What is an Asheirah?


Ramban: It is a tree that is planted at the entrance of the Beis-Hamikdash 1 as a marker for the people. 2


Ramban: Which the Torah forbade because it was customary for idolaters to plant trees outside their houses of idol-worship.


Ramban: Which explains why it is called 'Asheirah' (a sighting), like in Tehilim, 17:5 (See also Bamidbar 24:17).


Why does the Torah add the words "Kol Eitz"?


Rashbam: In order to forbid planting any tree in the vicinity of the Mizbe'ach - anywhere on the Har ha'Bayis. 1


Torah Temimah (citing Tamid, 25b): To teach us the prohibition against making wooden sun-porches in the Azarah.


Rashbam: In case one comes to worship it, as the Nochrim do - See Yirmiyah, 17:2.


Why does the Torah write "Lo Sita ... Asheirah" and not "Lo Sa'avod Asheirah" (See Sifsei Chachamim)?


Rashi: To render one Chayav already from the time of planting. 1


Rashi: Even if he does not worship it.


Why does the Torah juxtapose the Pasuk of Asheirah next to that of the judges?


Seforno: Refer to 16:19:4:4. Consequently, the Torah now presents three prohibitions which from a physical aspect, seem to enhance the Avodah, are forbidden because they are spiritually blemished: 1. - 'Asheirah', which beautifies the Mikdash, but is disgusting due to its attachment to Avodah-Zarah 1 ; 'Matzeivah,' which was favored before Matan Torah, 2 since it renders the person bringing the Korban as if he were standing before Hashem, 3 but fell out of favor after the episode with the Golden Calf, when they were no longer on that level. 4 3. 'A Ba'al-Mum', which may well improve the animal's appearance, but which is considered disgusting in he realm of Korbanos. 5


Targum Yonasan: To teach us that, just as one is forbidden to plant an Asheirah next to the Mizbe'ach of Hashem, so too, is it forbidden to include a fool (who is not conversant with Halachah) in the Beis-Din. 6


Seforno: And by the same token, it incorporates a Dayan who is incompetent (Refer to 16:19:4:4).


Seforno: See Mishpatim, Sh'mos, 24:4.


Seforno: As the Pasuk writes in Tehilim, 16:8 "Shivisi Hashem Lenegdi Tamif".


Seforno: See Shemos 33:3.


See also Seforno.


See also Torah Temimah and Ba'al ha'Turim. In similar fashion, in the following Pasuk, regarding the Isur of Matzeivos, Targum Yonasan explains comments that, just as it is forbidden to erect a Matzeivah, so too, is it forbidden to appoint a sinner as a communal leader - See Na'ar Yonasan - though it is unclear what prompts him to learn like that?


Why does the Torah prohibit planting an Asheirah specifically next to the Mizbe'ach?


Ramban: Refer to 16:21:1:1 & 16:22:2:2*.


Rashbam: Because that is where they customarily used to plant it.


Targum Yonasan: Refer to 16:21:1:2.

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