By Rabbi Avraham
Fischer. A publication of the Orthodox Union in cooperation with the Seymour
J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center
27 Av 5764 - August 13, 2004
No sin is as antithetical to the Torah as idolatry. Moshe
repeatedly warns Israel against any temptation to idol-worship. Between the
admonitions regarding the false idolatrous prophet (Devarim 13:2-6) and Ir
ha’nidachat, the city that has gone astray into idolatry (13:13-19), we learn
of the meisit, the enticer:
If your brother, son of your mother, or your son or your
daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is like your own soul
will entice you in secret, saying: “Let us go and serve other gods”, which
neither you nor your fathers have ever known, of the gods of the nations that
are around you, those close to you or those far from you, from one end of the
earth to the other end of the earth. Then you shall not consent to him, nor
shall you listen to him, nor shall your eye spare him, nor shall you
exonerate, nor shall you conceal for him. Rather, you shall surely kill him;
your hand shall be against him first to execute him and the hand of all the
people later. And you shall stone him with stones so that he dies, because he
sought to lead you astray from upon (MEI’AL) Hashem, your G-d, Who brings you
out from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall
hear, and fear, and they shall not continue to do such a thing in your midst
The meisit might be anyone influential, even a close relative or dear friend.
Such people arouse our compassion, our protective instincts; we might not want
to report them, hoping instead to change their minds.
As the verse says, the meisit entices ba’seiter, in secret. Still, witnesses
are required for conviction. Meisit is one of four criminals (the others being
the rebellious son, the rebellious elder and the scheming witnesses) whose
execution is publicized (Sanhedrin 89a).
Sefer HaChinuch (ascribed to either R. Aharon HaLevi or R. Pinchas HaLevi of
Barcelona, mid-13th Century) identifies six mitzvot here:
§ 457: to have no affection for an enticer
§ 458: not to relinquish hatred for an enticer
§ 459: not to rescue an enticer from death
§ 460: the enticed person shall not speak in favor of the enticer
§ 461: the enticed person shall not remain silent from finding the enticer’s
§ 462: not to entice an Israelite toward idol-worship
Rashi’s comments (v.9, which we paraphrase) further demonstrate the severity
of the laws of the meisit:
– Then you shall not consent to him: Regarding all other Jews [including
convicted criminals about to be executed (Sanhedrin 45a)], it is said, “And
you shall love your fellow as yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). But you shall not
love the meisit.
– Nor shall you listen to him: when he begs for his life for you to forgive
him. Regarding all others [including sinners], it is said, “You shall surely
assist him” (Shemot 23:5). But you shall not help the meisit.
– Nor shall your eye spare him: Unlike others, of whom it is said, “You shall
not stand by your brother’s blood” (Vayikra 19:16), you shall not spare the
– Nor shall you exonerate: Do not look for excuses for him, or seek ways of
– Nor shall you conceal for him: If you are aware of arguments in favor of
conviction, you are forbidden to remain silent about them.
– Rather, you shall surely kill him: Contrary to all other capital cases, if
he leaves the courtroom guilty, do not bring him back if you think of
arguments for acquittal; if he leaves the courtroom innocent, return him to
argue for conviction.
– Your hand shall be against him first: Unlike other cases, where the
witnesses throw the first stone (Devarim 17:7), it is the obligation of the
one enticed to execute him [since he might be a relative, he cannot serve as a
These laws are codified in Rambam “Laws of Idolatry” (5:1-5). He adds that a
meisit can be entrapped into speaking before witnesses. Also, meisit is the
only instance in Torah law where we conceal witnesses to listen in on him
without forewarning him.
The meisit is executed for merely attempting to entice, even if he did not
succeed. The laws of meisit are so grave that they override all relations with
Why is this so?
Rashi (v.7) points out the disgraceful irony of
Which neither you nor your fathers have ever known.
Whereas other nations do not reject what they have received from their
ancestors, this enticer wants you to reject the G-d of your fathers-what a
In addition, Meshech Chochmah (R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk 1843-1926) focuses on
because he sought to lead you astray from upon (MEI’AL) Hashem, your G-d.
According to the Talmud (Berachot 6a), the verse, And all the nations of the
earth shall see that the Name of Hashem is called upon you (Devarim 28:10)
refers to our tefillin of the head, which is our glory. Hashem, too, wears
tefillin in which is written, And which one nation is like Your people Israel?
(Divrei HaYamim I 17:21). Hashem praises Israel just as Israel praises Him:
The Holy One blessed be He said to Israel, “You have made Me unique in the
world. I will likewise make you unique in the world.”
Says Meshech Chochmah:
“The enticer to idolatry wants to remove them from being Hashem’s glory, and
from being inscribed in His tefillin.”
More than any other idolater, the meisit undermines the union of Hashem with
Israel by abusing the unity and eternity of the Jewish People. He speaks
privately to one with whom there is deep love; so much so that, when he says,
“I will worship” it is understood as “Let us worship idols” (see Rashi on
Sanhedrin 61a and Minchat Chinuch, R. Yoseph ben Moshe Babad of Tarnopol,
1800-1874, § 462).
The meisit must be stopped before he succeeds in severing our ties with Hashem.
Instead, the unity of Israel should become the foundation of Hashem’s glory.
Torah K'Torat Eretz Yisrael!"- Torah from Aloh Na'aleh*
This week's Torah portion,
Parashat Re'eh, seems to contain a blatant contradiction. Within a matter
of a couple verses, the Torah appears to make a 180-degree turn in terms
of its thinking regarding poverty and the Land of Israel. Initially, the
parasha paints a rosy picture of a land devoid of poverty - "There shall
be no needy among you." A mere three verses later, however, the parasha
introduces the possibility of deprivation in the Land of Israel, saying:
"If, however, there is a needy person among you…" And four verses later,
the parasha portrays Israel as a land whose inhabitants are destined to be
needy: "For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land."
Struggling to resolve this apparent contradiction, many commentators view
the first verse as reflecting the ideal situation in which the Jewish
people live a life free of sin, while the second and third verses describe
what happens when the Jewish people fall astray.
Another way of resolving this contradiction, however, is by reading the
verses as prescriptive - rather than descriptive - statements. Instead of
describing what will happen to the Jewish people, the verses tell us how
the people ought to behave. The first verse, "There shall be no needy
among you," shows how people ought to view themselves. No matter how bad
Israel's economic situation, its inhabitants should never view themselves
as being needy, for they possess the greatest treasure of all - "the land
that Hashem your God is giving you as an inheritance." Likewise, the last
verse, "For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land," shows
how people ought to view others. No matter how good Israel's economic
situation, its inhabitants should never forget that there are people who
are less fortunate. As such, Israel's inhabitants must be constantly
involved in acts of tzedaka and chesed.
May we never regard ourselves as needy and may we always remember to help
each other. Shabbat Shalom!
Having made aliyah close to three years ago, Dyonna Ginsburg currently
serves as the Director of Yavneh Olami, an international religious Zionist
*D’var Torah from Aloh Na'aleh:
an initiative of former North American Rabbis and laymen who successfully
made Aliyah, aimed at highlighting the centrality of Israel and promoting
Aliyah. They send emissaries – Rabbis, academicians, and others – on
speaking-tours throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness , Exec. Dir., Aloh Naaleh,
At the OU Center, 22 Keren HaYesod
Tel.(02) 566-7787 ex. 254