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Friday, May 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Acharei Mos

Special Weekly Shtikle mazal tov to my nephew and niece, Dovid Nisson and Tova Shonek on the birth of a baby girl, Tzivya, born over Pesach. Mazal tov to the extended Shonek, Bulka and Jakobovits families including the great great grandmother, Oma Jakovits.


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. (I figured this would be apropos since my son and I recently finished the mishnayos of Sanhedring as part of Mishnah yomis.) In a nutshell, it refers to a father giving over his child to some form of avodah zarah. In the gemara (64b) 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.


Tosafos ask a very simple question. Suppose someone has two children. If they give over one of their children to the molech and are liable for the death penalty, how is it possible for them to simply reverse their fate by transgressing all over again with their second child? Tosafos answer that this exemption would apply to someone with only one child or someone who gives over all of them at once. But it seems the assumption remains that in the scenario above, the death penalty would still apply.


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 safeik, which is a conditional warning where the action in which the transgressor will be engaging is not definitively a transgression of the 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 safeik 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 safeik 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.


Have a good Shabbos and chodesh tov.

Eliezer Bulka

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