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    The end of Parshas
    Emor contains the
    tragic incident of the

    Megadef (Blas-
    phemer). Moshe and

    the rest of the Jewish

    people did not initially know the appro-
    priate punishment for one who cursed

    the Name of G-d, so the violator was

    placed under guard pending clarifica-
    tion from Hashem what his fate was to

    Rashi deduces from use of the pronoun
    “they placed HIM (vayanichuHU) in
    confinement” that the blasphemer was
    placed in confinement by himself. Even
    though the incident of the chopper of
    wood on Shabbos (mekoshesh eitzim)
    happened at the same time and he too
    was placed in jail pending further
    instructions from the Almighty, they
    were not placed in the same jail cell. [In
    the case of the Shabbos desecrator, it

    was known that he was deserving capital
    punishment, but it was not known at the
    time which form of punishment was
    I saw a very interesting insight in the
    Sefer Ikvei Erev by a Rav Azriel
    Lankeh. Rav Lankeh asks why the two
    sinners were not placed in the same cell.
    Rav Lankeh explains that it was not yet
    known that the Megadef was going to
    be killed. If a person has not committed
    a capital crime he does not want to be
    put in the same cell as a person on death
    row. It would have been inappropriate
    “inueey hadin” [anguish of judgment]
    to place him on death row if in fact he
    himself would not have been destined
    for that fate. Until they actually heard
    what his punishment was going to be,
    they put him in a separate jail cell so
    that he shouldn’t have the worry and
    concern “Look, they have placed me on
    death row with another person who is

    going to be executed.”
    This is a beautiful sensitivity on the
    part of the Torah that we do not want to
    cause this person undue distress.
    Consider what type of person we are
    dealing with: a person who committed
    the terrible crime of blaspheming the
    Name of G-d! This is not a crime of
    passion or a crime of lust. This is
    outright rebellion against the Master of
    the Universe. What pleasure does a
    person receive from cursing the Name
    of Hashem? This is a bona-fide wicked
    individual. Why should he be shown
    any sensitivity and compassion? Our
    initial inclination would be to put him in
    jail, throw away the key, and let him rot
    there! Let him worry all he wants! We
    are not exactly dealing here with a
    We see that despite all this, he is still a
    Jew and even such a Jew must be treated

    with sensitivity. We do not yet know his
    fate. The Almighty will tell us in another
    day or so. In the meantime, we need to
    show him compassion and not callously
    compound his anguish by causing him
    to contemplate a fate that might be
    worse than that which the Almighty will
    inform us he actually deserves.
    If the Torah is so concerned about the
    feelings of a Megadef, how much more
    so is it that we need to be sensitive to the
    feelings and concerns of a regular Jew
    who is not accused of such a serious