Friday, August 20, 2010

[KollelH blog] Ki Seitzay

WAR! That's what the 'bookends' of our parshah speak about. Though we don't like to judge books by their covers, the parshah's beginning with מלחמת רשות and ending with the מלחמת מצוה against Amalek, has a message for us regarding the rest of the parshah as well.

....וראית בשביה אשת יפת תואר וחשקת בה  "And you will see amongst the captives a woman of nice appearance, and you will want her.... Chazal say that the words וחשקת בה teach us that even if the woman looks מכוערת- displeasing, if you want her, the halachos of the following p'sukim apply.

If so, asks the Ohr Hachaim, aren't the words אשת יפת תואר - a woman of nice appearance, superfluous? As long as the soldier would like her, he may take her, so why does the Torah mention the nice appearance?

Using some of  Ohr Hachaim's lengthy answer but deviating somewhat, I would like to share an approach to the whole parshah with our readers.

The Ramban says that if the captive willingly accepts גרות , the rest of the halachos do not apply. She is accepted as any proselyte without any other conditions. The limitations set in the parshah only apply to the captive woman who unwillingly accepts her fate. Then, a very different procedure of גרות is required.

We find in other parshios commentators who write that when the Torah describes a nice physical appearance of someone, it is because they have attained some spiritual perfection which is expressed in their appearance.

According to the above, we can understand the parshah to be referring to two entirely different situations. Assuming the יפת תואר's inner beauty plays a role in the Torah's description here, we can say that she would accept the גרות wholeheartedly! She can then be married as a regular Jewish woman would. 'וחשקת בה' on the other hand, refers to a woman who lacks the aforementioned spirituality. She is only being מגיירת because of her plight. Only she requires the special process of גרות  mentioned in the parshah.

Consequently, these two women may even be married to the same soldier, since the limitation of taking one and not two women ( בה- ולא בה וחברתה ) only applies to unwilling  proselytes.

Rashi says our subject flows into the next two paragraphs in our parshah. This affirms our understanding that the soldier married both women, as the Torah describes a man who is married to two women, one who is אהובה - beloved, and the other שנואה - disliked. (see ba'al haturim that this refers to a recommended and unrecommended marriage) The parshah then ends with the ill-fated בן סורר ומורה . With the approach above we can safely assume that he was born to the unwilling מכוערת, who was taken as a result of וחשקת בה.

The question remains, why is the displeasing woman described as  וחשקת בה? The Malbim says the term חשק refers to a new appreciation for something that was not naturally or originally desired. It is a desire that one creates and develops a taste for on his own. The words וחשקת בה then, is a VERY precise description of a naturally displeasing woman, which someone has developed an unnatural desire for, on his own. This is similar to what Chazal call a מגרה יצר הרע someone who draws upon himself a new desire that he did not naturally have.

Hashem provides us with the perfect balance of spiritual and material tendencies for our challenges in life, and growth. For the challenges Hashem has given us, there are clear, guaranteed methods for success. Any new desires we train ourselves into appreciating is an "enter at your own risk" zone. The regular help of Heaven afforded to G-D given challenges, is not provided for these. This was the first step in the downfall of the miraglim as Hashem told Moshe " שלח לך - send the spies for your own interest, this is not an endeavour that I placed you into".

Here lies the message of our parshah. Please note that every (I think) מצות עשה in parshas KI seitzay  begins with KI - if or when. meaning that we are dealing with mitzvos that are NOT inevitable. All the mitzvos arise through scenarios which not necessarily have to happen. Most are situations which we, or others brought upon ourselves voluntarily. Parshas Ki seitzay introduces all of these 'מלחמות רשות' with the warning of the bleak end of the בן סורר ומורה. The only wars the that Torah recommends, are the ones that must be fought. Amalek pounced upon us without any 'invitation' from our side. Those are the only type of challenges we can hope for success in, the ones that are thrown upon us without any volunteering on our end. 

The natural domain of the יצר הרע is our שס'ה גידין - to challenge us by enticing us to commit any, or all of the 365 negative commandments. The word מגרה - (the one who draws desire upon himself) has the numerical value of 248, this signifies the extended arena of רמ'ח מצוות עשה challenges that the  יצר הרע has control over, when we develope nisyonos for ourselves.

Have a great Shabbos!

Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 8/20/2010 05:52:00 PM

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