Pisqa’ 171

Pisqa’ 1711


“There shall not be found among you” (Dt.18:10)—

so caution the court to be vigilant about it!2

“Anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire” (Dt.18:10).

I might infer that

[this prohibition] is limited to his sons or daughters.

How do I know that

[the prohibition] includes his sons’ sons or daughters’ sons?

The Teaching states elsewhere:

“None of his descendants shall be given to pass through Molekh” (Lv.18:21)3


Yet I still wonder:

here [the verse states] fire (Dt.18:10),

but there [it states] Molekh (Lv.18:21).

How can I apply what is said here [about fire]

to the context there [which speaks of Molekh]?

And how can I apply what is said there [about Molekh]

to the context here which speaks of fire?

[The repeated terms,]

pass through (Dt.18:10) and
pass through (Lv.18:21),

permit the following analogical inference:

Just as pass through mentioned here (Dt.18:10)

specifies fire,

so, too, pass through mentioned there (Lv.18:21)

specifies fire.

And just as pass through mentioned there

specifies Molekh (Lv.18:21),

so, too, pass through mentioned here

specifies Molekh (Dt.18:10).

It turns out that you can say:

[The proscription applies]

only when one hands over and passes

[the child first] through fire and [afterward] through Molekh.

Indeed—[the proscription] depends upon both verses.

Had they not been stated [in complementary terms],

we’d have heard no proscription.4


“An augur of auguries5 (Dt.18:10)—

all the same is one who augers many auguries

and the augur of a few—

he is held liable for each and every augury.

What, precisely, is an augur?

This is the type who grabs his staff and inquires:

shall I depart or not depart?6

And in this vein, a verse says:

“My people consults its stick, and its staff directs it!” (Hos.4:12)


Another word :

[he infers the portent of]

a fox that passes on his right or his left.

Another word:

“Any one who passes his son or daughter through fire” (Dt.18:10)—

this refers to one who

sexually mounts an Aramean7 woman,

and then raises with her a son,

who becomes an enemy of the All-Present.

We have heard the punishment [for this],

but we haven’t heard the warning [against it]!

The Teaching states:

“There shall not be found among you

anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire” (Dt.18:10)—

[this is certainly sufficient warning]!

R. Judah says:

This refers to one who passes his son or daughter

through [the rite of] a foreign cult,

and cuts8 a covenant with it.

As it is said:

“Like the calf which they cut in two9

and then passed between the parts” (Jer.34:18). 10


“An oracle”11 (Dt.18:10)—

R. Ishmael says:

This one passes his hand over his eye12

before responding.13

R. Akiva says:

These declare auspicious times [for commerce].

For example, they might say:

I sense that before the Sabbatical year

the wheat harvest will be exceptional,

but [trade in] uprooted beans will be bad.

And sages say:

These deceive the eyes14

[through apparitions].15


“Or an omen-whisperer”16 (Dt.18:10).

What, precisely, is an “omen-whisperer”?17

For example, one of them might say:

my bread has fallen from my mouth

[and it’s not a good omen]!

Or: my staff has fallen from my hand!

Or: a snake (nakhash) is passing to my right,

or a fox to my left,

or a deer is blocking my way!

Or: don’t start with me—it’s too early in the morning!

Or, it’s the New Moon today!

Or, the Sabbath is over.18


“Or a sorcerer” (mechashef; Dt.18;10).

This is one who tricks,

but not by deceiving the eyes

[through apparitions].


R. Akiva says in the name of R. Joshua:

Two [sorcerers] are gathering squash—

one gathers [the entire field] and is exempt

[from suspicion of using sorcery,]

while the other gathers [the entire field] and is liable.

[Now why is this so?]

The one actually performing the trick is liable,

but the one who only deceives the eyes is exempt!19

  1. H:199-200; JN2:45-48.
  2. //Sifra, ‘akharei mot, per. 13:22.
  3. //Sifra, qedoshim, par. 10:6.
  4. Cf. M.San.7:7, T.San.10:4.
  5. qosem qesamim. The procedure of “augury” is explained immediately below.
  6. Cf. T.Shab.7:4, in which this practice is labeled “Amorite custom”.  
  7. That is, a gentile.
  8. Heb: koret; in this context, “cutting” means to “seal a pact.”
  9. Jeremiah’s reference is to the description of “the covenant between the parts” at Gn.15:9-19.
  10. F:218, ls. 10-13 regards 161.4 as a marginal insertion.
  11. Heb: me`onen.
  12. Heb: `ayin; root, `-y-n. Another possible derivation is the root: `-n-n, “cloud” (BDB, p. 778)
  13. Cf. Sifra, qedoshim, per. 6:2, T. Shab. 7:14.
  14. Heb: `aynayim. A second word-play based upon the root, `-y-n.
  15. // T. Shab. 7:14.
  16. Heb: minakhesh; “ to hiss.” See nakhash (“snake”) below.
  17. Cf. Sifra, qedoshim, per. 6:2.
  18. Cf. T.Shab.7:13 and Lieberman’s comments, TK 3:96ff.
  19. =M. San. 7:11.