Bechukotai, Siman 5 בחוקתי, ה׳
1 א

דָּבָר אַחֵר, אִישׁ כִּי יַפְלִיא נֶדֶר בְּעֶרְכְּךָ נְפָשׁוֹת. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: פְּרִי צַדִּיק עֵץ חַיִּים וְלֹקֵחַ נְפָשׁוֹת חָכָם (משלי יא, ל). אִם יִהְיֶה אָדָם צַדִּיק, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא צַדִּיק וְאֵינוֹ עוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה, אֵין בְּיָדוֹ כְּלוּם. אֶלָּא, פְּרִי צַדִּיק עֵץ חַיִּים, זוֹ תּוֹרָה, שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ שֶׁהוּא בֶּן תּוֹרָה, הוּא לָמֵד הֵיאַךְ לוֹקֵחַ נְפָשׁוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְלוֹקֵחַ נְפָשׁוֹת חָכָם. שֶׁאִם יִדֹּר לַעֲרֹךְ נְפָשׁוֹת, הוּא לָמֵד מִן הַתּוֹרָה הֵיאַךְ עוֹשֶׂה. וְאִם אֵין בְּיָדוֹ תּוֹרָה, אֵין בְּיָדוֹ כְּלוּם. כֵּן אַתְּ מוֹצֵא בְּיִפְתָּח הַגִּלְעָדִי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בֶּן תּוֹרָה, אִבֵּד אֶת בִּתּוֹ. אֵימָתַי, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנִּלְחַם עִם בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן, וְנָדַר בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיִּדַּר יִפְתָּח נֶדֶר וְגוֹ', וְהָיָה הַיּוֹצֵא וְגוֹ', וְהָיָה לַה' וְהַעֲלִיתִיהוּ עוֹלָה (שופטים יא, ל-לא). בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הָיָה עָלָיו כַּעַס מִן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. אָמַר, אִלּוּ יָצָא מִבֵּיתוֹ כֶּלֶב אוֹ חֲזִיר אוֹ גָּמָל, הָיָה מַקְרִיב אוֹתוֹ לְפָנַי. לְכָךְ זִמֵּן לוֹ בִּתּוֹ. כָּל כָּךְ לָמָּה. כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּלְמְדוּ כָּל הַנּוֹדְרִים, הִלְכוֹת נְדָרִים וְקוֹנָמוֹת, שֶׁלֹּא לִנְהֹג טָעוּת בַּנְּדָרִים. וְהִנֵּה בִּתּוֹ יוֹצֵאת לִקְרָאתוֹ, וַיְהִי כִּרְאוֹתוֹ אוֹתָהּ וְיִקְרַע אֶת בְּגָדָיו וַיֹּאמֶר אֲהָהּ בִתִּי וְגוֹ', וְאָנֹכִי פָּצִיתִי פִי אֶל ה' וְלֹא אוּכַל לָשׁוּב (שם פסוק לד-לה). וַהֲלֹא פִּנְחָס הָיָה שָׁם, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לֹא אוּכַל לָשׁוּב. אֶלָּא פִּנְחָס אָמַר, אֲנִי כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל בֶּן כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל וְאֵיךְ אֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל עַם הָאָרֶץ. יִפְתָּח אָמַר, אֲנִי רֹאשׁ שׁוֹפְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רֹאשׁ הַקְּצִינִים, אַשְׁפִּיל עַצְמִי וְאֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל הֶדְיוֹט. מִבֵּין תַּרְוֵיהוֹן אַבְדַת הַהִיא עֲלוּבְתָּא מִן עָלְמָא. וּשְׁנֵיהֶם נִתְחַיְּבוּ בְּדָמֶיהָ. פִּנְחָס, נִסְתַּלְּקָה מִמֶּנּוּ רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, יִפְתָּח, נִתְפַּזְּרוּ עַצְמוֹתָיו, שֶׁכֵּן כְּתִיב: וַיִּקָּבֵר בְּעָרֵי גִּלְעָד (שם יב, ז). כֵּיוָן שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לְקָרְבָהּ, הָיְתָה בּוֹכָה לְפָנָיו. אָמְרָה לוֹ בִּתּוֹ, אָבִי, יָצָאתִי לִקְרָאתְךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה וְאַתָּה שׁוֹחֵט אוֹתִי. שֶׁמָּא כָּתַב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁיְּהוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַקְרִיבִין לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נַפְשׁוֹת אָדָם. אֵין כְּתִיב בַּתּוֹרָה, אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן לַה' מִן הַבְּהֵמָה (ויקרא א, ב), מִן הַבְּהֵמָה וְלֹא מִן בְּנֵי אָדָם. אָמַר לָהּ: בִּתִּי, נָדַרְתִּי, וְהָיָה הַיּוֹצֵא אֲשֶׁר יֵצֵא וְהַעֲלִיתִיהוּ עוֹלָה. שֶׁמָּא כָּל הַנּוֹדֵר יָכֹל הוּא שֶׁלֹּא לְשַׁלֵּם נִדְרוֹ. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, וַהֲרֵי יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ שֶׁנָּדַר וְאָמַר, כָּל אֲשֶׁר תִּתֵּן לִי עַשֵּׂר וְגוֹ' (בראשית כח, כב), וְנָתַן לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר בָּנִים, שֶׁמָּא הִקְרִיב לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶחָד מֵהֶם. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא חַנָּה, שֶׁאָמְרָה, וַתִּדֹּר נֶדֶר וַתֹּאמַר, ה' צְבָאוֹת אִם רָאֹה תִּרְאֶה וְגוֹ' (ש״א א, יא), שֶׁמָּא הִקְרִיבָה אֶת בְּנָהּ לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. כָּל הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אָמְרָה לוֹ: וְלֹא שָׁמַע לָהּ. כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאֲתָה שֶׁלֹּא שָׁמַע לָהּ, אָמְרָה לוֹ: הַנִּיחֵנִי וְאֵרֵד אֵצֶל בֵּית דִּין, שֶׁמָּא יִמְצְאוּ פֶּתַח לְנִדְרְךָ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הַרְפֵּה מִמֶּנִּי שְׁנַיִם חֳדָשִׁים וְאֵלְכָה וְיָרַדְתִּי עַל הֶהָרִים וְגוֹ' (שופטים יא, לז). אָמַר רַבִּי זְכַרְיָה, וְכִי יֵשׁ אָדָם יוֹרֵד עַל הֶהָרִים, וַהֲלֹא בְּנֵי אָדָם עוֹלִים לֶהָרִים. מַהוּ וְיָרַדְתִּי עַל הֶהָרִים. אֵלּוּ סַנְהֶדְרִין, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שִׁמְעוּ הָרִים אֶת רִיב ה' (מיכה ו, ב). הָלְכָה אֶצְלָם וְלֹא מָצְאוּ פֶּתַח לְיִפְתָּח לְהַתִּיר לוֹ אֶת נִדְרוֹ, בַּעֲוֹן אוֹתָן שֶׁשָּׁחַט מִשֵּׁבֶט אֶפְרָיִם. וְעָלָיו הוּא אוֹמֵר, גֶּבֶר רָשׁ וְעֹשֵׁק דַּלִּים מָטָר סוֹחֵף וְאֵין לָחֶם (משלי כח, ג). גֶּבֶר רָשׁ וְעֹשֵׁק דַּלִּים, זֶה יִפְתָּח, שֶׁהָיָה רָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה כִּגְרוּפוֹ שֶׁל שִׁקְמָה, שֶׁהָיָה עֹשֵׁק אֶת הַדַּלִּים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ אֱמֹר נָא שִׁבֹּלֶת וַיֹּאמֶר סִבֹּלֶת וְלֹא יָכִין לְדַבֵּר כֵּן (שופטים יב, ו), וְהָיָה שׁוֹחֲטָן. לְפִיכָךְ, מָטָר סוֹחֵף וְאֵין לֶחֶם, שֶׁהָיָה לוֹ מִי שֶׁיַּתִּיר אֶת נִדְרוֹ, אֶלָּא וְאֵין לֶחֶם, שֶׁהֶעֱלִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵהֶם אֶת הַהֲלָכָה, שֶׁלֹּא יִמְצְאוּ פִּתְחוֹ לְהַתִּיר לוֹ אֶת נִדְרוֹ. עָלָה וּשְׁחָטָהּ. וְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ צֹוַחַת, נְפָשׁוֹת הָיִיתִי רוֹצֶה שֶׁתַּקְרִיב לְפָנַי אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוִּיתִי וְלֹא דִּבַּרְתִּי וְלֹא עָלְתָה עַל לִבִּי (ירמיה יט, ה). אֲשֶׁר לֹא צִוִּיתִי לְאַבְרָהָם שֶׁיִּשְׁחֹט אֶת בְּנוֹ, אֶלָּא אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ, אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ (בראשית כב, יב), לְהוֹדִיעַ לְכָל הָאֻמּוֹת חִבָּתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם, שֶׁלֹּא חָשַׂךְ אֶת יְחִידוֹ מִמֶּנִּי, לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹן בּוֹרְאוֹ. וְלֹא דִּבַּרְתִּי לְיִפְתָּח לְהַקְרִיב אֶת בִּתּוֹ. רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ. רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן אָמַר, דָּמִים הָיָה חַיָּב, כְּעִנְיָן שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּעֲרָכִין. וְרַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן לָקִישׁ אָמַר, וְלֹא כְּלוּם, שֶׁהִתְנָה עַל דָּבָר שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְהַקְרִיב, וְלֹא הָיָה עָלָיו כְּלוּם. וְלֹא עָלְתָה עַל לִבִּי, זֶה מֵישַׁע מֶלֶךְ מוֹאָב, שֶׁכָּתוּב בּוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנָּפַל בְּיַד מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל, וַיִּקַּח אֶת בְּנוֹ הַבְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר יִמְלֹךְ תַּחְתָּיו וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ עוֹלָה (מ״ב ג, כז). מִי גָּרַם לְמֵישַׁע שֶׁיַּקְרִיב אֶת בְּנוֹ. עַל שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בֶּן תּוֹרָה. שֶׁאִלּוּ קָרָא בַּתּוֹרָה, לֹא אִבֵּד אֶת בְּנוֹ, שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה, אִישׁ כִּי יַפְלִיא נֶדֶר, וְהָיָה עֶרְכְּךָ הַזָּכָר, וְאִם נְקֵבָה הִיא וְגוֹ' (ויקרא כז, ב-ד). הֱוֵי, וְלוֹקֵחַ נְפָשׁוֹת חָכָם (משלי יא, ל).

Another interpretation (of Lev. 27:2) “When anyone explicitly vows […]”: This text is related (to Prov. 11:30), “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but a wise person acquires lives (npshwt).” If a person is righteous, and does not occupy himself with Torah, even though he is righteous, he has nothing in his possession. Rather, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life”; this refers to the Torah. Because when one is a Torah scholar (literally, child of Torah), he learns how one acquires lives (npshwt), as stated (ibid.), “but a wise person acquires lives.” As if he makes a vow for the value of human beings, he would have learned what to do from the Torah. But if he does not have Torah in his possession, he has nothing in his possession. And so you find in the case of Jephthah the Gileadite, because he was not a Torah scholar, he lost his daughter.16Gen. R. 60:5; Lev. R. 37:4. When? In the time that he fought with the Children of Ammon and made a vow at that time, as stated (in Jud. 11:30-31), “Then Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, [and said, ‘If You indeed give the Children of Ammon into my hand;] Then it shall be that whatever comes forth…, shall belong to the Lord, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.’” At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, was angry with him. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “If there had come out from his house a dog, a pig, or a camel, he would have offered it to Me.” Hence He summoned his daughter to him. And why so much? So that all those that vow will learn the laws of vows and abnegations. [And the result was (in Jud. 11:34-35),] “and there was his daughter coming out to greet him [….] And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes […].” But was not Phinehas there?17Since he was an outstanding Torah scholar, and an outstanding Torah scholar could have annulled the vow. And still he said (in vs. 35), “and I cannot retract?” However, Phinehas had said, “I am a high priest and the son of a high priest. Shall I humble myself and go to an ignoramus ('am ha'arets)?” [And] Jephthah said, “I am head of the tribes of Israel and head of the magistrates. Shall I humble myself and go to a commoner?”18Gk.: idiotes. Between the two of them that poor woman perished from the world; so the two of them were liable for her blood. In the case of Phinehas, the holy spirit left him. In the case of Jephthah, his bones were scattered, as stated (in Jud. 12:7), “and he was buried in the cities of Gilead.”19Translations tend to emend the text and have Jephthah buried in a single city. When he sought to sacrifice her, she cried in front of him. His daughter said to him, “My father, I came out to greet you in joy, and [now] you slaughter me? Is it perhaps that the Holy One, blessed be He, wrote in the Torah that Israel offer the lives (npshwt) of people in front of the Holy One, blessed be He? And is it not written (in Lev. 1:2), ‘When one of you presents an offering to the Lord from the beasts.’ ‘From the beasts’ and not from people?” He said to her, “My daughter, I made a vow (in Jud. 11:31), ‘Then it shall be that whatever comes forth […].’ Is it possible that anyone who makes a vow does not have to fulfill his vow?” She said to him, “Behold, when our father Jacob made a vow (in Gen. 28:22), ‘and of all that You give me, I will surely set aside a tithe for You’; when the Holy One, blessed be He, gave him twelve sons, did he ever offer up one of them as a sacrifice? Moreover, does not Hannah [do likewise], when she makes a vow and says (as reported in I Sam. 1:11), ‘And she made a vow and said, “Lord of hosts, if You will surely see… [then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life].”’ Did she ever offer up her son as a sacrifice to the Holy One, blessed be He?” All these things she said to him, but he did not heed her. When she saw that he did not heed her, she said to him, “Let me go to a court of law. Perhaps one of them will find a loophole for your words.” Thus it is stated (in Jud. 11:37), “leave me alone for two months, so that I may go and come down to the mountains.” R. Zechariah said, “Is there anyone who comes down to the mountains? Does not one go up to the mountains? So what is the meaning of ‘and come down to the mountains?’ These represent the Sanhedrin,20Gk.: synedrion. as in the usage (of Micah 6:2), ‘Hear, O mountains, the lawsuit of the Lord.’” She went to them, but they did not find a loophole for undoing his vow, because of the sin of those that he slaughtered from the tribe of Ephraim. So it is with reference to him that Scripture has said (in Prov. 28:3), “A poor man who exploits the indigent is a torrential rain which leaves no bread.” “A poor man who exploits the indigent.” This is referring to Jephthah; since he was poor in Torah like a [mere] sycamore shoot.21The metaphor designates one who is poor. (Prov. 28:3, cont.:) “Who exploits the indigent,” since he exploited the indigent, when he said [to the men of Ephraim] (in Jud. 12:6), “Say, ‘Shibboleth’; and he said, ‘Sibboleth,’ not being able to pronounce it correctly.” Then he slaughtered him. Therefore, he is (according to Prov. 28:3, cont.) “a torrential rain, and there is no bread,” in that he had someone who would undo his vow; however (ibid., cont.), “there is no bread,” in that the Holy One, blessed be He, had taken away the halakhah from them, so that they would not find [a loophole] for undoing his vow. When they did not find [a loophole] for undoing his vow, he went up and slaughtered her before the Holy One, blessed be He. Then the holy spirit proclaimed, “Did I desire you to sacrifice lives (npshwt) to Me, [lives] (according to Jer. 19:5), ‘which I never commanded, never spoke for, and which never entered My mind.’” “Which I never commanded” Abraham, that he slaughter his son. Instead I said to him (in Gen. 22:12), “Do not raise your hand against the lad.” [This was] in order to make known Abraham’s love [of God] to the nations of the world, that he did not spare his only one from Me and carried out the will of his Maker. (Jer 19:5 cont.:) “Never spoke” to Jephthah to offer up his daughter as a sacrifice to Me. Rabbi Johanan and R. Simeon ben Laqish [differed on the matter]. Rabbi Johanan says, “He was liable for money [in order to fulfill his vow], like the matter is written in Arakhin.” And R. Simoen ben Laquish said, “[He was liable for] nothing, as he made a stipulation about something that is impossible to sacrifice, and [so] there was no [liability] upon him.” “And which never entered my mind,” this is referring to Misha the king of Moab, about whom it is written that when he fell into the hand of the king of Israel (in II Kings 3:27), “And he took his firstborn son, who would become king in his stead, and offered him up as a burnt offering upon the wall.” What caused Misha to sacrifice his son?22See the parallel text in Buber Tanchuma 10:7, which has the final question being about Jephthah, which fits much better with the continuation of the section. Because he was not a Torah scholar; for if he had read the Torah, he would not have lost his son, since it is written (in Lev 27:2-4) “When anyone explicitly vows [to the Lord the value of human beings (npshwt)] And the value of a male shall be […]. And if it is a female….” Ergo (in Prov. 11:30), “but a wise person acquires lives (npshwt).”