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Friday, September 6

The Weekly Shtikle - Shofetim

At the beginning of this week's parsha, the process of prosecuting the idolater is discussed. Regarding his or her demise by stoning it is stated, (17:7) "and you shall wipe out the evil from your midst."

Immediately thereafter, we are taught of the procedure regarding the zakein mamreh, the elder who engages in a dispute with the Sanhedrin and advises others in contradiction to their decree. He is put to death for this insurrection, about which it is said, (17:12) "and you will wipe out the evil from Yisrael."


R' Moshe Shternbuch, in Ta'am VaDa'as, explains the slight discrepancy between the two phrases. He notes that the nature of the zakein mamreh is such that in his disagreement with the Sanhedrin, he will develop a following and become more of a public figure. That is why the Torah states that in carrying out the proper punishment, you will be removing evil from all of Yisrael.


The difficulty with this explanation is that in last weeks' parsha, regarding the false prophet, it is said (13:6) "and you shall wipe out the evil from your midst." Surely, the false prophet will also have developed a following. Shouldn't "Yisrael" be more appropriate in that case.


Along similar lines, it may be suggested that the actual process of the zakein mamreh is what creates the public spectacle. Even though he is only liable when he returns to his city and continues to advise as he was before, the showdown with the grand beis din happens in Yerushalayim on the Har haBayis. It is certain to grab the attention of the masses and that is why the term Yisrael is more appropriate.

In the case of the idolater, as well as the case of the false prophet, the case could very well be dealt with on a local level and not be as widely known. Therefore, mikirbecha, which would seem to refer to a smaller subset of the nation, is used.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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