29. ACHAREY MOT 5782

FROM THE TORAH

Leviticus 16:1-18:30

Returning to the regular order of Sedras that was preempted by Pesach Readings of the past two “weeks,” Sedra Acharey Mot takes up the theme of purity established in the preceding Sedras of Tazria and Metsora.  The maintenance of purity in the life of Israel comes to a climax in the opening verses of this Sedra with the purification from accumulated impurity on the Day of Atonement.  The issue is continued with respect to the slaughtering of animals for food and to domestic human intimacy, but it is also demarcated as an anticipated distinction of Israel, presently to possess the Land of Israel, from which previous violators of purity will be expelled.

Purification

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
16:1-34
Preparation
16:1-5

After the death (Acharey Mot) of Aaron’s two sons (cf. Leviticus 10:1 ff.), when they drew near before the Eternal, the Eternal charges Moses to warn Aaron his brother that he may not enter the inner side of the Dividing Curtain (Parochet) of the Sanctuary, before the Propitiatory (Kaporet), which is over the Ark and over which the Eternal may be seen in a thick cloud, unless he brings a bull of the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, lest he die.  Moreover, he must first bathe his body in water and then be dressed with a sacred linen tunic, linen breeches directly against his skin, a linen sash, and a linen turban.  He shall also take from the congregation of the Children of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering.

Casting of Lots
16:6-10

Aaron shall offer his bull of sin offering to seek atonement for himself and for his household, and he should position the two male goats before the Eternal at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, casting lots concerning them: one for the Eternal and one for Azazel.  He shall offer up as a sin offering the goat for which the lot comes up for the Eternal.  The other goat, for which the lot comes up for Azazel, shall be left standing alive before the Eternal for seeking atonement, and shall ultimately be sent for Azazel into the wilderness.

Sin Offerings
16:11-19

In the meantime, Aaron should slaughter his bull of sin offering and bring a panful of glowing coals from upon the Altar, from before the Eternal, and two handfuls of finely-ground aromatic Incense, to the inner side of the Dividing Curtain.  He shall put the Incense upon the fire before the Eternal, creating an Incense cloud to obscure the Propitiatory which is over the Testimony, so that he does not die.  He shall sprinkle some of the blood of the bull with his finger over the Propitiatory on the east side, and on the front of the Propitiatory he shall sprinkle some of the blood seven times with his finger.  Then he shall slaughter the people’s male goat of sin offering and bring its blood inside of the Dividing Curtain.  As he did with the blood of the bull, he shall sprinkle some of the blood of the people’s male goat of sin offering both over the Propitiatory and in front of it.

Thus shall he seek atonement for the Sanctuary from the impurities and iniquities of the Children of Israel, with respect to all of their sins, and thus shall he do for the Tent of Meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their impurities.  Let no man be in the Tent of Meeting when he enters to seek atonement in the Sanctuary, until he leaves.  He shall seek atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the community of Israel.  Then he shall go out to the Altar, which is before the Eternal, and seek atonement for it, applying some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat to each of the horns of the Altar.  He shall also sprinkle upon it some of the blood with his finger seven times.  Thus shall he purify it and sanctify it from the impurities of the Children of Israel.

Azazel
16:20-26

Then Aaron shall bring forward the living goat and place both of his hands upon its head, confessing over it all of the iniquities and transgressions of the Children of Israel.  Bearing upon it all of Israel’s sins, the goat is conducted into the wilderness by a specially-designated man, to a place from which there is no return.

Aaron shall then come to the Tent of Meeting, remove the linen garments and leave them there.  He shall bathe his body in water in a holy place, put on his garments, and go out and offer his burnt offering and the people’s burnt offering, seeking atonement for himself and for the people.  He shall cause the fat of the sin offering to smoke upon the Altar.  The conductor of the goat for Azazel shall wash his garments and bathe his body in water.  He may thereafter enter the camp.

Disposal
16:27-28,34b

The bull of sin offering and the goat of sin offering, the blood of which was brought to seek atonement in the Sanctuary, shall be removed to outside of the camp.  Their hides, their flesh and their dung shall be burned in fire.  The burner shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water.  He may thereafter enter the camp.

Moses does as the Eternal commanded him.

Everlasting Statute
16:29-34a

This shall be an everlasting statute for you.  On the tenth day of the seventh month you shall afflict yourselves and not do any work, both the native and the alien who sojourns with you, for on that day atonement shall be made for you to purify you from all of your sins before the Eternal.  It is a Sabbath of complete rest.  The anointed Kohen who succeeds his father and puts on the sacred vestments of linen shall seek atonement for the Most Holy Sanctuary, for the Tent of Meeting, for the Altar, and for the Kohanim and for all of the people of the community, as an everlasting statute, to seek atonement of the Children of Israel from all of their sins, one time in the year.

Sanctity of Animal Life

ALL OFFERINGS TO THE TENT OF MEETING
17:1-9

The Eternal charges Moses to warn Aaron, his sons, and all the Children of Israel, against slaughtering an ox, a sheep, or a goat, either inside or outside of the camp, without bringing it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting as an offering to the Eternal before His Tabernacle.  Failing to so bring it shall be imputed as bloodguilt for the violator: he has shed blood and will be cut off from among his people.  The purpose of this warning is to end sacrificing in the open by the Children of Israel.  Instead, they should bring their sacrifices to the Kohen and slaughter them as peace offerings to the Eternal.  The Kohen shall dash the blood of the sacrifice upon the Altar of the Eternal and cause the fat to smoke for a pleasant aroma to the Eternal.  No more shall they offer their sacrifices to the goat demons after which they stray.  This shall be an everlasting statute for them throughout their generations.

Anyone of the House of Israel or of the aliens who sojourn in their midst who offers a burnt offering or a sacrifice that is not brought to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting shall be cut off from his people.

PROHIBITION OF BLOOD
17:10-14

If anyone of the House of Israel or of the aliens who sojourn in their midst partakes of any blood, I shall oppose that person and cut that person off from among its people.  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have provided you the blood upon the Altar to seek atonement for your lives as it is the blood underlying the life that achieves expiation.  Further, if any of them hunts an animal or a bird in order to eat it, he must pour out its blood and cover it with earth, because the blood of all flesh underlies its life.

PROHIBITION OF DEAD OR TORN ANIMAL
17:15-16

If anyone, native or alien, eats an animal which has already died or is torn, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be impure until the evening, at which time he shall be pure.  Otherwise he shall bear his sin.

Sanctity of Human Intimacies

PROHIBITION OF ALIEN IMPURITIES
18:1-30

The Eternal charges Moses to warn the Children of Israel:  Do not follow the practice of the land of Egypt in which you dwelled, and do not follow the practice of the land of Canaan to which I am bringing you.  Follow My laws, not theirs, “I, the Eternal your God.”  Observe My statutes and ordinances, “by which a person may live” (Leviticus 18:5).

Do not have an intimate encounter with any of your blood relatives.  These include:

Your father, that is to say, your mother or your father’s wife;

Your sister, whether your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born in the household or outside;

Your granddaughter, whether the daughter of your son or the daughter of your daughter;

The daughter of your father’s wife, born in the household of your father, as she is your sister;

Your father’s sister, as she is your father’s flesh;

Your mother’s sister, as she is your mother’s flesh;

Your father’s brother, that is to say, his wife, as she is your aunt;

Your daughter-in-law, as she is your son’s wife; and

Your brother’s wife, as she is your brother’s intimate.

Do not have an intimate encounter with a woman and with her daughter, nor may you take in an intimate encounter the daughter of her son or the daughter of her daughter, as they are blood relatives and it would be incest.

Do not take your wife’s sister as a second wife to be intimate with her in your wife’s lifetime.

Do not approach a woman for intimacy during the period of her impurity.

Do not have intercourse with the wife of another and become impure through her.

Do not offer up your offspring to Molech, so that you do not profane the Name of your God, I  the Eternal.

Do not lie with a male in the manner of lying with a woman; it is an abomination.

Do not lie with any animal to become impure through it, and let no woman lie down before it; it is unnatural.

Do not subject yourselves to impurity by engaging in any of these practices as did the nations that I am expelling from before you.  When the Land is defiled, I visit its sin upon it, and the Land disgorges its inhabitants.  This is the consequence of the abominations performed by your predecessors in the Land.  So observe My statutes and My ordinances, both native and alien who sojourn among you.  Let the Land not disgorge you as it did your predecessors.  Whoever violate these laws will be cut off from the midst of their people.  Keep My charge, I, the Eternal, your God.

FROM THE PROPHETS

Haftarah for Shabbat Machar Chodesh
Erev Rosh Chodesh
I Samuel 20:18-42

David has fled from King Saul
in fear of Saul’s antagonism and jealousy.
He enlists the help of the King’s son Jonathan,
whom he loves and trusts,
to determine the degree of danger
he faces at Saul’s hand.

David Separates from Saul

Jonathan reveals his plan to David.  On the morrow the New Moon (Machar Chodesh) will be celebrated at the King’s table, and David’s absence will be noticed by the King.  They would wait two days to allow Saul to register his feelings in response to David’s absence.

On the first day Saul shows no outward response, as he thinks that David was prevented from participating in the meal because he is ritually impure.

When Saul notes David’s absence on the second day, he asks Jonathan about it.  Jonathan provides an explanation which attributes David’s absence to his wanting to honor his family in Bethlehem for a family sacrifice there.  At this Saul’s anger is kindled not only against David but also against Jonathan.  He calls Jonathan “the son of a perverse and rebellious woman,” accusing him of inheriting his mother’s disloyalty in his affection for David; and he declares, “For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingship will be established, so send for him and bring him to me, for he is deserving of death” (20:31)!  Jonathan protests, “Why should he be put to death?  What has he done?” (I Samuel 20:32)  At that Saul takes his spear as if to strike him (as he had done to David before; cf. I Samuel 18:11).

Seeing that his father is intent on putting David to death, Jonathan leaves the table.  His anger and embarrassment prevent him from eating on the second day of the month.  The next morning, the morning of the third day, David, according to plan, is waiting at the stone Ezel for a secret message from Jonathan regarding the King’s intentions towards David.

Jonathan takes a little lad with him to the designated field at the designated time.  Jonathan will shoot three arrows and order the lad to fetch them.  If he arranges and declares aloud that the arrows are between the lad and him, that will be a signal for David to gather them and return in peace, in the event that Saul bears him no enmity.  But, as Saul clearly demonstrated his murderous hostility to David, Jonathan shoots the arrows beyond the lad’s position and so declares aloud that the arrows are beyond the lad.  That is the signal for David not to return, for his own safety, in Jonathan’s words, “Go your way, for the Eternal has sent you away” (I Samuel 20:22)!

The lad, knowing nothing of the plan between David and Jonathan, gathers up the arrows and returns to Jonathan.  Jonathan sends the lad back to the city with his weapons.  After the lad is gone, David falls on his face to the ground and prostrates himself three times.  David and Jonathan kiss each other and weep with each other, David especially so.  Jonathan says to David, “Go in peace inasmuch as the two of us have sworn by the Name of the Eternal: May the Eternal be between me and you, between my offspring and your offspring for ever” (I Samuel 20:42).

FROM TALMUD AND MIDRASH

Leviticus Rabbah 21:8
Preparation before Entering

“The Eternal is speaking to Moses
after the death of the two sons of Aaron
when they drew near before the Eternal…”:
“Let Aaron not enter the Sanctuary
at any time…lest he die…
except under these conditions…

(Leviticus 16:1-3)

A similar note of caution:

“You shall make the robe…around its hem you shall make ornamentation resembling pomegranates of blue, purple and crimson, alternating with actual bells of gold.  Aaron shall wear this robe when he officiates, so that the sound may be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before the Eternal and when he leaves it.  Then he shall not die.”                                                       (Exodus 28:31,33-35)

Rabbi Chananiah ben Chachinai and Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai went to learn Torah with Rabbi Akiba at B’nei B’rak, and they stayed there for thirteen years.  Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai corresponded, so that he knew what was happening in his home.  Rabbi Chaninah, on the other hand, did not correspond, so he did not know what was happening in his home.  But his wife sent him a message: Your daughter has come of age, so come home to arrange her marriage!  But he did not go.

Rabbi Akiba, informed by the Holy Spirit, said to all of them:  Whoever has a daughter come of age should go home and arrange for her marriage.  Rabbi Chaninah understood what he meant, so he obtained permission to depart.  When he arrived home, he did not find his wife at home.  So he went to the place where women fill their pitchers with water, and eventually he heard someone call her name to fill her pitcher and leave.

He followed after her until she entered their house.  Then he entered after her without any warning.  Before she could recognize him, her spirit departed.  Master of the universe, he exclaimed, is this a just reward for this poor woman after waiting for me for thirteen years?  Whereupon her spirit returned to her body.

Said Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai: Among practices of which the Holy One, blessed be He, disapproves is to enter one’s own house without warning, not to mention the house of another.

Regarding the daughter who has come of age, Rav taught that if you are holding a male servant, free him and give her to him.

When Rabbi Yochanan went up to greet Rabbi Chaninah, he used to knock on the door, in accordance with, “that the sound may be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before the Eternal” (ibid.).

Leviticus Rabbah 21:10
Defender of Israel

“Thus shall Aaron enter the Sanctuary…
dressed with a sacred linen tunic,
linen breeches directly against his skin,
a linen sash,
and a linen turban….”
(Leviticus 16:3-4)

Why did the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) not enter wearing gold vestments?

Rabbi Simon taught in the name of Rabbi Joshua: Because the accused cannot be believed as a defender!  If the Kohen Gadol, who defends Israel, wore gold vestments, they would give Satan an opening to accuse: Yesterday they made a golden god, and today they want to serve in gold vestments!

Rabbi Joshua of Sichnin taught in the name of Rabbi Levi: In order to spare the treasury of Israel!

Rabbi Levi taught: To eschew prideful behavior, in accordance with, ”Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the King [interpteted here to mean ‘King of the universe’]…” (Proverbs 25:6)!

Sifra Acharey Mot Parshata 9:10, Perek 13:13
Talmud Sanhedrin 74a
Talmud Yoma 85a-85b
Live by them!

“Observe My statutes and My ordinances,
which a person shall perform
and by which he may live,
I am the Eternal.”
(Leviticus 18:5)

Heavenly Reward

“By which he may live” means life in the world to come, that is, life beyond this world!  Now, if you argue that those words refer only to life in this world and that one who performs them will live only until he finally dies, I maintain that those words (“by which he may live”) refer to the world to come because of the divine signature, “I am the Eternal,” which implies His faithfulness in providing our reward for performing His statutes and His ordinances!

Torah of Man

“Which a person shall perform…”—Rabbi Jeremiah derived from “a person” within The Torah of Kohanim (The Book of Leviticus) that any “person,” even a gentile, who performs what the Torah requires of him, is as entitled to the divine reward as the Kohen Gadol: “…and by which he may live!”

Indeed you do not actually find here such a verse as, “This is the Torah of Kohanim, Levites and Israelites,” but you do find, “This is the Torah of Man…” (II Samuel 7:19)!

Nor do you find, “Open the gates that Kohanim, Levites and Israelites may enter,” but you do find, “Open the gates that a righteous gentile, a true observer, may enter” (Isaiah 26:2)!

Nor, “This is the gate of the Eternal: only Kohanim, Levites and Israelites may enter it,” but you do find, “This is the gate of the Eternal: let the righteous enter it” (Psalms 118:20)!

Nor, “Rejoice in the Eternal, O you Kohanim, Levites and Israelites” but you do find, “Rejoice in the Eternal, O you righteous” (Psalms 33:1)!

Nor do you find, “Do good, O Eternal, only to those who are Kohanim, Levites and Israelites,” but you do find, “Do good, O Eternal, to those who are good” (Psalms 125:4)!

All of which goes to show that even a gentile who observes the Torah is as good as the Kohen Gadol!

Torah of Life

Said Rabbi Yochanan in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: It was decided by a majority vote in the upper chamber of the house of Nitza that one may violate a commandment of the Torah under duress except for idolatry, adultery or incest, and bloodshed.  But didn’t Rabbi Ishmael allow idolatry when one is threatened with death—on the basis of “Observe My statutes and My ordinances which a person shall perform and by which he may live” and therefore not die by them!  Yes, but only privately, not in public, because of the command: “You shall not profane My Holy Name, but I shall be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel” (Leviticus 22:32)!

Rabbi Ishmael, Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah were on a journey together, accompanied by Levi Hasaddar and Rabbi Ishmael son of Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah.  The following question was put forward: What is the basis for suspending Sabbath laws when they endanger life?

Rabbi Ishmael’s answer: It is inferred from, “If a thief is discovered breaking in…” (Exodus 22:1), wherein it is permitted to defend oneself even at the cost of the thief’s life.  For in that case it is uncertain whether the thief has come just to steal or also to kill.  Yet we are permitted to suspend the Torah’s law about bloodshed.  How much the moreso [kal vachomer] when life is certainly endangered by a law of Sabbath may the Torah’s law of Sabbath be suspended!

Rabbi Akiba’s answer: It is inferred from, “If one has intentionally killed another, you may take him from My Altar to die” (Exodus 21:14), where the Kohen is the one at the Altar and has evidence regarding the culpability of an accused, but not “from upon My Altar,” that is, when the Kohen had already begun the service!  Nonetheless Rabbah son of Bar Chana said that Rabbi Yochanan applied this only where the Kohen had evidence as to the accused’s guilt, but if he had evidence as to the accused’s innocence, then even “from upon My Altar,” that is, even if the Kohen with evidence had already begun the service!  Now in that case it is uncertain whether his evidence will be accepted or not, yet he interrupts the divine service, which itself suspends Sabbath laws (when sacrifices are burned on the Sabbath, etc.).  How much the moreso [kal vachomer] when life is certainly endangered by a law of Sabbath may the Torah’s law of Sabbath be suspended!

Rabbi Eleazar’s answer: It is inferred from brit milah (the covenant of circumcision), which overrides the Sabbath laws against its various procedures and which relates to only one of the 248 parts of the human body.  How much the moreso [kal vachomer] shall Sabbath laws be suspended when they relate to the saving of the whole body!

In addition, Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Judah inferred from, “Only shall you keep My Sabbaths…” (Exodus 31:13), “only” implying a limitation such as when keeping the Sabbath would endanger life!  Rabbi Jonathan son of Joseph cited the next verse, “…for it is holy to you…” (ibid. 14), “to you” is it given, not to it are you surrendered!  Rabbi Shimon ben Menassia interpreted the apparently redundant words which follow, “The Children of Israel shall guard the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations…” (ibid. 16), to mean: Profane for the sake of one’s life one Sabbath so that he can observe many Sabbaths thereafter!

Rav Judah reported that Samuel said:  Had I been there, I would have given an answer better than theirs.  “Observe My statutes and My ordinances which a person shall perform and by which he may live” and therefore not die by them!  Rava said:  All of the answers could be refuted except the answer of Samuel.

How could the others be refuted?  Regarding Rabbi Ishmael’s answer, inferring from, “If a thief is discovered breaking in…” (Exodus 22:1), his reasoning [kal vachomer] is based on the uncertainty of whether the thief is breaking in to steal or to murder.  But Rava argued that we can be certain that the thief would be prepared to murder since he knows that the homeowner would resist him and would be warranted by the Torah to kill him in self-defense.  Regarding Rabbi Akiba’s answer, inferring from, “If one has intentionally killed another, you may take him from [upon] My Altar to die” (Exodus 21:14), his reasoning [kal vachomer] is based on the uncertainty of whether the Kohen’s evidence will be accepted or not.  But Abaye argued that we should let a couple of scholars interview him while he is still upon the Altar whereupon we could be certain whether his evidence would be acceptable or not!

Similarly, the other answers, except for Samuel’s, can be refuted because all of them are based upon a situation where there is no doubt, when keeping the Sabbath would certainly endanger life.  Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Judah inferring from, “Only shall you keep My Sabbaths…” (Exodus 31:13), “only” implying a limitation, which we could safely assume would be a certain danger to life, not a matter of doubt!  Rabbi Jonathan son of Joseph inferring from, “…for it is holy to you…” (ibid. 14), “to you” is the Sabbath given, not to it are you surrendered.  When would you be surrendered to the Sabbath?  When it is certain that you would die as a result!  Rabbi Shimon ben Menassia inferring from, “The Children of Israel shall guard the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations…” (ibid. 16): Profane for the sake of one’s life one Sabbath so that he can observe many Sabbaths thereafter, in other words a certainty that he would otherwise die because of that one Sabbath!

But Samuel, inferring from, “Observe My statutes and My ordinances which a person shall perform and by which he shall live”: that a man shall observe the commandments when it is a certainty that he will live thereby; therefore, when it is uncertain that he will live thereby, when there is doubt, you may profane out of doubt!  How much the moreso [kal vachomer] when life is certainly endangered by a law of Sabbath may the Torah’s law of Sabbath be suspended!  Said Rabina, or possibly Rav Nachman son of Isaac: Better is one grain of sharp pepper than a basket full of gourds!

Talmud Pesachim 3a
Avoid Indecent Language

“It is the New Moon,
and the king is sitting at the table for the meal…
David’s place at the table is unoccupied,
but Saul says nothing on that day,
assuming that David experienced
an emission of semen which would render him impure,
and that in fact he is not pure.”
(I Samuel 20:24-26)

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi taught: Let no one ever utter an indecent word, for Scripture adds 8 (Hebrew) letters more than would be necessary, in order to circumvent an objectionable word, where Noah, his family, and the animals enter the Ark, “Some of the clean animals and some of the animals which are not clean [13 Hebrew letters]” (Genesis 7:8), instead of “unclean [5 Hebrew letters] animals.”

Rav Papa taught: Scripture adds 9 (Hebrew) letters more than would be necessary, in order to circumvent an objectionable word, where men are encamped for battle, “If there should be with you a man who is not pure [12 Hebrew letters] by reason of a nocturnal emission” (Deuteronomy 23:11), instead of “contaminated [3 letters] man.”  Rabina came up with an addition of 10 (Hebrew) letters there because he counted the Hebrew vowel-letter vav in the word tahor (pure).

Rav Acha bar Ya’akov taught: Scripture adds 16 (Hebrew) letters more than would be necessary, in order to circumvent an objectionable word, where Saul assumes “that David experienced an emission of semen which would render him impure, and that in fact he is not pure [22 letters]” (I Samuel 20:24-26), instead of “that David experienced an emission of semen; he is contaminated [6 letters].”

Talmud Arachin 16b
How far must we go in reproving another?

When King Saul observes that David is absent from the King’s table
for both the New Moon
and the day after it,
he asks his son Jonathan to explain David’s absence.
Jonathan answers that David asked his permission
to be away at a sacrificial event of his family in Bethlehem.

“Saul becomes angry at Jonathan…” (I Samuel 20:30)
“As long as that son of Jesse is alive…you and your kingship will not be established,
so bring him to me, as he is sentenced to death!” (Ibid. 31)

“Jonathan answers Saul his father,
Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’” (Ibid. 32)

“Then Saul casts his spear at him to strike him…” (Ibid. 33)

“Hate not your brother in your heart;
instead you must surely reprove him
and not bear sin because of him.”
(Leviticus 19:17)

Jonathan objected to Saul’s unfounded hostility towards his friend David and thus observed the Torah’s admonition by standing up to his father the King and reproving him: “’Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’” (I Samuel 20:32)  Three great Sages of the Talmud—Rav, Samuel, and Rabbi Yochanan—held different views on how far one must go in reproving someone.  There was already a similar disagreement on this subject among earlier Teachers, based upon their interpretation of this incident between Jonathan, the reprover, and Saul, the king:

Ben Azzai set the requirement to the point where the person being reproved becomes angry at the reprover, as in this case, when “Saul becomes angry at Jonathan…” (I Samuel 20:30).

Rabbi Joshua set the requirement further, to the point where the person being reproved utters a curse on the reprover, as in this case, when Saul says to Jonathan, “As long as that son of Jesse is alive…you and your kingship will not be established…” (Ibid. 31).

Rabbi Eliezer set the highest requirement for reproof, to the point where the person being reproved actually acts to strike the reprover, as in this case, when “Saul casts his spear at him to strike him…” (Ibid. 33).

So, as Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak points out, all three of the differing opinions are based upon the same incident and set of verses!  So, for example, it could be asked of the one who sets the requirement at mere anger, what do you say about the verses that seem to support striking or curse?  The answer: We cannot extrapolate general guidance from that incident for anything more than anger because there Jonathan would have given his life for David because of his overwhelming affection for him.  Whereas the question of how far one must go in reproving someone must apply to the general public.

SHABBAT SHALOM!

Copyright © 2022 Eric H. Hoffman

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