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Friday, June 11

The Weekly Shtikle - Korach

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


This week's shtikle is dedicated for a refuah sheleimah for my father.

Please include Reuven Pinchas ben Yehudis in your tefillos.


The gemara (Berachos 10a) recounts that Rabbi Meir was having some difficulty with some neighbourhood hoodlums and prayed that they would meet an untimely demise. Rabbi Meir's wife, Beruryah took issue with this prayer. Referencing a pasuk we recited yesterday and today as a Rosh Chodesh addition, she declares the pasuk (Tehillim 104:35) states "yitamu chatta'im min ha'aretz," the sins shall cease from the land. It does not say chot'im, sinners. Furthermore, the end of the pasuk states that the wicked will be no more – since the sins will cease, there will be no more wicked people. Indeed, she succeeded in convincing her husband to modify his tefillah and he davened that they should repent – and so they did.

As nice as this story is, there is a difficulty with Beruryah's clever rebuke. We see from this week's parsha (17:3) that the word chatta'im is actually used to refer to sinners. There is a very subtle difference, as well. Chatta'im with a dagesh in the tes, as it appears here and in Tehillim, is the plural of chatta, sinner. Only without a dagesh in the tes is it the plural of cheit, sin. So how are we to understand Beruryah's words?

I found a beautiful explanation in Eim laMikra, a sefer on dikduk, quoting another contemporary work, Layhudim Haysa Orah. Indeed, the word chatta'im does mean sinners. However, there is a difference between chatta'im and chot'im. A chatta is someone for whom sin is an essence of his being. It is the same construct as gammal or chammar referring to a camel or donkey driver as that is their profession. A chotei, however, is someone who sins casually. They are heavily influenced by the chatta'im to follow in their ways. What the pasuk in Tehillim is teaching us is that when the chatta'im are no longer they will cease to influence the chot'im and all other resha'im and they will naturally do teshuvah. Beruryah was cautioning her husband that these men are not really chatta'im. They are merely chot'im, as they are only under the influence of greater sinners and he should not pray for their demise as they are not the subject of the pasuk.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Just do it!
Dikdukian: Flee Market
Dikdukian: Vayikach Korach

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