web analytics
January 27, 2015 / 7 Shevat, 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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli soldiers praying as IDF forces seen reinforcing presence in the Golan Heights Northern Israel.
Two Missiles Explode in Golan Heights; IDF Returns Fire
Latest Judaism Stories
Tissot_The_Waters_Are_Divided

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

Parshat Bo

Before performing the 10th plague God makes a fundamental argument about the ultimate nature of justice.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Life Before The Printed Word
‘A Revi’is Of Blood’
(Yevamos 114a-b)

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.

Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah.

The tenderest description of the husband/wife relationship is “re’im v’ahuvim/loving, kind friends”

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

Suddenly, she turns to me and says, “B’emet, I need to thank you, you made me excited to come back to Israel.”

Pesach is called “zikaron,” a Biblical term used describing an object eliciting a certain memory

Recouping $ and assets from Germans and Swiss for their Holocaust actions is rooted in the Exodus

Pharaoh perverted symbols of life (the Nile and midwives) into agents of death.

I think that we have to follow the approach of the Tannaim and Amoraim. They followed the latest scientific developments of their time.

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

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Brisker Rav suggests that the barad, in fact, only fell on people, animals, and vegetation.

Why is it necessary to perform an aveirah punishable by lashes in order to be deemed a legal rashah and be pasul l’eidus m’d’Oraisa?

Why was Yaakov not afraid that granting Yosef’s sons the status of shevatim would cause jealousy among his children?

Rav Akiva Eiger is assuming that the logic of the halacha that both the son and his mother are obligated to honor his father and therefore he must honor his fathers wishes first, is a mathematical equation.

It is clear that Tosafos maintains that only someone who lives in a house must light Chanukah candles.

But how could there have been any validity to Yosef’s allegations?

If one converts for the sole purpose of marrying a Jew the conversion is invalid.

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: