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Friday, August 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shofetim

Considering the tardiness of this week's shtikle, I am including a question/thought which extends to next week's parsha as well. Perhaps by next week I will have more to offer on this point:
In this week's parsha (20:5-8), we are told of the various announcements that are made by the officers before going to war. Anyone who recently built a house,planted a vineyard or betrothed a woman was told to return to their homes and not to proceed to battle. In next week's parsha (24:5), we are also told of the laws pertaining to a newly married man. There we are told that he should not go out the army whatsoever for his first year of marriage for he shall remain home to make his wife happy. It seems clear that the exemption for the newly married man is different than the exemptions mentioned in Shofetim. The newlywed is not to leave his house at all. However, it seems the other exempt individuals are expected to go out with the army, only to be sent back when the officers make their announcement. Perhaps, by doing so, they are made available for other non-combat tasks whereas the newlywed is not even allowed to participate in those simpler tasks.

Another nuance that bothered me about the laws mentioned in Shofetim: We are told, for example, that someone who has recently built a house should not engage in combat, lest he die and someone else will then take possession of his new home. My question: So what? That's just the way it goes? Why would we be worried about someone else taking ownership of his house any more than someone else? It occurred to me, although I did not find any source for this, that perhaps the Torah is not stating our communal worry regarding his house but rather, explaining the worry that might be in the mind of the soldier. In other words, we do not want someone in that position to go out to war because he will be worried about his new house and thus will not be able to focus his attention sufficiently on the battle being waged. While this does make these exemptions slightly easier to understand, it still is difficult to understand why the man who recently betrothed a woman would have more on his mind than a married man with five kids.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
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