At the end of the parsha, we have the chapter of the Eglah Arufa (decapitated calf). [Devorim 21: 1-9] The law, simply stated, is that if one finds a dead body in an open field and they do not know who the murderer is, the elders of the nearest city have to go out and say "we have done our duty; we were not derelict in treating this person wrongly; our hands did not spill this innocent blood; we were not aware of it". They have to bring an atonement, a special offering, known as the Eglah Arufa.

When someone is murdered by an unknown assailant between two cities an entire proceeding takes place. Measurements to find the closest city are done. The Sanhedrin must come down in person to the crime scene and say "we have done our duty; we were not derelict in treating this person wrongly; our hands did not spill

this innocent blood; we were not aware of it". They have to bring an atonement, a special offering, known as the Eglah Arufa. A calf is decapitated. The Netziv says the reason for this extravagant show is that all the people should get together and start asking lots of questions and demanding answers to how a tragedy like this can happen in their midst. Being Jewish, everybody of course has their own opinion. Through this massive lively dialogue Hashem will help guide them to take steps in order to prevent another tragedy in the future.

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim says that the reason for the public proceeding is to get the people from the nearby cities to start talking. Since the murderer probably came from one of those cities his identity may be revealed.

Add comment

Have something to say?
Please make your comment below!
All comments are reviewed prior to publication. Absolutely NO loshon hara or anything derogatory or hurtful to anyone will be permitted on the website.


Security code
Refresh