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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Hilchos Melachim’

Are Women Obligated To Hear Parshas Zachor?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

This week we read Parshas Zachor. There is a mitzvas asei for one to remember what Amalek did to us while on the road as we left Mitzrayim. If one does not remember he will have transgressed a lo sa’aseh. The Sifrei, in Parshas Ki Seitzei, says that the way in which one is to remember is by reading the parshah in the Torah that discusses Amalek’s attack, and the commandment to remember and annihilate Amalek found at the end of Parshas Ki Seitzei. The Gemara, in Megillah 30a, says that we should read Parshas Zachor prior to Purim so that the remembrance of what Amalek did should be adjacent to the reading of his annihilation.

The Sefer HaChinuch states in mitzvah 603 that women are exempt from the mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us. He explains that this is because it is not upon women to wage war against and avenge the enemy. It is evident that the Chinuch holds that the mitzvah of remembering Amalek’s action against us is a prerequisite to the mitzvah of annihilating Amalek; therefore the fact that women are not obligated in the war against Amalek is reason to exempt them from the mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us.

The Minchas Chinuch asks several questions on the Chinuch’s ruling. One point he raises is that the Gemara in Sotah 44b says that everyone must go to war for a milchemes mitzvah – even a kallah from her chuppah. Additionally one can question the Chinuch’s writing in mitzvah 425 regarding the mitzvah that even women are obligated to fulfill, namely to kill the seven nations. Evidently women are obligated to wage war, and thus even according to the Chinuch’s logic (that the two mitzvos are connected) they should be obligated in the mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us.

My rebbe, Reb Shmuel Birnbaum, zt”l, suggested that we can differentiate between the mitzvah to annihilate Amalek and the other mitzvos. The words of the Chinuch indicate that, in his opinion, the mitzvah of annihilating Amalek is in essence to take revenge. As the Chinuch says: ”for it is upon men to wage war and avenge the enemy – and not women.” Regarding the mitzvah to destroy the seven nations, the Chinuch writes that “the seven nations started worshiping all sorts of idols… therefore we are commanded to destroy them… by performing this mitzvah and succeeding to annihilate them we will have benefited, for we will no longer be able to learn from their ways.” The source for this (regarding the obligation to kill the seven nations) is the pasuk in Devarim 20:18: “So that they will not teach you to act according to all the abominations that they performed for their gods.”

The essence of the mitzvah to annihilate the seven nations is to rid the word of evil and bad influences. The essence of the mitzvah to annihilate Amalek is to avenge them. Women are obligated to go to war; however, when the essence of the war is to avenge, they are exempt. As the Chinuch says, it is upon the men – and not the women – to avenge. Therefore for a milchemes mitzvah or to kill the seven nations, women are obligated. They are only exempt from the milchamah against Amalek, since it is a war whose purpose is to take revenge.

Reb Shmuel added that there is a possible nafka mina (difference) between the two mitzvos. If there is one who is about to die on his own, is there an obligation to kill him? If he is an Amaleki, we would still be obligated to kill him to take revenge. But if he is from the seven nations, where the purpose of the mitzvah is to rid the world of evil influences, perhaps there would not be an obligation to kill him since he is going to die anyway and thus not influence either way.

I want to suggest another answer to the Minchas Chinuch’s questions on the Chinuch. The Radvaz, in his commentary to the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 7:4) where the Rambam writes that for a milchemes mitzvah even a kallah from her chuppah must go to war, asks the following based on Tehillim 45: “Is it the derech for women to go to war? Does the pasuk not say that the glory of a woman is inside?” The Radvaz answers that perhaps the role that the women assumed in the war was to bring provisions to their husbands.

Based on this, we can explain that although women are an integral part of the war they do not partake in the actual killing of the enemy. As previously mentioned, the Chinuch is of the opinion that the mitzvah of remembering what Amalek did to us is a prerequisite to the mitzvah of annihilating Amalek – for as the Rambam, in Hilchos Melachim 5:5 and Sefer HaMitzvos mitzvas asei 189, explains: one should bring himself to remember what Amalek did to us so that he has the mindset to wage war. We can suggest that only one who is obligated to partake in the actual killing of Amalek is obligated to remember what Amalek did to us. Therefore women are exempt, since they do not partake in the actual killing of Amalek.

Why Did They Kill The Entire City?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

In this week’s parshah we read of the incident involving Dinah and Shechem, the son of Chamor, the nasi of the city of Shechem. Upon learning that Dinah was abducted by Shechem, Shimon and Levi killed all the male residents of the city, including Shechem and Chamor. There are various opinions that explain what the rational of Shimon and Levi was in killing all the inhabitants of the city.

 

The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 9:14) says one of the seven commandments that the bnei Noach are obligated to follow is to set up a judicial system that will judge people who transgress any of the mitzvos that bnei Noach are required to follow. It is also the role of these courts to carry out punishment when a ben Noach transgresses. The punishment of a ben Noach for transgressing any of their mitzvah obligations is sa’if  (decapitation). If a ben Noach witnesses a transgression by another ben Noach, he must bring him to judgment. If he does not do this, the witness is deserving of punishment for not enacting judgment on the transgressor. The Rambam concludes that it is for this reason that the entire population of the city of Shechem was deserving of the death penalty, for they all knew that Shechem kidnapped Dinah – but did not judge him. Therefore they were all guilty of not enacting judgment, thus deserving of the death penalty.

 

The Ramban disagrees with the Rambam and asks the following questions: If everyone in the whole city was guilty and deserved the death penalty, why then did Yaakov Avinu not kill them himself? And if he was afraid of them, why did he disapprove of Shimon and Levi’s actions? After all, they believed in Hashem and did what was right. Additionally, the Ramban disagrees that a ben Noach is not killed when he does not bring another to judgment, since it is a positive commandment and bnei Noach are only killed when they transgress a negative commandment.

 

The Ramban writes that the residents of Shechem in fact deserved death, but for other reasons. He says that all of the seven nations of Cena’an worshiped idols and transgressed with arayos (immoral relations) and many other abominations whereby they deserved death. However, Yaakov believed that the penalty for these actions was not for Shimon and Levi to carry out. Additionally, Yaakov knew that they did not kill them for this reason, but rather in retaliation for what happened to Dinah. Thus he disapproved, and scorned them for acting out their anger.

 

The Ramban adds that when Yaakov initially heard all of his sons telling Shechem and his father to circumcise the entire city’s populace, he did not object because he thought that they would only use this ploy to rescue Dinah and then leave. Indeed while the rest of the brothers only intended to rescue Dinah, Shimon and Levi intended to take further action.

 

I want to suggest that according to the Rambam we can better understand the reason that Shimon and Levi did not kill the women of Shechem. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Melachim 9:14) that a woman cannot testify against, or judge, a ben Noach. Therefore the women of the city were not guilty of not trying Shechem, since there was nothing they could have done about it. However, according to the Ramban it is not clear why Shimon and Levi did not kill the female inhabitants of the city, since in his view they too deserved the death penalty. Perhaps they felt that in order to achieve retaliation it would suffice to only kill the male inhabitants, even though the females deserved death as well.  Additionally, this may have been an indication to Yaakov Avinu that they were acting solely out of retaliation and not to carry out the penalty that was due them.

 

The Ramban, in his dispute with the Rambam, said that although the residents of Shechem and the rest of Cena’an deserved the death penalty, it was not incumbent on Yaakov or his sons to carry out the judgment. I believe that the Rambam disagrees with the Ramban on this point. The Rambam (Hilchos Melachim 10:11) writes that the beis din of Yisrael is obligated to arrange judges for the gerim ha’toshavim that will judge them according to their laws, unless they see that they have their own judges. The Rambam adds that this is for the sake of the world.

 

The Maharam Shik (Teshuvos Orach Chaim 142) writes that according to this Rambam, beis din in Eretz Yisrael has an obligation to establish courts for the gerim ha’toshavim, comprised of either fellow gerim ha’toshavim or Jewish judges. Outside Ertetz Yisrael, beis din does not have this obligation. But if beis din wishes to establish a court system in order to maintain the correct lifestyle, they have this right – and are “zocheh la’shamayim.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-did-they-kill-the-entire-city/2011/12/07/

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