web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Punishment Of The Mekoshesh

At the conclusion of this week’s parshah, the Torah writes about the mekoshesh eitzim – the individual who desecrated Shabbos in the midbar by gathering wood. The pasuk says that since it was uncertain what the halacha was concerning one who is mechallel Shabbos, the mekoshesh was placed in custody until Hashem gave instructions as to what to do. Hashem then told Moshe Rabbeinu that the man is to be put to death by stoning; and so he was.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin 78b says that it was certain that one who desecrates Shabbos deserves death – as the pasuk states earlier: “mechallelehah mos yumas” (Shemos 31:14). The only uncertainty was the form of death he should receive.

Tosafos in Sanhedrin asks why Moshe was uncertain as to what form of death the mekoshesh deserved. Since the Torah previously said that one who desecrates Shabbos should be put to death, the general rule is that unless otherwise specified the Torah refers to chenek (strangulation) when ordering death. Tosafos answers that Moshe reasoned that one who desecrates Shabbos in public is likened to one who does avodah zarah, since by desecrating Shabbos in public one denies that Hashem created the world (Chullin 5a). Therefore Moshe thought that perhaps the punishment for desecrating Shabbos in public should be by stoning, which would follow the same punishment for one who does avodah zarah. However, Hashem answered that one who desecrates Shabbos deserves stoning for the aveirah of desecrating Shabbos alone.

Reb Akiva Eiger asks a powerful question on Tosafos. According to Tosafos there is room to say that one who is mechallel Shabbos is punished in the same way as one who does avodah zarah. How then can we learn from this incident that one who is mechallel Shabbos in private deserves death by stoning? Perhaps Hashem agreed with Moshe’s logic that when one is mechallel Shabbos in public it is comparable to doing avodah zarah (which is punishable by stoning), and thus it was for that reason that the mekoshesh was stoned. But one who is mechallel Shabbos in private is not compared to one who performs avodah zarah and therefore should not deserve death by stoning – but rather by strangulation – since the Torah did not specify the form of death he deserves.

Reb Elchanan Wasserman, Hy”d (Kovetz Shiurim Baba Basra 356), based on Tosafos in Baba Basra 119 (d”h shenemar), explains that Moshe Rabbeinu understood that the halacha of a mechallel Shabbos in public must be the same as one who does it in private, since they are both derived from the aforementioned pasuk, “mechallelehah mos yumas.” He questioned whether both (public and private desecrations of Shabbos) deserve strangulation, in compliance with the general rule that death is by strangulation unless specified otherwise, or since regarding chillul Shabbos in public there is reason to assume that it deserves stoning. (Stoning is more stringent and likened to avodah zarah; therefore the entire pasuk refers to stoning.) Hence, even a mechallel Shabbos in private would deserve stoning.

Rabbeinu Bichaya, on this parshah, says that when Hashem informed Moshe as to what to do with the mekoshesh the pasuk repeats the fact that he was deserving of death, for as it says, “mos yumas ha’ish; ragom oso ba’avanim – the man shall be put to death; stone him.” Why does the Torah reiterate that the mekoshesh deserved death? After all, the Gemara says that Moshe was certain about that and only questioned the form of death. Rabbeinu Bichaya explains that the extra words, “mos yumas,” were written in order to connect this pasuk to the earlier pasuk, “mechallelehah mos yumas.” In other words the Torah is explaining that it was earlier referring to stoning, when it wrote “mos yumas” regarding the halacha about one who desecrates the Shabbos.

I want to suggest that even a mechallel Shabbos in private is comparable to avodah zarah. The Gemara that states that the act of chillul Shabbos done only in public is referring to when one becomes a mumar for all of the Torah. However, even in private the aveirah of desecrating Shabbos is comparable to avodah zarah. Rashi, in Chullin 5a, explains that one who does avodah zarah denies Hashem’s existence. One who is mechallel Shabbos denies Hashem’s actions, for he is testifying that Hashem did not rest by ma’asei bereishis. This should apply to one who desecrates Shabbos in public – as well as in private.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Punishment Of The Mekoshesh”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Anti-Semitic DNB card sent in 'error' from Norway's largest bank.
Anti-Semitic Bank Card Emerges in Norway
Latest Judaism Stories
Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The common translation of the opening words of this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei, is: “When you go out to war against your enemy.” Actually the text reads “al oyvecha” upon your enemy. The Torah is saying that when Israel goes out to war, they will be over and above their enemy. The reason why Bnei […]

Rabbi Avi Weiss

The love between Gd & Israel is deeper than marriage; beyond the infinite love of parent for child

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: When a stranger approaches a congregant in shul asking for tzedakah, should the congregant verify that the person’s need is genuine? Furthermore, what constitutes tzedakah? Is a donation to a synagogue, yeshiva, or hospital considered tzedakah?

Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot.

Each month is associated with a particular tribe. The month of Elul is matched up with Gad. What makes Gad unique?

Sanctions and indictment of the Jew, holding him to a higher standard, is as common and misplaced as ever.

To allow for free will, there are times when Hashem will allow a person the “opportunity to be the messenger.”

“There is a mitzvah to pay the worker on that day,” answered Mr. Lerner.

Be happy. Be grateful. God knows what he is doing. It is all happening for a reason.

We get so busy living our lives, handling our day-to-day little crises that we forget to go that one step deeper and appreciate our lives.

The promise for long life only comes from 2 commandments; What’s the connection between them?

Mighty Amalek deliberately attacked enemy’s weakest members, despicable even by ancient standards

If we parents fail to honor responsibilities then society’s children will pay the price for our sins

Consider how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees His children adopting all other parents but Him

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Since giving the machatzis hashekel will not change his financial situation, he is obligated to do so even though it is more than a fifth of his income.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

We can suggest that since Hashem Himself appointed Dovid there is no question. The rules are only in place for when we must chose a king ourselves.

Perhaps a careful reading of the pesukim in the parsha will shed light on this dilemma.

The second parshah of Shema is referring to keeping the rest of the mitzvos, and there the Torah does not require that one spend all of his money in order to perform the mitzvos.

Why would Moshe Rabbeinu have thought that the vow that disallowed him to enter Eretz Yisrael was annulled simply because he was allowed to conquer and enter the land of Sichon and Og?

In addition to the restrictions of Tisha B’Av, there are several restrictions that one may not perform during the week that Tisha B’Av falls in.

We do not find that Pinchas was chastised for what he did; on the contrary he was greatly rewarded.

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-punishment-of-the-mekoshesh/2012/06/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: