It’s Such a Pity

August 13, 2021
Elul 5, 5781
Candlelighting Time 7:40 PM

One can sometimes wonder if the hot topics of our times are really discussed in the Torah or are we just adapting themes from the Torah portions and extrapolating them for our use? This week’s parsha is truly a prime example of the eternity of Torah as though we need proof! Capital punishment is ordained as a solution for certain heinous sins such as idol worship, immorality and, of course, murder. When the murderer is forewarned by the witnesses before he commits his crime and still pursues his agenda, then a Rabbinical court investigates based upon the witnesses’ account and then prosecutes the murderer if the testimony is considered valid. However, when there are witnesses but they did not forewarn the murderer of the consequence of his sin and clearly, he intended to kill his victim, then the court cannot execute the villain. Instead, he is released to the relative of the victim who summarily deals with the murderer. Although it would seem that such a procedure is not legally sound since the court is not involved with the execution of that person, nonetheless, this is condoned and actually an obligation of that court. Why the relative is the process of eliminating the murderer is certainly an interesting approach which we will not be discussing.

Rashi, citing the Sages, makes a most unusual comment. He says that perhaps one might intercede on behalf of the murderer and defend him that since anyhow one person has already been killed, must we execute the murderer as well. The Torah is warning us not to take pity upon the villain and upon his execution we have amended for the unfortunate loss of the victim. At first glance it would seem that the contention to save the life of the murderer is a righteous claim. After all, he wasn’t even warned before he killed his victim. Maybe he would have exerted self-control and held back his murderous intent would he have been warned! However, Hashem is outraged with this disputation and cautions us to have no feelings of remorse or pity upon this person. Indeed, if the court does not carry out its obligation to eliminate the murderer, then they have transgressed a mitzvah of the Torah. And this concept of resolutely banishing evil from our midst is a theme repeatedly mentioned in the Torah by other severe crimes such as idol worship or those involved in witchcraft. Make no mistake, there is no room for such demented actions within our ranks. And any toleration of these terrible crimes is a transgression of Torah Law.   

And then we view the degradation that is slowly but surely chipping away at the ethical and moral values of our generation. And we wonder when it will end? Of course, the answer is that it will not. For lack of backbone in dealing with the fundamental truths of society is a slippery slope that ends up in the disintegration of the very fiber of our world as we know it to be. Crime is no longer punishable as long as the extent of the felony is within ‘reason’. How outlandish and totally corrupt! Even the sacred deep-seated beliefs of our country are under fire and respect for law at the highest levels of our society is being violated and yet encouraged as we witness the ongoing onslaught of the Constitution by our President who has no regard for the law although he criticized Trump for that very encroachment. When we do not take a stance for that which is right, eventually, we must fall. 

This is the incredible act of mercy that Hashem has bestowed upon His people by giving us a Day of Judgement once a year to reassess and correct our mistakes and reset our moral compasses.  


The Torah bars even the wisest judge from accepting bribes for he will be blinded and not see the truth. How much more so if one is not the wisest certainly, he will be blinded when biased and prejudiced due to social pressures from viewing the absolute truth of the Torah.