SHOFTIM

" They shall speak up and say, " Our hands have not spilled this blood, and our eyes did not see." (21:7)

If a dead body is found outside a city, the Torah obligates the city closest to the body to testify in their defense. The elders of the closest city must than take an unyoked calf to an uncultivated area and kill the calf by breaking its neck. The elders wash their hands,and declare verse 21:7 above. Rashi comments that the elders must affirm that they never saw this person in their city, for had they known about him, they would have provided him with food, shelter, and a proper escort for his protection. (Please refer to Rashi for further details.)

A question can be asked, why are "hands" being used in the declaration made by the elders in defending themselves ? They should have just simply say, "We are innocent in this person's death." There is something about "hands" that is significant in this regard. I would like to propose the following original answer,

Bezrat Hashem: Hands are often used to express emotions. We often can welcome or chase away someone with our hands. This is often done on a subconscious level, but its readily understood.

When a person is a newcomer to a city, he or she can readily feel whether the people are receptive to guests or not. Are the people welcoming, or not? These feelings are often expressed through the hands. The elders are required to delve deep into themselves, and find out whether they and their fellow towns people are giving off signals to newcomers that are perhaps negative that resulted in the chasing away of guests. This can result in a tragedy. People often think that they are responsive to guests, but are in reality sending out negative signals because they are really miserly and ungracious. The Elders must therefore delve deep into themselves to discover the signals they and their townspeople are actually sending to newcomers. This is precisely the reason why hands are being used as a metaphor by the Elders in their declaration. "Hands" are symbolic of attititudes that are being unconsciously transmitted to others. We can , Bezrat Hashem, learn a very valuable lesson from the Torah in this regard. What messages are we transmitting to either G-d, or our fellow man ? Are we miserly, or gracious? The answer to this question must be discovered with much work and effort.

Have a good Shabbos

This Torah thought is being dedicated to my bloved father, NACHMAN SHIMON ben YEHUDA MEIR HAKOHAN,Z"L.

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