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Friday, September 9

The Weekly Shtikle - Ki Seitzei

    In this week's parsha, (23:5), we are told that an Amonite and Moavite are not allowed to come 'bikhal HaShem', that a convert from Amon or Moav may not marry into B'nei Yisroel. The reasons given are because they did not come forth with bread and water as we passed their land and for their hiring of Bilam to curse us. The question that is asked by many of the commentaries is that in 2:29, and particularly with the explanation of Rashi, it seems that Edom and Moav both provided B'nei Yisroel with bread and water, albeit at a price. Also, we do not see in the pesukim anywhere that Amon had anything to do with the hiring of Bilam. There is much discussion amongst the commentaries concerning this question, too much to deal with at one time. I will focus on the answer of the Sma"g. He simply interprets the pasuk as giving one reason for each nation. The Amonites are forbidden to marry into our nation because they did not come forth with bread and water. The Moavites are forbidden for their involvement in the hiring of Bilam. The problem with this interpretation, however, is that in the Gemara Yevamos 76b we learn that women are excepted from this prohibition. We learn this because the reason of not having come forth with bread and water would not apply to women whose nature is not to come forth in that manner. It seems from there that this reason applies to both Amon and Moav, for it is specifically Moavites that are the subject of that Gemara. The only possible explanation for the Sma"g is that just like it is not the nature of women to go out and greet a nation with bread and water, it is not their nature to go out and hire hitmen. The only difficulty with this, of course, is that such a reasoning is not mentioned in the Gemara itself. Nevertheless, the Rashba in Yevamos interprets the gemara in accordance with the Sma"g.

    Another interesting nuance in the pasuk is that the language used in the failure to bring bread and water is 'asher lo kidmu eschem', B'nei Yisroel are referred to in plural. But in the hiring of Bilam it states 'va'asher sachar alecha', referring to B'nei Yisroel in singular. I think that the explanation for this is that when Bilam was to curse B'nei Yisroel, it was to be done on the entire nation at once. Therefore, the nation is referred to in singular form. However, from the aforementioned gemara in Yevamos it seems that it was expected of the Amonites to come forth with the men giving food to the men, and the women to the women. Since they were expected to come and give individual attention to separate groups of B'nei Yisroel, they are referred to in the plural.


If you have a few extra minutes, this cute game was developed a couple of years ago to demonstrate the mitzvah of "Shiluach HaKein." The site which hosted it is not up anymore but I was able to rescue the file and host it:

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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