Parshas Ki Seitzei: Balanced Lessons

By Rabbi Yosef Tropper
Posted on 09/12/19

1) Shiluach Hakein – don’t turn a gezeira into rachamim

We have the pasuk about shiluach hakein.  Perek 22, pasuk 7.  “Shalei’ach t’shalach es ha’eim.”  Send away the mother.  “v’es habanim tikach lach.”  Take the children for yourself.  “L’maan yitav lach.”  So, you’ll have a good life.  “v’ha’arachta yamim.”  Have a long life.  And, the gemara tells us a famous thing in berachos that if you say: Oh, Hashem has rachmanus on the kan tzipor, on the birds.  Mishaskin oso.  You tell him to be quiet.  And, one pshat in the gemara is because it’s as if you are making Hashem’s laws as if they are just based on rachamim alone, and really they are gezeiros. 

Kibud Av V’eim and Shiluach Hakein both promise long life and are opposite extremes

Gra points out a very interesting thing, and it’s an interesting psychological point, and he says that the two mitzvos that we find in the Torah that promise us long life are Shiluach Hakein, if you send away the mother bird, and also Kibud Av V’eim, and why is that?  He says whaat’s interesting is that they have extremes to them.  One of them is the extreme of rachmanus.  A person is merciful and loving towards his parents.  And, the other one is achzariyus.  Hashem asks us to do something that seems to be very, very cruel.  We’re taking away, sending away a mother bird from its baby, and so the pshat is that that tests you to see whether you do mitzvos because that’s just your personality.  You’re just a generous guy, so you like to give charity.  

But, what about when Hashem tells you to do something hard.  So, the exact barometer, so to speak, that determines whether you follow Hashem because you follow what He tells you, or because it’s just you’re personality and you happen to like that.  Like, you don’t eat milk and meat because you don’t like the way it tastes.  No, you don’t do it because Hashem tells you not to do it.  It’s a chok.  And, so, when a person can exibit and show: Hashem look: I could stretch and I could be full of rachmanus when it comes to my parents because You told me to, and I could stretch and be full of achzarius towards this bird, sending away the mother from the baby because You told me to, that’s the barometer, the litmus test that shows that you’re doing it only because of Hashem.  And, says the Gra, that’s why it says by the Akeidah: Atah yadati.  Hashem says: Now I know.  What do you mean “Now I know that you’re a great person, that you followed me”?  Because I asked you to do chesed you did that, but now I asked you to do achzarius, you did that.  And, that’s the pshat that when a person chose both extremes, that’s how he shows that he’s doing it because of Hashem.  Not because of personal style. 

2) It takes ten generations to get the mamzeirus out

We have a pasuk: Perek 23, pasuk 3.  “Lo yavo mamzer b’kahal Hashem gam dor asiri.”  And, the gemara tells us in Yevamos 78b that Reish Lakish says that a mamzer or mamzeres, after ten generations she’s muteres.  So, what’s the pshat that Reish Lakish says that there’s still some existence of mamzeirus of the father who’s a mamzer in this generation, ten generations later that it takes ten generations to get out.  So, and not only that, but there are other sources for ten generations which is also in Gittin 88a, ayein sham, I’m not going to go into it right now.

After ten generations the mamzeirus is bateil b’shiur beriah

Gra says that the pshat is that the father and the mother are shutafim, are partners that bring out a child.  And, so the father sort-of fifty percent and the mother is fifty-percent, of course, Hashem is also a partner, so the bottom line is that when you keep dividing that influence that that first father puts into the child.  So, for example, when you go to the forth generation, so meaning the three generations down, so the four children down, so it’s going to end up that he’s only a quarter or an eighth, and when you get to the fourth generation he’s only going to be a sixtienth.  And, in the fifth generation he’s going to be one thirty-second, do the math.  The sixth generation he’s going to be one sixty-fourth.  The seventh generation he’s going to be one in a hundred in twenty-eight.  And, in the eighth generation he’s going to be one in two-hundred and fifty-six.  And, in the nineth generation he’ll be one in five-hundred and twelve.  So, in the tenth generation the power of the father only has one percent out of a thousand and twenty-four chalakim.  So, therefore it’s bateil b’shiur beriah.  Which is one in nine-hundred and sixty like the Yerushalmy in Teruma says.  So, the bottom line is that there’s a bitul that takes place, and, finally, the negative power has left.

The influence of the parents is very, very deep

So, what I wanted to say is that you see that the influence of the parents is very, very deep.  Ten generations it’s there, and what do we have to instill in our children is a great person and tremendous amounts of yiras Shalayim and ahavas Hashem.

3) Dibur is harsh and told over without explanation; Amira is soft and told over with explanation

Perek 23, pasuk 5.  “Al dvar asheir lo kidmu eschem b’lechem u’v’mayim.”  You’re not allowed to marry a Moavi because they didn’t greet you with bread and water.  The Gra says that there’s a difference between dibur and amira.  Chazal tells us that dibur is kasha, is harsh, and amira is always soft, but there’s another one and that is that whenever it says the word dibur, not only is it harsh, but it also means: just say it over, and don’t explain it.  But, amira means explain it, say it. 

Dovid is considered invalid when the “lo yavo Amoni u’Moavi b’kahal Hashem” is not explained

For example the Gra says that Dovid Hamelech says in Tehillim, “Sarim radfuni chinam, u’midivarcha pachad libi.”  I was scared of your words Hashem.  Then he says, “sas anochi al imrasecha”.  I’m very happy “k’motzei shalal rav”.  What’s the pshat?  Doeg and Achitofel, who hated Dovid, they ran after him to say that he’s invalid.  He can’t be a king, and he can’t even join the Jewsih nation because he comes from Moav, he comes from Rus, and the pasuk says, “Lo yavo Amoni v’Moavi b’kahal Hashem”, which is the pasuk that we just read.  So, if you don’t explain the pasuk, which is what Dovid is saying in Tehillim, “sarim radfuni chinam, u’midvarecha pachad libi” because without any explanation given, that’s how they invalidated me.  But, “sas anochi al imrasecha”, when I elaborate on the words of Hashem, and when I understand it because, no, there’s a reason given.  It says, “lo kidmu eschem b’lechem u’v’mayim”, and that only applies to the men that were expected to go out, but the women were not.  And, therefore, women are allowed.  So, that’s the pshat.  That when they come b’dvarecha, just misquoting Your words and not explaining anything, then they say that I’m pasul, but “sas anochi al imrasecha”, when they explain Your words Hashem, then I see that there’s so much more to it, and, of course, I’m allowed into the kahal.

4) The nature of a person is to take the good for granted and to draw attention to a present situation when it is negative

Perek 24, pasuk 1.  “Ki yikach ish isha.”  It talks about marriage. We know there’s a famous gemara in Berachos 8a that it says they would ask the chosson in Eretz Yisrael when he got married is she a matza or a motza.  Is she a matza, “Isha matza tov”, is she a blessing?  Or, is she a “Motza ani mar mimaves”, bitter, worse than death.  And, the Gra says: What’s the pshat?  So, “matza” is in the past, and, “motza”, is in the present.  He says: It’s human nature that when a person has something good he takes it for granted and doesn’t appreciate it.  So, “Matza isha matza tov,” there’s a tendency we have to be careful not to do this, but “Yeah, I found it in the past.  Whatever.  I don’t appreciate my spouse.”  No.  A person has to always appreciate their spouse more and more.  But, when someone is in pain, and something bad is happening to them, or they’re not happy with something, then “motza ani mar mimaves”, then they have a tendency to bring that out, and to draw attention to the present situation and to feel like there and ever present, and that’s a bad middah that we have.  We need to work on that. 

5) According to the Gra one must be careful not to break tanaaim

“Ki yikach ish isha”, at the end of the pasuk it says when you take a woman, so there’s the famous shittas haGra that one should be very, very careful about not breaking tanaaim.  I’m not going to go into that because it’s not really relevant. 

6) There are three shitas as to what are valid grounds for divorce

So, we know there’s a parsha of the Torah of geirushin, not something anyone wants.  It’s a last resort.  So, the pasuk says that “lo simtza chein b’einav”.  It’s a machlokes in the gemara Gittin 90a. Beis Shamai says the person can’t get divorced unless he finds an ervas davar.  He finds that she was not faithful to him or there’s something very, very wrong in halacha.  Beis Hillel says: No, that even if she burns his meal, he could divroce her.  That’s grounds for divorce.  And, Rebbi Akiva says: No, even if he finds someone na’ah heimenu, someone that’s prettier than her, that’s enough that he could divorce her.  What does this mean?  Rabbi Akiva, the great Rebbi Akiva.  How could he say this? 

There are more strict rules regarding zivug rishon than for zivug sheini

So, the gemara says: Zivug rishon, zivug sheini, it depends what’s going on that zivug rishon a person should hold on to longer.  Zivug sheini is not as strict.  Obviously we’re not going into what that means.

Three shitos of divorce refer to zivug rishon, zivug sheini and eishes yifas Toar

Gra says like this that that’s the pshat in the pasuk.  “ki yikach ish isha”, the man gets married, “ki matza ba ervas davar”.  The pasuk says that he got married, his zivug rishon, his first wife, he should only divorce her if there’s real grounds that there’s irvas davar, like Beis SHamai’s opinion.  Then, “v’yatza m’beiso vhalacha habaysa l’shachar”, a second marriage.  “U’sneih ha’isha ha’acharon” he hates her.  So, he could divorce her.  That’s zivug sheini, and that’s “U’snei’ah”, like Beis Hillel says: She burned his meal.  Maybe it’s on purpose.  She’s spiting him.  So, that’s enough.  That’s “eilu v’eilu divrei Elokim chaim”.  That’s the pshat.  And, what’s the pshat of Rabbi Akiva?  That’s YIfas Toar.  When it comes to the Yifas Toar.  “V’lo chafatzta bah”, he doesn’t want her because he married her for the wrong intentions, so he’s going to divorce her with very little grounds.

Someone who feels that burnt food is a grounds for divorce doesn’t deserve to be married

I heard from my Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Refael Moshe Getinger shlita that when we made a siyum on Meseches GIttin in Southbend, Indiana, so he said that the pshat is that if a person feels that it’s grounds for divorce just because she burned it or because there’s someone more beautiful, then he doesn’t deserve to be married.  What kind of attitude?  That’s not a Jewish attitude at all. 

7) The letters Gimmel and Taf are never found next to each other in the Torah

There’s a famous Gra that says that the word Get, which is a sefer krisus, the word get, the letters Gimmel and Taf are never found in the Torah next to each other, but Rav Chaim Kanievsky points out that this is not true.  That first of all, there are other letters that are not found, like Gimel Kuf, or Zet or Zatz or Satz also are not found, but the pshat is that Get are the first two letters that are not found, and that’s what the Gra was saying.  And also Get is b’Gematria twelve, so there’s twelve lines in the Get.  There’s other pshatim as well.  There is a pasuk where there are words that it is found, and there the word is talking about discord and disconnection.  There’s some fascinating things about sefer Devarim and how that ties into Get in that first Tosfos in Gittin.  We’re not going to go into that for right now. 

Gimmel and Taf are the most disconnected letters which hints to the utter separation of divorce

So, just to explain this quote from the Gra which is found in the Kisvei Refael ben Rav Aryeh Levine and other places.  He explains more explicitly that the letters Gimel and Taf are so separate from each other that you will not find them connecting in any word, in a shoresh you’ll never find them or in any word in Tanach including, they’re not even interchangeable in the Zesharatz and the different gutterals and dentals and other ways that things are expressed.  And, again that shows that there’s, well he says that it shows that there’s an utter separation, but there’s a deeper meaning which is that the cause of the divorce itself is because there’s so little compatibility that they’re not able to connect with each other.  

8) “Even Shleimah” hints to the Gra

Finally, no explanations of the Gra are complete without mentioning the pasuk itself that’s merameiz to the Gra.  Perek 25, pasuk 15.  “Even shleimah v’tzedek yihiyeh lach.  Eifah shleimah v’tzedek yihiyeh lach.”  You have to have a fair and honest measurements and the Gra said that his name itself is hinted in “even shleimah” is Eliyahu ben Shlomo.  That was his father, and the mefarshim explain that the greatness of the Gra is very, very important and some of his talmidim even wrote that it’s specifically an Aleph that stands for Eliyahu because Aleph is the word Pelah.  And, he was the Vilna Gaon.  He was a Pelah what he he knew and what he understood, he was a unique person in his generation that was from generations beyond, and as we study his Torah we gain a greater appreciation obviously of Hashem and the beauty of the Torah, but also of the Vilna Gaon, a man who dedicated himself to the Torah and what he accomplished in Torah.  We should all be zocheh to follow in his footsteps.


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Rabbi Yosef Tropper is a rabbi and psychotherapist. Subscribe at