Tuesday, December 21, 2010

issur for a ben noach to hit a yisrael

The Rambam writes that a nochri who strikes a yisrael is chayav misa, but is not killed -- i.e. it is a chiyuv misa b'ydei shamayim (Melachim 10:6). The Rambam himself (Chovel u'Mazik 5:3) cites the gemara's proof: in our parsha Moshe strikes down the Mitzri who was hitting a yisrael. This is a very strange proof for a chiyuv misa b'ydei shamayim considering that Moshe actually killed the Mitzri in question!

In the Igros haGR"ID there is a shtickel torah that R' Ahron Soloveitchik said on this when he was 10 years old (!) Rashi writes that Moshe Rabeinu killed the Mitzri using the shem hameforash. R' Ahron suggested that this method of misa is at best a gerama, not a true action, and therefore does not constitute a ma'aseh of misas beis din. His proof: the Ritva writes that asking someone to commit murder is a gerama, not a real act of murder. We see that speech is not the same as action; QED that in our case as well, killing through speech is not the same as an act of misas beis din.

R' Moshe Soloveitchik wrote this shtickel to the Rav in a letter along with a he'ora of his own, and the Rav responded with a number of additional observations. I feel sorry for R' Ahron, who probably worked pretty hard on saying his chiddush, something any 10 year old could be proud of, yet it gets swallowed up in the complex give and take between the Rav and his father. The Rav rejected the proof from the Ritva, arguing that there is a difference between asking someone else to take action (=gerama) and a case where one's own words produce an effect, which is itself equivalent to action. The Rav also noted in passing that the chiyuv misa b'ydei shamayim in the case of murder is unique. With respect to other chiyuvei misa b'ydei shamayim, e.g. a zar who eats terumah, there is no obligation except k'lapei shemaya; however, with respect to hitting, there is real chiyuv misas beis din that at least should theoretically be carried out, but for technical reasons is transformed into a lesser punishment b'ydei shamayim. Finally, the Rav noted that this is not the only case of misa b'ydei shamayim given to a nochri. Similar chiyuvim exist for a nochri learning Torah, keeping Shabbos, and other cases. Although any violation of the 7 mitzvos is punishable by misas beis din, apparently these other violations, including striking a yisrael, are categorically different. The question is why, but I'm short of time, so we'll leave that discussion for another time.


  1. or you could say Moshe is biyedei shamayim

  2. Reductio ad absurdum: Elokim nitzav b'adas K-eil -- so everything is b'ydei shamayim?

  3. Anonymous11:31 AM

    look in the beis halevei al hatorah in the back with the griz's pshatim. you'll find the same.
    in general, you shouldnt quote from where you quoted from. its not a good idea.

  4. Should I not ask why it's not a good idea? Sounds ominous.

    I remember seeing the GRI"Z a long time ago, and IIRC he was explaining why Moshe was concerned whether in the future someone from that Mitzri will be megayeir (like Rashi writes). Since killing b'shem is a din misa b'ydei shamayim, so cheshbonos like what will come out in the future come into play.

    The Rav was mechaleik further between whether the fact that it is not misas beis din is a din in the chiyuv or just the kiyum b'poel -- I don't remember that being in the GRI"Z, but feel free to correct me if I am mistaken.

  5. Moshe is an individual not a beis din

  6. Why is being "bydei shamayim" limited to an individual and not a beis din, a tzibur, or some other larger entity?

  7. how can an individual be biyedey adam? Rav Hutner (Pesach 78:9) says that the din that Moshe had a din of a beis din of 71 only started after krias yam suf

  8. Aderaba, an individual is a ba'al bechira -- what does it mean to say he/she is b'ydei shamayim?

    What does whether moshe had a din of 71 have to do with anything?

  9. Moshe was a navi when he killed the mitzri but not a beis din so this is biyedey shamayim, he did it at the behest of Hashem, therefore the rambam is glatt. Had he done it after krias yam suf then you could have had a kashye that this is biydey adam because then he had the status of a beis din

  10. >>>Moshe was a navi when he killed the mitzi

    Since when does everything a navi does count as being "b'yad Hashem"? Hashem never told Moshe to kill the Mitzri.

    I think this episode is read as the turning point in Moshe's life -- his willingness to intercede on behalf of his bretheren is what made him (in part) worthy of being the goel. If it was not his decision, but he was simply acting a navi (which would be remarkable considering that the only thing we know about Moshe to this point is that he was being raised in Pharoah's house), simply an instrument of yad Hashem, then Moshe deserves little credit, and you let the air out of the whole story.

  11. had another thought here..

    let's say someone would use the shem hamephorash to try and kill Moshe - obviously this would not work because Moshe is not chayav misah and there is no din against him

    In other words - you do not kill someone with the shem hamephorash - it is basically a way of being mazmin them to din in din shamayim, therefore the mitzri was killed biyedei shamayim