April 15, 2024
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Zera Shimshon on Naso

דַּבֵּר אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי־תִשְׂטֶה אִשְׁתּוֹ וּמָעֲלָה בוֹ מָעַל 
(במדבר ה:יב)

“Speak to Bnei Yisroel and say to them: Should any man’s wife deviate and deal treacherously with him.”

It is written in Mishlei (14:24), “Ateres chachamim oshram—The crown of the wise is their wealth.” The Metzudos Dovid explains the first phrase of this pasuk, “Ateres chachamim oshram—The crown of the wise is their wealth,” to mean that wise people are glorified through their wealth, because people show them honor since they use their wealth to help other people. Zera Shimshon asks, however: What is the meaning of the end of this pasuk, “… eevelles keseelim eevelles—the foolishness of the ignorant is foolishness? This doesn’t seem to be saying anything since it is obvious, the foolishness of anyone is foolishness!

Because of this redundancy, Zera Shimshon explains that this pasuk is not speaking about a wise person and ignorant one in general, but rather, it is speaking about a wise person and an ignorant person, with regards specifically to the way they relate to the mitzvah to give terumos and maasaros to a Kohen.

First, a few sources: It is written in Gemara Shabbos (119a) that a person who separates maaser from his produce will become wealthy (the word “maaser” and the Hebrew word for “wealthy— ashir” share the same root). It is written in Gemara Berachos (63a) that one of the punishments for one who doesn’t give terumos and maasaros to the Kohen is that he will suspect his wife of being unfaithful, and, therefore, he will be forced to come before a Kohen to clarify if they can stay married or not.

The Gemara Sotah (3a) derives from the pasuk, “… eesh eesh key sisteh eeshtow—A man whose wife deviated from the modest way … ” that a person doesn’t do an aveira until a foolish spirit enters him. (The root of the word, “shoteh, fool,” “shin-vav-tess-hay” and the root of the word “sisteh, to deviate,” “suf-shin-tess-hay” are the same, “shin-tess.”)

In light of these sources, Zera Shimshon explains the first half of the pasuk, “Ateres chachamim oshram—The crown of the wise is their wealth,” refers to someone who was wise and heeded the Torah’s advice to give terumos and maasaros properly and Hashem rewarded him with wealth. This wealth is like a crown on his head.

The second half of the pasuk, “… eevelles keseelim eevelles—the foolishness of the ignorant is foolishness,” doesn’t mean that foolishness of person A is person A’s foolishness; this is obvious. Rather, it is referring to the foolishness of two different people—a husband and a wife—one causing the other. Meaning, the husband foolishly didn’t heed the Torah’s advice to give terumos and maasaros. As a punishment for this—like we saw in the Gemara above—his wife acted foolishly which made her husband suspicious of her acting inappropriately, which, in turn, caused the husband to have to come to a Kohen to clarify matters through the Sotah process. In short, “… eevelles keseelim eevelles,” meaning the husband’s foolishness caused his wife to do something foolish.

This obviously doesn’t mean that the husband is responsible for his wife’s improper behavior and she is, simply, the victim and guiltless. This cannot be. Firstly, everyone is responsible for their behavior, no matter how they got there. And, secondly, we see that although the husband had to eventually face the Kohen whom he tried to avoid, the woman’s punishment for doing what she did is much worse. Chazal only meant to say that he also deserves a punishment for not giving terumos and maasaros to the Kohen.

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