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Matot - Mase'i |  2 Av 5776  |  Aug 6th, 2016  |  Issue 662

Mazal Tov to Ohad and Tamar Tal (Head of the Religious Zionist Shlichut Center)
on the birth of a son!

   Rabbi Dr. Yossef Slotnick

Former Rosh Kollel (Cape Town 1997-1999)
Currently Ra”m in Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa

Is there is room for mercy in the laws of the murderer?

In This week's Parsha the Torah describes, with strong words, the communal responsibility to bring a killer to justice:
"Moreover you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death; but he shall be put to death.  And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge… You shall not thus pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of him who shed it.  (Numbers, 35)

The verses were written emphatically and do not allow for any compassion in the case of a murderer. The message that emerges is that there is no room for leniency in the laws of the killer and we must always exhaust the law. Although this is what we hear here, we can see a very different story elsewhere in the Bible.
Contrary to the norm, I want to share with you a question, not an idea or interpretation, and I bring the things not to resolve the tension but to put the question for you to ponder.

In the Book of Samuel, we hear about the tense relationship between King David and his son Absalom. Following the killing Amnon, David sent Absalom away, causing him great pain. Yoav Ben Zuria wanted to repair the relationship between the King and Absalom, and therefore sent the Wise Woman of Tekoa to the King in order to show him the importance of reconciliation. Her job was to persuade the king to rule on a fabricated story of the killing of her son, and then show him the parallels between this ruling and his attitude toward his son Absalom. It is beyond the scope of this short essay to discuss the many aspects of this story, and I will only briefly describe the story the woman told the king and his ruling on the matter.
When the woman of Teko′a came to the king, she … said, “Help, O king.” And the king said to her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “Alas, I am a widow; my husband is dead. And your handmaid had two sons, and they quarreled with one another in the field; there was no one to part them, and one struck the other and killed him. And now the whole family has risen against your handmaid, and they say, ‘Give up the man who struck his brother that we may kill him for the life of his brother whom he slew’; and so they would destroy the heir also. Thus they would quench my coal which is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant upon the face of the earth.” (2 Samuel 14)

The woman describes how during a fight her one son killed his brother. Based on the law cited in this week's Parasha her family wanted to redeem the blood of the victim, and kill the murderer. The woman requested that the king pardon her son.
At first the king tried to avoid such a ruling and said “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.” (ibid. 8), but the woman did not concede and said “On me be the guilt, my lord the king, and on my father’s house; let the king and his throne be guiltless.” (ibid. 9) It seems that the woman realized that the king is afraid of such a ruling because of the sin it involves. It is likely that she is insinuating to what we learnt in our Parasha that the lack of punishment would pollute the land. The woman states that she would take the punishment on herself and it will not have negative consequences for the King and his kingdom. Eventually King relents and declares, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.” (ibid, 11) the plea of ​​the woman helped, the king took pity on her son and ruled that he would not be executed.

No doubt we feel empathy for the woman and her request, and solidarity with the ruling of David  who subordinated the law to the need for mercy. The resounding question is the tension of this ruling with the uncompromising manner the Torah demanded. How could David choose compassion over justice? This is both a moral question and a legal one - by what authority does David rule in contrast to the law of the Torah.
Radak, in his commentary to Samuel, gives a partial answer to this question. He understands the case as a situation in which there is no family responsibility for blood vengeance, and they want to kill the son in order to steal the inheritance of brothers. According to this interpretation, the courts indeed should hear the murder case and give justice to the victim, but the woman's request is to provide protection for her son against the family and not from the Law.

Ralba”g in his commentary goes in another direction, and states "It might also be that even though he deserves the death penalty by laws of the Torah, the king ability has the ability to save him as a temporary order." His contention is that the king is not necessarily subject to the laws of the Torah and can, according to the needs time, temporarily change the laws of the Torah. While plausible, this answer does not explain why David felt the need to change the Law of the Torah?  Is the will to show compassion for the mother reason enough to deviate from the Torah?
As I said at the outset is not my aim to solve the question but to raise it! Be mindful of the tension between justice and mercy, and ask yourself how the law fits into life

TMT Spotlight:
Yom Ha'Tzionut Hadatit

This past Monday more than 300 Religious Zionist shlichim and shlichot gathered together in Jerusalem. The convention, which brought together all the outgoing shlichim, was arranged by The World Mizrachi Movement, headed by Rabbi Doron Perez and The Department for Spiritual Services in The Diaspora under Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman. Its purpose was to advocate for and strengthen the shlichim as they embark on the critical mission of bolstering the Jewish identity in communities around the world – the only way to fight the assimilation of Am Yisrael.

The convention, which was orchestrated by The Religious Zionist Shlichut Center hosted shlichim from Torah MiTzion, World Bnei Akiva, the Bat Ami national service, the Mizrachi 'Shalhevet' program, Lavi Olami, The Jewish Agency and Morim Shlichim.

The Minister of Education and Diaspora, Naftali Bennet, complimented the shlichim for their willingness to go on shlichut. He emphasized than never in our history have we lost so many of our people to assimilation. He shared that his parents were shlichim themselves, and how he learnt that personal connections and loving each Jew are the keys to a successful shlichut.

Rav Haim Druckman addressed the shlichim and spoke of the importance of leaving our comfort zones in Israel and going on shlichut. Mrs. Miriam Peretz reminded us of the great merit of living a life of shlichut and giving for Am Yisrael. Additional speakers included Gael Grunwald, Chairman of the Settlement Department in the WZO, Rabbi Doron Perez and Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman.

The attendees also enjoyed a satiric play which dealt with being an Israeli abroad confronting the BDS movement.
We wish all the shlichim Hatzlacha Rabba!
Around The World
A farewell party to the Munich Mishlachat - Eliezer and Rotem Noy (finishing three year of heading the mishlachat), Achiad Karesenti, Adiel Shavit, Elital Marowitz and Lital Shemesh!

     Arik Speaker                                   In cooperation with:

'Lilmod' Coordinator and Head of  European Desk in Torah MiTzion

The Or Etzion Hesder Yeshiva is one of the oldest and most prominent Religious-Zionist Yeshivas in Israel.
The Yeshiva was founded - and is still headed - by Rabbi Chaim Druckman in 1977, in addition to the Yeshiva Tichonit which was established 17 years earlier.
Later, a military boarding school was established as well.

The Yeshiva is named after the victims of the struggle for the protection of the Gush Etzion settlements during the War of Independence.

Rabbi Druckman, one of the leading rabbis of our generation, was born in 1932 in Poland. He survived the Holocaust miraculously and came to Israel completely alone in 1944. He continued his studies at Yeshivat Kfar Haroeh, and then at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, where he became a very close pupil of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, and in many ways is seen as his successor. He was even a Bnei Akiva shaliach in the United States.

Rabbi Druckman was one of the architects of the Hesder Yeshiva concept - namely, the combination of army service and Torah study. He was also one of the founders of the Kerem BeYavne Yeshiva.
He served as a Knesset member and Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs for the National Religious Party. Among his many important functions, he served for 8 years as the head of the Giyur committee in the Prime Minister's office where he tried to advance a policy to ease as much as possible the conversion process whilst keeping an absolute commitment to Halacha.
4 years ago Rav Drukman received the prestigious Israel award for lifetime achievement.

Many alumni of the Yeshiva hold leadership positions across the country - rabbis, heads of institutions, artists, politicians and more

       Where was this photo taken?

Please send answers to -


The answer, further information about this location, as well as the first person to recognize this site will be published 
 next week's edition.                                                           

Torah MiTzion was established in 1995 with the goal of strengthening Jewish communities around the globe and infusing them with love for Torah, the Jewish People and the State of Israel.

Over the past twenty years, Torah MiTzion's shlichim have inspired and enriched their host communities through high impactful formal and informal educational programs.

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Our friend Benjy Singer has a very useful website,, which contains accurate and fresh information of what's going on in the Religious Anglo Community in Israel.