“And they shall respond, saying:” (Dt.21:7)—
in the Holy Tongue.2
“Our hands have not spilled this blood” (Dt.21:7)—
now, who could imagine that
elders of the court might be murderers?
Rather, their point is:
Never did he approach us,
that we sent him off [without provisions],3
And never did we see him,
That we left him [to travel unaccompanied]!
The Priests then say:
“Grant absolution to Your people, Israel!” (Dt.21:8).4
When He continues:
“Whom You have redeemed, HASHEM” (Dt.21:8)—
this teaches that the formula of absolution
even absolves the blood-guilt of those [unwitting killers]
who left Egypt [but died before the rite was
taught to Moses].5
“Grant absolution to Your people” (Dt.21:8)—
this refers to the living.
“Whom You have redeemed” (Dt.21:8)—
referring to the dead.
This explains that
even the dead need absolution.
We turn out to learn that
The blood-spiller’s sin even
affects those who left Egypt!
“Whom you have redeemed” (Dt.21:8)—
for this reason did You redeem us,
so that there not be among us anyone
guilty of spilling innocent blood!
For this reason did You redeem us,
so that when we sin, You can absolve us!
And the Holy Spirit says:
Whenever you perform this rite,
the blood of the calf will grant you absolution! 6
“And may you expunge the innocent blood
From your midst” (Dt.21:9)—
that is, expunge the evil-doers from Israel!7
- //Sifre Nu, 39, s.v., bileshon haqodesh; Mech.ISH, bakhodesh, par.2, s.v., koh bileshon haqodesh..
- The clauses. “without provisions” and ‘to travel unaccompanied” appear to be scribal interpolations based upon the text of M. Sot.9:6.
- //M. Sotah 9:6.
- Cf. T. Sotah 9:2.
- //M. Sotah 9:6. See F:244, n.4.
- A similar formula based upon the root, bo`er (“expunge”) appears widely scattered throughout Sifre. See Pisqa’ot 151.1, 155.1, 187.3, 220, 240, 241