Man’s Failure: A Disgrace to God

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

“If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, you must not let his corpse remain on the tree overnight, but must bury him the same day. For a hanged body is a curse [disgrace] to God: you shall not defile the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess (Deut. 21:22,23).”

Rashi comments:

“A degradation of the Divine King, for man is made in His image and the Israelites are His children.”

Rashi first refers to the first part of the verse and I believe Rabbi Israel Chait said that the “degradation” to God is that His creations didn't follow His will and deserved hanging. This is a poor reflection on God as Creator. 

The second part, “Israelites are His children” refers to the second part of the verse that the land is contaminated. This means that the expressed relationship between God and Israel, which is the land of Israel, is now marred by the fact that this elevated nation—not simply generic man—fails God. So the two parts of Rashi identify the first issue which is a disgrace to God as Creator because his creations could not fulfill God's plan, and the second part is man's failure in the capacity of being the chosen nation of Israel.