Thursday, May 11, 2006

Were the Avos Jewish? (part III - the parsha of the mekallel)

We have been discussing the machlokes Chachamei Tzorfas and Ramban with respect to whether before mattan Torah there existed a status of Yisrael, or everyone had the same din of ben noach. The Torah introduces the parsha of the mekallel by saying “vayeitzei”, he went out. Rashi cites Chazal who explain that the mekallel “went out” defeated from the bais din of Moshe Rabeinu where he had gone to press his case for a place in the camp of Klal Yisrael as a full Jew. Apparently, his court case revolved around the very issues raised in this machlokes Chachamei Tzorfas and Ramban. Based on this, suggests the Malbim, Rashi’s reference specifically to the “bais din of Moshe”, not just any court, is intentional and meduyak. Recall that in parshas Shmos Moshe killed an Egyptian for striking a Jew. From that episode Chazal derive that any nochri who attempts to strike a Jew is chayav misa (Sanhedrin 58b). This conclusion would only have been warranted if there existed a distinct status of Yisrael even before mattan Torah! Therefore, the mekallel confidently assumed that Moshe would side with his claim. (As to why the mekallel was wrong, at least one approach should be obvious from previous posts, and there are others - I’ll leave it to you to work out :)


  1. Anonymous12:24 PM

    Ever wonder how they could stone the mikallel without giving him hasra? The Panim Yafos has a nice explanation.

  2. Hora'as sha'ah hayesa (sanhedrin 58b). But now I'm curious, and since I don't own a Panim Yafos, can you please remove the suspense and fill me in!

  3. Anonymous7:28 PM

    Yilamdeinu Rabbeinu:

    I believe the gemara you are referring to is Sanhedrin 78b, and the "hora'as sha'ah" was for chavisha, not for katala.

    I will try and obtain a Panim Yafos before the weekend and be moser tamtzis d'varav. (I too do not own one.)

  4. Anonymous11:43 PM

    I can't do the Panim Yafos justice; it's an impressive, lengthy piece - and I highly recommend you try and get to it if you can. The bottom line is, though, that there WAS hasra here.

  5. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Very nice site! » »

  6. Anonymous4:18 AM

    Best regards from NY! »

  7. I recall a r Naftali trop by Ger katan that says there are a few parts to a Jew. There's the yichus yid, metzius yid and the kedushas yisrael, which we got by matan Torah. So before matan Torah there was a din Jew somewhat.