Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 21, v. 18: "U'moreh" - This word appears with a vav, "mollei." In verse 20 the same word appears "chosser" (without a vav between the mem and the reish). Why the difference?

2) Ch. 21, v. 21: "Urgomuhu kol anshei iro voAVONIM" - Here we find the stoning being expressed as being done with stones, plural. In Vayikra 24:23 by the stoning of the blasphemer we find the words "va'yir'g'mu oso OVVEN," a single stone. By the stoning of the Shabbos violator in Bmidbar 15:36 we find "va'yir'g'mu oso bo'AVONIM," with stones, in the plural. Why the differences?

3) Ch. 23, v. 5: "Va'asher SOCHAR olecho es Bilom" - Why does the verse stress that Moav HIRED Bilom? Had he been willing to work for Bolok gratis would the law be any different?

4) Ch. 23, v. 6: "Va'yahafoch Hashem Elokecho l'cho es hakoloh livrochoh" - And Hashem your G-d has turned around the curse into a blessing - The word "l'cho" seems superfluous.

5) Ch. 24, v. 5: "Ishoh chadoshoh" - The gemara Sotah 44a says that the exemption from going to war upon taking a new wife means "chadoshoh lo," new to him. This includes marrying a divorcee or a widow, but excludes his remarrying his former wife. Does the same concept apply to a home? If one sold a home in which he lived and purchased it back, is this a deferment or not?



Rabbi Shlomo haKohen of Vilna answers that in verse 20 the Torah is discussing the ben sorer's being brought to court a third time after repeated warnings. This appearance in court could lead to the death penalty. The gemara gives us six exemptions from the death penalty. The exemptions are, (gemara Sanhedrin 71a) if his parents are: 1) amputees, 2) lame, 3) mute, 4) deaf, 5) blind, 6) (gemara Makos 10b according to one opinion) or if his parents lived in a city that had no Torah scholars. Therefore the vav is left out, indicating these six exemptions. However, here in verse 18, we are discussing his being brought to court the first time which would only lead to the punishment of malkos (lashes) as it says "v'yisru oso." These six exemptions do not apply when the ben sorer receives malkos, hence the word u'moreh is "mollei."


Rabbi Meir Shapiro explains that by the blasphemer, all involved felt that he surely deserved to be put to death, hence the unified attitude is called "one stone." But regarding the one who desecrated Shabbos Tosfos on the gemara B.B. 119b d.h. "afilu" brings in the name of the medrash that he 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 would only apply to those who would enter Eretz Yisroel. Much desecration of Shabbos took place as mentioned in Yechezkel 20:13,21. Someone 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. Thus, says Rabbi Meir Shapiro, when it came to killing the Shabbos desecrator, there were different attitudes. Some felt that whatever his intention, he deserved to be killed, while others felt that since he had a noble intention, did not deserve to be killed. However, in carrying out the penalty, both took part, but with different stones, different feelings. Possibly, the same idea can be applied here. Since the rebellious son has not yet committed a crime deserving the death penalty, the Torah expresses his being put to death with "urgomuhu kol anshei iro voAVONIM," with STONES, indicating that it is understood that there would be two attitudes towards carrying out his death penalty.


Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Amsterdam answers that since we have a rule that "Ein sholiach l'dvar a'veiroh" (K'dushin 42b, Bovo Kamo 79a), Moav should not be responsible for asking Bilam to curse. However, the gemara B.K. 55b says that there are four damages that one can inflict and not be held responsible by our earthly court but be responsible by heavenly standards. One of the cases is one who HIRES false witnesses to testify in his favour. Tosfos 56a d.h. "Ela" points out that only by hiring is one responsible, but by just requesting witnesses to testify falsely, he is not responsible even by heavenly standards. Therefore, he answers, our verse stresses that Moav HIRED Bilam and therefore is responsible for his cursing, on a heavenly level, and Hashem has distanced Moav from the Jewish nation.

This might lead us to another answer to a question which was raised in parshas Bolok, Bmidbar 22:20, where Rashi explains that Hashem gave Bilam permission to go along with the ministers of Bolok only if he were to be paid for his efforts. We raised the question, "What bearing does payment have?" We can possibly answer that Hashem wanted Moav to be punished for its evil plans. If Bilam were to work gratis then Moav would bear no responsibility, so Hashem only allowed him to go if he were hired.


We have a rule that he who blesses the bnei Yisroel is blessed, "Vaavorcho m'vorachecho" (Breishis 12:3). If so, Bilom should be blessed since in fact he blessed us. Our verse tells us that since his intention was to curse us and only Hashem turned this around, the blessing is "l'cho," only for you, the bnei Yisroel, and not for Bilom. (Degel Machaneh Efrayim)


Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his notes to the mishnoh Sotoh, p.8, #28, says that he believes that the same rule applies to the exemption of one who has a new home and has not moved in. Even if it is an old house, but new for him, he is exempt, but not a house he has once lived in, sold, and repurchased.



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

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