Parashas Ki Seitzei

This week’s parashah discusses a wide variety of mitzvos, some presented previously and some presented now for the first time. One of these mitzvos is hashavas aveidah – returning a lost object. This mitzvah was presented previously in parashas Mishpatim (Shemos 23:4): “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey straying, you must surely return it to him.” The Maggid, in his commentary on this week’s parashah (Ohel Yaakov, parashas Ki Seitzei), notes that there are three verses in Tanach that contain the word “straying” (to’eh). One of them is the verse we just quoted. The second is the following (Bereishis 37:15): “And a man found him [Yosef] straying in the field, and the man asked him, saying, ‘What are you seeking?’” The third is the following (Mishlei 21:16): “The man who strays from the path of sense shall lie with the congregation of the dead.”
The Maggid says that these three verses allude to the three basic ways that a person can come to stray from the proper path. The verse that speaks of straying in the field alludes to straying as a result of being too wrapped up in one’s livelihood and other similar worldly pursuits. The verse about returning straying animals alludes to straying as a result of being overcome by physical desire – the Hebrew word for donkey, chamor, is related to the Hebrew word for physicality, chomrius. Finally, the verse about straying from the path of sense alludes to straying as a result of heretical thoughts and beliefs. The Maggid notes that the word to’eh in the first two verses is written in incomplete spelling, without a vav, while in the third verse it is written in complete spelling. This hints at the fact that straying due to heretical thoughts is the worst form of straying – a person who has become convinced of a false view is unlikely to mend his ways, for he believes what he is doing is right.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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