Oroh V'Simchoh

Meshech Chochmoh
on the Weekly Parsha

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 10: "U'n'sono Hashem Elokecho b'yo'decho" - The Torah allows one to take for a wife a woman of goodly appearance, a "y'fas to'ar," who was captured during a war. Why does the Torah state "Hashem will give your enemy into your hand" as a condition for permitting taking a "y'fas to'ar" as a wife? What bearing does "Hashem will give your enemy into your hand" have on the permissibility to marry a "y'fas to'ar?" The MESHECH CHOCHMOH answers that it is common during a war to have each side capture people from the enemy. After the war ends there is often a negotiated exchange of prisoners of war. If one were to take a "y'fas to'ar" as a wife and thus she would not return to her people after the war ends, there is a fear that Jewish prisoners would also not be allowed to return. Therefore a "y'fas to'ar" is only permitted when "u'n'sono Hashem Elokecho b'yo'decho," when Hashem has given over your enemy into your hand and you have complete control of the enemy, without his having any Jewish captives. Then, and only then, may you take a "y'fas to'ar."

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. 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.

The Tosefta N'go'im 6:2 says that the laws of ben soreir u'moreh do not apply to one who lives in Yerusholayim. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that since tithings of produce including wine and first-born cattle, "b'choros," are brought to Yerusholayim, and are thus found there in great abundance, it is not conclusive that a youth who is drawn to wine and meat will be drawn down the road of gluttony and destruction. The Beis Yisroel on our parsha 5709 says that we do not fear that the youth will go down the road of gluttony and destruction since he is exposed to people eating with sanctity, as they eat kodoshim kalim, maa'ser sheni, etc., in Yerusholayim. The consumption of such items brings to sanctity, as is stated, "V'ochalto lifnei Hashem Elokecho bamokome asher yivchar ...... l'maan tilmad l'yiroh es Hashem Elokecho." Thus, eating in general is elevated to a higher plane in Yerusholayim. When the Beis Yisroel told this explanation to the Chazon Ish, he derived great pleasure from it. A textual source for the Tosefta might be from verses 19, 20, and 21. The terms "ziknei irO, shaar m'komO," and "anshei irO" are used. We know that Yerusholayim was not given to any specific tribe, but rather shared by all (gemara Yoma 12a and Megiloh 26a). Thus it is inappropriate to say "the elders of HIS city, the gate of HIS place, the people of HIS city." Obviously, the verse is not discussing Yerusholayim. See Ovos d'Rebbi Noson chapter #35 for other peculiarities in the rulings of ben soreir u'moreh.

Ch. 22, v. 2: "Vaasafto" - And you shall gather IT in - This verse follows on the heels of "hosheiv t'shi'veim," return them, the ox and the sheep. If so, why doesn't our verse follow through with "vaasaftoM," and you shall gather THEM in? The Meshech Chochmoh answers that this teaches us that even though there is a ruling that when a live creature is found one should feed it provided that it provides goods or a service, for example milk, wool, plowing, that at least cover the cost of its upkeep. If it does not, you should sell it and when the person who has lost the object turns up, give him the money. Had our verse said "vaasaftoM," we would mistakenly believe that if one found both an ox and a sheep and combined they cover the cost of the upkeep of both, but individually, one carries its own weight and part of the other, we are still required to keep both, as the verse expresses itself in the plural form. Now that the verse says "vaasaftO," gather IT, singular, we calculate each animal's earnings on its own. The logic for this is simply because we cannot be sure that both animals belong to one person. It would seem from the words of the Meshech Chochmoh that if we had a strong indication that they both belonged to one person we would then pool their earnings and calculate this against their total upkeep cost.

Ch. 22, v. 4: "Chamore ochicho" - Rabbeinu Bachyei points out that in parshas Mishpotim we find "shor oyivcho o chamoro" (Shmos 23:5), or the donkey of your enemy. He explains that after one has shown kindness to his enemy, he gains an affinity for his fellow ben Yisroel, even an enemy, and his enemy becomes his friend.

The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that the gemara P'sochim 113b explains that the enemy referred to by the Torah can only mean a person who has sinned and not repented, as only such a person is it permitted to hate. Thus in parshas Mishpotim, before the sin of the golden calf it was common to find a person who was untainted with sin. Our parsha, which was after the sin of the golden calf, refers to all as friends, as even if you come upon someone who has sinned. You yourself are also not blemish free, and thus have no right to hold your fellow ben Yisroel in contempt.

Ch. 22, v. 17: "V'hinei hu som alilose dvorim" - Earlier in this episode in verse 14 it says, "V'som LOH alilose dvorim." In our verse the word LOH is not mentioned. The MESHECH CHOCHMOH explains that in verse 14 the Torah relates that a husband falsely claims that his wife had committed an infidelity. There is no indication that the husband's claim has affected his father-in-law's reputation. Therefore the word LOH is used, indicating that his claim only damages his wife's reputation. In our verse we have the father appearing in court defending his daughter. He claims that not only has his daughter's reputation been falsely tarnished, but also his own, as the father of a woman who could commit such a grievous sin, as we find in Vayikroh 21:9, "es ovihoh hi m'cha'leles." Indeed this is the reason that the guilty husband receives a two-fold punishment, lashes and a fine of 100 kesef (v. 18,19). The lashes are a punishment for the shame he caused his wife, and the payment is to his father-in-law for the shame he was caused to suffer. This explains why there is a double punishment for one act even according to the opinion that when one act brings two punishments, lashes and monetary payment, the payment is waived by virtue of the rule "kom lei bidrabo mi'nei" (gemara K'subos 32b, 33b), only the harsher punishment is administered. However, since the lashes are a retribution for his slandering his wife and the payment is for his indirectly slandering his father-in-law, the rule of "malkus l'ze umomone l'ze" allows for both punishments to be administered.

This last point of the MESHECH CHOCHMOH seems to be dependent upon the opinions mentioned in 22:19, the following offering.

Ch. 22, v. 19: "V'onshu oso mei'oh kesef v'nosnu la'avi hanaaroh" - The words "v'nosnu la'avi hanaaroh" seem to clearly indicate that the father is the recipient of the 100 kesef fine. The Baalei Tosfos in Moshav Z'keinim mention in the name of Rabbi Hai Gaon:

1) That the father does not keep the money for himself, as his daughter is already fully married, "n'suoh," but rather is only a safekeeper of the money, which actually belongs to his maligned daughter.

This opinion does not fit with the last point made by the MESHECH CHOCHMOH in the previous offering, as mentioned above.

2) That the father does actually keep the money as a reward for coming to court and taking up his daughter's case.

3) That the father actually does keep the money since he was also maligned, albeit indirectly. This last explanation is fully in line with the above-mentioned MESHECH CHOCHMOH.

Ch. 23, v. 19: "L'chol neder" - For any vow - The Sifri derives from this that the prohibition of offering a sacrifice of an animal that was either payment for the services of a prostitute or the proceeds of the sale of a dog apply to a "bomoh" altar as well. Toldos Odom says that it is simply derived from the inclusive connotation of the word l'CHOL.

However, the Meshech Chochmoh has a most innovative explanation. He notes that the syntax of our verse is difficult. The verse should have either said "Lo sovi esnan zonoh umchir kelev l'chol neder beis Hashem Elokecho," or "Lo sovi beis Hashem Elokecho esnan " "L'chol neder" seems to be in the wrong place, as it is surely attached to the item brought as a "neder." Why is it dangling at the end? This teaches us that the prohibition applies even to a "bomoh." "Beis Hashem Elokecho l'chol neder" means a house of Hashem for "n'dorim," sacrifices that are voluntarily donated. "Bomoh" altars only accept personal donation sacrifices and not obligatory sacrifices such as a "chatos." This seems to be a brilliant deduction.

There is more to this than the dvar Torah itself, as is found in our sefer Meshech Chochmoh. Rabbi Yoseif Adler was the Rov of a town named Turda. The Meshech Chochmoh's fame as a child prodigy genius was known far and wide. The Rov had the opportunity to meet Rabbi Meir Simchoh was he was but eleven years old. Young Meir Simchoh already knew all the sefer Urim v'Tumim on Ch.M. The Rov tested him on this and saw that he indeed knew it all. During their conversation the Rov became aware of young Meir Simchoh's lack of knowledge of Rashi on the Torah.

When asked about the disparity, he answered that since he was a young boy he acted accordingly, and although aware that one should have a solid grounding in Chumash and Rashi he found that one page of Urim v'Tumim had more sharpness and insightfulness than all the comments of Rashi on Chumash combined. (Remember, he was only eleven years old at the time.) The Rov was taken aback and told the youngster, "I plan to be back in about a year. At that time I expect you to know Chumash and Rashi well, all of it!"

A year later the Rov came and tested Meir Simchoh, and was quite satisfied with his knowledge of Chumash and Rashi. Meir Simchoh now told the Rov, "Contrary to what I told you last year, I now realize that there is more wisdom in one explanation of Rashi on chumash than in all the sefer Urim v'Tumim. Take this Rashi, which explains that 'l'chol dovor' teaches us that the prohibition applies even to 'bomoh.' (Note that we do not have this Rashi in our text, but it appears in some older editions.) The 'dibur hamas'chil,' words of the text upon which Rashi comments, is quite lengthy, 'beis Hashem Elokecho l'chol dovor.' Why doesn't Rashi just bring 'l'chol dovor'?" Meir Simchoh answered as above, that the derivation is from the seeming misplacement of "l'chol dovor," and the insight of "beis Hashem Elokecho l'chol dovor" being one continuous phrase, meaning "bomoh." May this most interesting story and accompanying dvar Torah serve as a springboard to have us appreciate the depth and profundity of the commentary of Rashi on Chumash.


See also Sedrah Selections, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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