Shoftim: The Ayin Horah of The Eglah Arufa
by Levi Goldstien (Shana Bet)
In this week’s parsha there is the mitzvah of the eglah arufa. The case of eglah arufa is when a dead body is found between cities. The zekeinim of the closest city break the neck of an unworked calf at the place where the body was found. After having broken its neck they declare that they had no hand in the death of the person.
Rashi on chumash quotes the gemmorah in Sotah which asks the following question: why do the elders of the Beis Din need to make such a declaration? Surely no one thinks that they had anything to with the death of this person! The gemmorah then reinterprets their declaration to be saying that they did not ignore him and his needs for food and an escort while he was in their city.
There is another gemorah is Sotah which says that the eglah arufa happens because “Trzarus Ayin”. The Maharal says that “Tzarus Ayin” is the same as Ayin Horah. On a basic level Ayin Horah is when a person feels badly to someone else because of his or her good fortune. The ayin horah has bad effects on both the person doing the “looking” and the person “being looked at”.
What is the connection between ayin horah and ignoring the needs of someone else? Rav Desseler explans that by being indifferent to the needs and the pain of others you are saying that even though I recognise that you need my help and I have the ability to help and provide for you, I am not going to. You are saying that he does not deserve your help. This is the root of ayin horah. When a person feels badly towards someone else’s good fortune they are essentially saying that that person does not deserve that which they have. The Mishna in Pirkei Avos says “kol yisroel areivim ze la ze”. We are all responsible for each other and by ignoring someone else’s needs and pain, we deny them their basic rights as a Jew.
Shiur ID: 8257
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