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Friday, April 23

The Weekly Shtikle - Acharei Mos / Kedoshim

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Opa, Tovia Yehudah ben Yoel, a'h.

In this week's parsha (18:21), we are introduced to the prohibition against the brutal practice of giving over one's child to the Molech. The exact details of the Molech are discussed in the gemara Sanhedrin. In a nutshell, it refers to a father giving over his child to some form of Avodah Zarah. In the gemara (64a) quite an intriguing law concerning Molech is taught. Rav Acha berei d'Rava states that one who gives over all of his children to the Molech is exempt from the punishment for Molech. He infers this from the word in the pasuk "umizar'acha," from your offspring and not all of your offspring.

R' Tzvi Pesach Frank, in Har Tzvi, raises an interesting question. In order to be given punishment, we require that the transgressor be properly warned beforehand. There is a concept called "hasra'as safek," which is a conditional warning where the action in which the transgressor will be engaging is not clearly a transgression of he specific prohibition. For example, for one to be warned not to throw a rock into a crowd of people because he MIGHT kill someone is "hasra'as safek" for it is not clear that he will kill someone. According to some opinions this is not a valid warning. Therefore, according to those opinions, how can one ever receive punishment for Molech? When you warn the father, it is an invalid warning because he can simply give over all of his children and be exempt. R' Frank suggests that the concept of hasra'as safek is only problematic when it is uncertain that the prohibition will be transgressed at all. However, when a father gives over all his children, it is not that he has not transgressed the prohibition of Molech. Rather, he has transgressed the prohibition but is merely exempt from the punishment. Therefore, since he definitely will be transgressing the Molech prohibition, the warning is valid.


Let's go 2-for-2 with R' Tzvi Pesach Frank. Kedoshim begins commanding us to be kedoshim, holy. The Midrash Rabbah in Parshas Mikeitz says, "This pasuk may have been construed to mean that you should be as holy as I, until it says at the end of the pasuk 'ki Kadosh Ani,' for I am holy. My holiness is above yours." This is a very difficult suggestion to understand. How would even the most foolish of men begin to think that the holiness of man could reach that of HaShem's?

R' Tzvi Pesach Frank, in Har Tzvi offers the following explanation: In the previous parsha, the pasuk (16:16) refers to the Oheil Mo'eid as "hashochein itam besoch tum'osam," that dwells amongst them in the midst of their tum'ah. Rashi comments that even though they are temei'im, the Shechinah, the Holy Presence, dwells among them. The possible misconception referred to by the Midrash is based on this concept. One might have mistakenly thought that just as HaShem's kedushah is such that He may dwell even among a nation that is tamei, a man's kedushah can protect him in such surroundings as well. The Torah then teaches us that this is not so for HaShem's holiness is above ours.

This lesson has far-reaching implications. It may be understood on it's simplest level, referring to actual tum'ah. No man is so holy that contact with tum'ah will not render him tamei. But it can also be understood on a more spiritual level. One must realize that there is no level of holiness, no shell that can protect someone from being influenced by the society in which he dwells. One's level of spiritual purity will always be affected by his surroundings.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Dikdukian: Stand up, goat!
Dikdukian: Mitum'os
AstroTorah: Satan: Our Martian King of Earth by R" Ari Storch

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