Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 21, v. 10: "Ki seitzei lamilchomoh" - This is the fourth parsha that deals with war, coming in close proximity to three recent parshios that deal with the same subject matter. They are: "Ki seitzei lamilchomoh ...... v'ro'iso soos vo'rechev" (20:1), "Ki sikrav el ir l'hilo'cheim o'lehoh" (20:10), and "Ki sotzur el ir yomim rabim" (20:19). It is most surprising to find the parsha of "egloh arufoh" placed between the third and fourth of these parshios, as it seems to be off topic, not dealing with war.

2) Ch. 21, v. 11: "Eishes y'fas to'ar" - The juxtaposition of the parsha of the woman of goodly appearance to the previous parsha at the end of Shoftim of "egloh arufoh" deserves clarification.

3) Ch. 21, v. 21: "U'r'gomuhu" - The Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that if the rebellious son repents he is not put to death. He says this with no restrictions, seemingly indicating that this is true even after the court has pronounced the death penalty. Rashi's opinion is that until he is brought to court the second time, his repenting absolves him of being liable for the death penalty. The Rambam in hilchos mamrim 7:8 says that he is not put to death if he repents before the death penalty is pronounced by the court. This seems to be the opinion of the gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 8:6. There is an indication for the opinion of Targum Yonoson ben Uziel in this short four verse parsha. What is it?

4) Ch. 25, v. 2,3: "B'mispor, Arbo'im ya'kenu" - The gemara Makos 22b says that although the straightforward meaning of these words is that forty lashes are administered, nevertheless the Rabbis interpret the words to mean one lash less than forty, thirty-nine. The gemara goes on to say, "How foolish some people act. They stand up in reverence of a passing Torah Scroll, and when a Torah Scholar, a "GAVRO RABO" passes by, they remain seated. The literal word of the Torah is to administer 40 lashes and the Torah Scholars have reduced it by one. Why doesn't the Toras Kohanim 12:8 which interprets the verse that appears earlier in the Torah (Vayikra 23:16), "Tis'p'ru chamishim yom," - you shall count fifty days, and the Rabbis likewise say that the intention is to only count forty-nine days, say that the Rabbis are GAVRO RABO?

5) Ch. 25, v. 3: "Lo yosif" - How many of the Torah's negative precepts are punishable by lashing? What is the Torah allusion for this number?



The K'hilos Yitzchok answers that since the Torah discusses war, which inherently involves killing the foe, respect for human life is weakened in the eyes of the soldiers. The Torah therefore places the ruling of "egloh arufoh" in the middle of the war parshios to teach the value of a life. When a person is found murdered between cities we involve the greatest court of the land in a ritual that heightens the awareness of the preciousness of a human life.


This is explained by Va'y'da'beir Moshe. The final verse of parshas "egloh arufoh" says, "V'atoh t'va'eir hadom hanoki mikirbecho ki saa'seh ha'yoshor b'einei Hashem." Permitting a ben Yisroel to take a "y'fas to'ar" as a wife is clearly not an open invitation, but rather, a concession, as pointed out by Rashi at the beginning of our parsha in a number of places. The most striking point made in this vein is that by placing the parsha of the rebellious son right after this one, the Torah teaches us that one who avails himself of this concession will see no good come of it. Rather, he will produce with the "y'fas to'ar" a rebellious son. This rebellious son, upon meeting criteria outlined in our parsha, is put to death, even before he has committed a crime deserving death. It is preferable that he dies when still relatively clean of sin, than be allowed to live and end up dying with a sullied soul (mishneh Sanhedrin 8:5). According to this we can interpret, "v'atoh t'va'eir hadom hanoki mikirbecho," and you can do away with the need to spill the blood of one who is still clean of a sin that deserves the death penalty, a rebellious son, "ki saa'seh ha'yoshor b'einei Hashem," if you do that which is "yoshor," proper, in the eyes of Hashem, by not taking advantage of the begrudged concession that allows for taking a "y'fas to'ar" as your wife, thus avoiding your having a rebellious son.


Perhaps an indication for the opinion of the Targum Yonoson ben Uziel can be found in the words "v'lo YISHMA a'lei'hem" of verse 18. Although this verse discusses the first visit to the court, nevertheless we might be able to derive from the future tense used in this phrase, "v'lo YISHMA," that we only carry out the prescribed punishments when we are convinced that he WILL NOT IN THE FUTURE listen to his parents. If at any point there is an indication that he will change his negative ways, we do not punish him. (n.l.)


One summer Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski of Vilna spent some time in a resort town and for the first time met with the Holy Admor of Ostrovtze. After some persuasion the Holy Admor acquiesced to the wishes of Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer, and told him a "Torah chiddush." Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer was so impressed with the Torah chiddush that he lavishly praised the Holy Admor, including in his praises the expression GAVRO RABO. The Holy Admor responded that he was not a GAVRO RABO and that Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer had incorrectly given him this appellation.

Hagaon Rabbi Chaim Ozer asked why this was an inappropriate title. The Holy Admor responded that if the Gaon felt that he was very scholarly it would be appropriate to call him a Talmid Chochom only.

Upon being asked who is considered a GAVRO RABO, the Holy Admor responded that the above-mentioned gemara says that the Rabbis who concluded that the Torah's intention with the words "arbo'im ya'kenu" means only thirty-nine are considered GAVRO RABO. A question can be raised (our question #4): Why doesn't the Toras Kohanim 12:8 which interprets the verse that appears earlier in the Torah (Vayikra 23:16), "Tis'p'ru chamishim yom," - you shall count fifty days, and the Rabbis likewise say that the intention is to only count forty-nine days, say that the Rabbis are GAVRO RABO? "We see from here," said the Holy Admor, "that only when one eases the pain and affliction of a fellow Jew is the appellation GAVRO RABO appropriate."

Another answer is that Rashi on the verse of counting 50 days says that we can read the verse to say to count seven full weeks. "Chamishim yom" is the beginning of the next thought, that ORDINALLY on the fiftieth day we should offer the "minchoh chadoshoh." Concluding that the verse of "sfiras ho'omer" means to count only 49 days does not require a "gavra rabo," but our verse clearly states 40 lashes, and it is only through the special ability of "gavra rabo" that we explain "b'mispor arbo'im" to mean the count that leads to 40, i.e. one number before 40, which also requires beginning with the last word of verse 2 and running it into verse three.


Rabbeinu Bachyei says that of the 365 negative precepts of the Torah, 207 are punishable by lashes. He says that this is alluded to in our verse when it discusses not increasing upon the number of lashes that one is to receive. "RaBoH," found later in our verse in the phrase "makoh RaBoH," spelled Reish-Beis-Hei, has the numerical value of 207. Do not add lashes onto RaBoH, the 207 negative precepts that are punishable by lashes.



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

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