From the Rav’s Desk: Meaning of Es Vaheiv Basufa

  • Question: [Wednesday, 16th Tamuz, 5783]

I have heard many times the words from Scripture of Es Vaheiv Basufa be used to describe peaceful relations between two people who were in a fight or between two scholars who argue with each other. Can you clarify how this verse hints to this idea?



The original verse which contains the words Es Vaheiv Basufa is actually discussing the journeys of the Jewish people within the lands of the Emorites and the wars that took place in those lands. The Mefarshim explain that Vaheiv Basufa is actually the name of a city in which one of these wars took place. It originally belonged to the nation of Moab, and was captured by the nation of Sichon. The Talmud in Tractate Brachos explains that when the Jewish people passed this city of Vaheiv on their way traveling to Israel, they noticed the blood and bones of the Amorite nation who tries to ambush them. This is all according to the simple Peshat of the verse. However, the Talmud in Miseches Kiddushin explains the verse allegorically to mean as follows: Rebbe Chiyah Bar Aba taught: When two scholars study Torah they become enemies of each other even if they are a father and son or Rebbe and student. However, they do not move from there until they become friends, as the verse states “Es Vaheiv Basufa” do not read Basufa but rather Besofa. Rashi explains this to mean as follows: beginning of the verse states “Sefer Milchamos Hashem” this allegorically refers to the wars of God over books, which refers to two students arguing with each other over a certain Torah matter. The verse then concludes Es Vaheiv Basufa which means that in the end [i.e. Basofa] they will be Vaheiv, which comes from the word love-Ahava, and saying that even two students who argue with each other vehemently will in the end conclude their debate as friends.


Sources: See Chukas 21:14; Rashi ibid; Even Ezra ibid; Ramban ibid; Brachos 54b; Kiddushin 30b and Rashi there

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