PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.
MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL
Menachim Z. Shimanowitz
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NUMBER OF MITZVOT: 74!!
27 MITZVOT ASEH (POSITIVE COMMANDMENT)
47 MITZVOT LO TAASEH (NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT - PROHIBITION)
NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 110
NUMBER OF WORDS: 1582
NUMBER OF LETTERS: 5856
HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha)
Yeshayahu / Isaiah 54:1- 10 רני
This is the fifth of seven Haftorot,
- the שבע דנחמתא - the Seven Haftorot of Consolation, that precede Rosh HaShana).
Because we did not recite it two weeks ago, some add the Haftora of Parshat Re’eh עניה סוערה (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 54:11-55:5). See Mishneh Berurah 425:7. This is the third of seven Haftorot,
- the שבע דנחמתא - the Seven Haftorot of Consolation, that precede Rosh HaShana).
This week we study Chapters 1 & 2 of Pirkei Avot - "Ethics of the Fathers"
פרשת כי תצא
our last episode Moshe set up the ruling system of Eretz Yisroel
from Judges to Kings. We also learned a few rules about the Jewish
As our Parsha
opens, Moshe has a few additional comments about war. The war
he refers to is a war under the leadership of a Jewish King. This
time Moshe’s concerned about non-Jewish captives.
| In a war, soldiers bring back
prisoners. Among them are women. What happens if a Jewish soldier
sees a non-Jewish female prisoner, a Yefat Toar (pretty
looking) and wants to marry her? Hashem is up on human
nature. What’s the point of forbidding something if the Jews won’t
be able to keep the Mitzvah? So Hashem comes up
with a plan... let’s make a Mitzvah out of the Avaira
and keep human nature under control. This is one of those Mitzvot.
Hashem knows that a Jewish soldier who wants to marry a non-Jewish girl isn’t going to give up this woman so quickly. So Hashem has a few tough rules to make sure that the Jewish soldier stays in line:
The goal here is to snap the soldier into reality. If he takes a look at this bald, long nailed, plain Jane captive and still wants to marry her, there are a couple of rules for her:
- First, the female prisoner must shave her head bald.
- Second, she has to let her nails grow and grow until they are really ugly.
- Third, she has to put on simple clothing.
For a month this woman stays in his home and prepares to become a convert. The woman will naturally cry for her parents. The crying and moping may touch the heart of the soldier, convincing him to let her go. Will he have second thoughts? The Torah hopes so. But if the soldier is still determined to marry her, the next step is in her hands.
The woman is brought before Bait Din. The judges ask her if she agrees to keep all the Mitzvot of the Torah. If she agrees, she begins to live as a Jew immediately. The Bait Din reconvenes 30 days later and she is declared a full-fledged Jew.
It seems obvious that Hashem does not like this situation. The Torah hints that the marriage will probably end up with the soldier either thinking of her as a low life or treating her as a slave. Just in case this happens, there is a Mitzvah in the Torah reminding him that she is his wife and he’d better treat her that way.
B'chor (first-born son) is supposed to inherit a double
portion of the family fortune.
But what happens
if a man has more than one wife and the first-born is the child
of a wife that the man doesn’t like. What if the father decides
he doesn’t want to give this first-born the double portion; instead,
he wants to give it to his favorite wife’s first born? And the
answer is... no cigar! The true first-born gets the double dinero!
say that when the Torah mentions the less-loved wife,
it is talking about the Yefat Toar, the captive-turned-convert
discussed above, who is now a hated wife. She will have
the firstborn son, for Hashem has compassion for her
plight as the neglected wife.
this: a kid hits 13. Within the next three months he steals money
from Pop and buys meat and wine. He hangs out with drug dealers
and crooks, just eating meat and drinking wine. Two people witness
this. They warn the kid to change his behavior and find new friends.
But the kid won’t listen.The parents are allowed to bring this kid
to a Bait Din of three judges. The judges order a whipping
for the boy. Hopefully, this will set the kid straight.
Let’s say the boy goes back to stealing from his father and
more meat eating and wine drinking with bums. Now the parents
bring the kid before a 23 judge Bait Din. The kid is
labeled a “Ben Sorer U’moreh,” a “rebellious son.” He
is sentenced to death.
What’s this all about? A little stolen meat and wine is punishable
The answer is that the conditions for the "rebellious son" are
so complicated that it’s really impossible to meet them.
Here are the conditions we left out:
- If the kid steals from his parents but also steals from other
people, he’s not a rebellious son - he’s just a no-goodnik!
- Both Parents have to be the same height!!!! and speak with
- Both parents have to be alive and not blind, deaf, dumb or
- The kid has to eat the meat in a really disgusting gluttonous
- All these problems with the kid has to happen within 3 months
of his Bar-Mitzvah.
You know what? The Talmud tells
us in Tractate Sanhedrin 71a, that in Jewish history, there
never was, and never will be, a Bait Din that executes
a rebellious son. Yet, the Torah tells us that it is still
a Mitzvah to be on the lookout for one of these rebels
because they could grow up to be murderers. Hashem says
it’s better to wipe ‘em out before they start going on killing sprees.
The true lesson we learn from
this episode is that parents should never overlook disobedience
from a child. The Torah tells you not to condone bad
behavior, control it early by educating your children in Torah
and Mitzvot or be sorry later.
The Torah tells us that the body of a person executed for idol worship is to be hung, to publicize the execution. However, the body may not remain unburied overnight. The body must be taken down and buried before nightfall. The same rule applies to all Jewish dead. Unless it will bring honor to the dead person if the burial is delayed, a body cannot remain unburied overnight.
| If a Jew finds
an object lost by another Jew, it is a Mitzvah to return
it. Place some notices around your neighborhood saying you found
the item. If the object is worth less than a prutah, (a
penny), or if no one will be able to prove they lost it, (let’s
say an unmarked ball that’s real popular), it doesn’t have to be
If the item found is food that can perish, or an animal that can die, you must sell it and hold the money until the owner can reclaim it.
In the time of the Bait Hamikdash, there was a place outside Yerushalayim, where people would come to announce what they lost or found.
Here’s a Mitzvah that falls into the “prevention of cruelty to animals” category:|
It is a Mitzvah to help a person load and unload an animal.
Let’s say Farmer Feivel asks you to LOAD his donkey but he refuses to help you. That’s not fair! The Torah says to bear with the situation and help out but you may ask for some gelt (money) to do the job.
Now, let’s say that Farmer Feivel asks you to help UNLOAD the animal. Even though it isn’t fair, Hashem commands us to endure the situation and single-handedly unload it without pay. That’s because the animal may be suffering. The Mitzvah of “Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim,” (not letting creatures suffer), makes us more aware that within Torah law, a Jew must respect animals and do all he can to respect their existence.
| The Torah
forbids a man from wearing ladies clothes or jewelry, nor a woman
to wear mans clothing. Purim
Here’s another example of how Hashem wants us to respect His creatures: When a mother bird guards her nest, those eggs are the most important possession she has. A mother bird is created with the instinct to protect her nest. When a Jew happens to find a bird’s nest, the mother bird must be chased away from the nest first, before one can remove the eggs or chicks. If the mother bird keeps coming back, you must continue to shoo her away. |
This Mitzvah only applies to kosher wild birds and only if you come upon the nest by accident. Ducks, chickens, and turkeys and other domestic birds do not have to be chased away.
The Torah promises that if you do this Mitzvah, "It will be good for you and you will live a long life."
is a Mitzvah to build a fence around a terrace or roof
where people might be in danger of falling. This Mitzvah
opens the door to a whole bunch of safety tips to prevent kids (and
adults) from hurting themselves, here are some tips:
For more Safety Tips
- Keep safety covers on all sockets within a child’s reach.
- Keep medicine covered with safety covers and out of reach
- Never leave small objects lying around where a baby can pick
them up and place them in their mouth.
- Always make sure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Make sure that windows have strong gates so that kids won’t
not allowed to plant grains or vegetables in a vineyard.
that falls into the “Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim” category
is that you’re not allowed to mix and match harnessed animals.
Farmers used to harness animals to plow the fields. Animals were
used to pull wagons. You’re not allowed to hitch a donkey and
an ox to the same yoke, for example. Since one animal is stronger
than the other, the weaker one may lag behind or get annoyed.
Here's one Mitzvah that comes up every time we buy clothes. We're not allowed to mix the two materials, WOOL and LINEN. This mixture is called Shatnez.
This is tough because only a trained shatnez tester can really tell if
there are a couple of linen threads mixed into wool fibers, or a button is
sown on a linen garment with wool threads.
Hashem reminds Bnei Yisroel again to attach Tzitzit to any garment the has four corners.|
Tzitzit are a set of four strings, folded in half to make 8 strings. The strings are knotted and rolled in a special way and the eight strings hang down like tassles.
Part of the Mitzvah is to dye one of the white strings in each corner blue with the blood of a fish called a Chilazon. In the old days these fish were a cinch to find. Over time they disappeared and today we don't know which fish the Chilazon is.
Although the Mitzvah only has to be fulfilled if a Jew happens to wear a four-cornered garment, traditionally, we wear a specially made 4-cornered garment to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzit everyday.
The tzitzit are meant to be looked at. They remind us that we are Hashem's servants, observing His Mitzvot.
If a person converts to Judaism, we are commanded to accept them as one of our own. But Moshe tells us that there are four nations that we don’t always accept converts from. Those are Amon, Moav, Edom and Mitzrayim.
Amon and Moav are descendants of Lot, Avrohom’s nephew. When Lot was captured
by the four kings, Avrohom rescued him. Now, when the Bnei
Yisroel want to pass through their land, these two nations
should have no problem closing the state highway for a couple
of days. But, nooo! They just plum refuse passage! Moav even hires
Bilam to curse the Jews. Hashem wants to protect the
Bnei Yisroel from the impure intentions of these people.
Therefore, since only the males sinned against Bnei Yisroel,
only females of Moav and Amon can become converts; males can never
Edom is descended from Eisav. An Edomite who converts to Judaism - male or famale - cannot marry a Jew-from-birth. They can only marry other Gerim(converts). Their kids can also only marry Gerim. The grandkids can, however, marry Jews-from-birth. The same rule goes for Egyptians. Only the third generation Egyptian Ger can marry a Jew-from-birth.
When a slave escapes from his master outside of Eretz Yisroel, and wishes to settle in Eretz Yisroel, The Torah forbids you to return him to his master. The slave must be given his freedom, and he then becomes a convert and allowed to settle in Eretz Yisroel.
The Torah understands that sometimes a marriage needs to come to an end. There are lots of rules about divorce, just like there are lots of rules about getting married. If a man wants to divorce his wife, he must present her with a “Get,” a document that is specially written by a trained Sofer (scribe). This must be done in front of two witnesses. Without a Get, there is no divorce, and the couple cannot remarry others.
The Torah also forbids a husband from remarrying his divorced wife, if after the divorce, she upped and remarried, even after her second husband died.
Let’s say Mean Moe wants to borrow fifty bucks from you. You want to make sure that Moe pays you back, so you ask for some collateral (security). That means something that’s worth the value of the loan. If the loan isn’t paid back on time, you get to keep the collateral.
If a poor man leaves you his only coat as collateral, you have to let him wear it on cold days and he has to return it every night.
Let’s say you forget to ask for collateral. It’s too late once the money’s given. In that case you have to get Bait Din to ask the borrower for the collateral.
It's forbidden to enter the home to take collateral from a borrower. Outside the door please.
It's also forbidden to take as collateral anything the borrower needs to prepare food or anything the borrower needs for his livelihood. It's also forbidden to take collateral from a widow. Period.
| Lashon Hora
is punishable by Tzara'at (a leprosy like condition). Miriam,
Moshe’s sister, proved it. When Moshe separated from his wife, Miriam
told Aharon that Moshe was wrong. Even though she only wanted the
best for Moshe, Hashem punished her with Tzara'at
for telling Lashon Hora. It is a Mitzvah to remember
the sin of Miriam so that we will refrain from speaking Lashon
FORGET IT -
in Vayikra, Parshat Kedoshim, this is a three-parter that
can only be fulfilled in Eretz Yisroel.
Firstly, every farmer has to put aside a corner of his field for
This Mitzvah is called PAY-YA. How much of the
field, you ask? Well, the average is one fiftieth of the field.
If you're more generous, 1/40, and if you're feeling on the cheap
side but you still want to fulfill the Mitzvah, 1/60th
Now, let's say
you've got a worker collecting stalks of grain and he drops one
or two. You're not allowed to pick them up. Hashem wants
you to leave them for poor people. This Mitzvah is called
The third part
of the Mitzvah (and that is the one mentioned in this
Parsha) is that once the stalks have been bundled up,
if one bundle is accidentally left in the field it goes to the
poor. This is called SHIK-CHA.
These three Mitzvot
apply to grains. (These laws do not apply to any food item that
is subject to the laws of Ma'aser, which
we discussed in another Parsha.)
An owner of a vineyard
as well as an owner of an olive tree grove have four gifts to
give to the poor.
Besides PAY-YA and SHIK-CHA, he has PERET
PERET is one or two single grapes or olives that fall
while gathering are left for the poor.
OLELOT are undeveloped clusters of grapes or olives
that may not be picked and must be left for the poor.
Take the Mitzvah of chasing away the mother bird before taking her eggs. If two witnesses see a person in a tree just taking eggs while the mother bird sits there, they warn him of his sin. If the person refuses to listen, the two witnesses report him to Bait Din and the Bait Din cops haul him in.
If the person is found guilty, he gets a whipping. This is called "Malkot." The persons hands are tied and he is bent over. A physician checks him to see how many lashes he can handle. The most he will get is 39. While the whipping is going on, Pesukim from Devarim (chap. 28: 58-61) are read to him to get him to do teshuva.
Malkot applies to most prohibitions in the Torah.
|If a man dies without
any kids, his brother is commanded to marry the widow. The first
born son of this marriage is considered the dead man's son.
But what if the brother doesn't
want to marry the widow?
In this case, the two go to Bait Din, and in front
of the Judges, the widow must take off her brother-in-law's right
shoe. (A special shoe is used). She spits on the floor in front
of him and exclaims, "This is what happens to one who refuses
to build his brother's family." This is called "Chalitza."
The Torah had hoped that the brother-in-law would rather marry his brother's widow than go thru the shame of Chalitza.
These days, we do not encourage such marriages, and there is always Chalitza.
Hashem tells the Bnei Yisroel to be meticulously honest when it comes to weights and measures in business dealings. Hashem hates it so much that it is even forbidden to keep any inaccurate weights at home even as a bookend or paperweight.
| If there's one nation
that Hashem is peeved about it's Amalek. After witnessing
the great miracles of splitting the red sea, which made other nations
tremble, Amalek broke the spell of fear by attacking the Bnei
The Amalek army snuck up behind the cloud of glory and attacked these who had sinned and were expelled from the cloud of glory.
Hashem makes it clear that the King of Israel must wipe out the entire Amalek, including their memory.
Of course, we now know that King Saul spared Agag, the king of Amalek. His descendant was the wicked Haman.
By reading this portion of the Parsha once a year,
Parshat Zachor, the Shabbat before Purim)
we fulfill Hashem's Mitzvah of remembering what Amalek
did to the Bnai Yisroel.
Tune in next week as Moshe makes a new deal between the Jews and Hashem. It's a race to the finish line beginning with our next exciting episode of:
the Midrash Maven on Ki Teitzei
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