Parsha Mitzvot-Mishpatim-Mitzvah 45 – Concept 548
“One who strikes a man so that he dies, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12) The courts must carry out the death penalty of strangulation. The Rambam derives this from another verse, Leviticus 20:10. (Rambam, Hilchot Sanhedrin – The Laws of the Sanhedrin and the Punishments Within their Jurisdiction)
My Rebbi, Rav Yochanan Zweig Shlit”a, spoke of this verse and its parallel in Vayikra, “And a man, if he strikes any life, he shall be put to death.” (Vayikra 24:17) Rashi explains that without the verse in this week’s portion we would think that someone is put to death simply for striking someone who has a soul. The Torah wanted to create that possibility in our minds to remind us that one who possesses a soul is so holy there is a consideration that we would deserve death for simply striking him or her.