the cryptic Yud-etc. message. It stands for "Yud Kosher L'maloh Mei'esrim Ner Sukoh Eiruv Posul."

I truly hope that this beautiful insight is enhanced and not marred by the following addition: The connection among these three mitzvos, each having the parameters of ten handbreadths and twenty cubits is actually found in the word "ki" itself. Kof has the value of twenty, while Yud has the value of ten. (Nirreh li)


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

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel