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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Eileh hadvorim" - These are the words - Rashi says that Moshe rebuked the bnei Yisroel in a covert manner, only mentioning the names of the places where they sinned and not overtly castigating them. However, we find that Moshe also criticized them openly, "mamrim he'yi'sem," etc. The Chasam Sofer in his droshos says that Moshe started rebuking them in a soft manner. Noting that they accepted his words he went into higher gear. The Kli Yokor says that the covert rebuke was Moshe's own words, while the overt rebuke was Moshe's repeating Hashem's words, which he could not mince or soften, as we find in verse 3, "Di'ber Moshe el bnei Yisroel k'chol asher tzivoh Hashem oso a'leihem."

Ch. 1, v. 5: "Ho'il Moshe" - Moshe ?? - How do we translate "ho'il"?

1) Began (The Holy Zohar, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, Sifri)
2) Made them take a vow (Sifri)
3) Expounded at length (Rabbi Saadioh Gaon)
4) Gave over the knowledge willingly, with enthusiasm (Degel Machaneh Efrayim)

Ch. 1, v. 7: "Uvashfeiloh uva'negev uvchofe ha'yom eretz haKnaani" - In the low-lying area and in the dry south and in the seaside and in the land of the Canaanites - These descriptions refer to specific areas of Eretz Yisroel. "Shfeiloh" refers to the low-lying areas of Lod and the south, "negev" and "chofe ha'yom" refer to the area of Plishtim, such as Ashkelon and Azoh, "eretz haKnaani" refers to Acco Yaffo and their environs. (Rabbeinu M'yuchos)

Ch. 1, v. 13: "Vaasi'meim b'rosheichem" - And I will place them as your heads - Rashi says that "vaasi'meim" is spelled lacking a letter Yud between the letters Sin and Mem, allowing it to be read "v'oshmom." This teaches us that when the masses fall short of fulfilling their responsibilities the elders are held responsible, "v'oshmom b'rosheichem."

However, upon looking into many Torah Scrolls we find they all have the letter Yud between the Sin and the Mem. This is not surprising, as the Mesorres and the Medrash often don't match. Rabbi Akiva Eiger in his footnotes to Shas, called Gilyone Hashas, on the gemara Shabbos 55b gives us a lengthy list of words where the gemara says that the word is spelled one way, and we find that in our Torah Scrolls it is spelled differently. Surprisingly, "vaasi'meim" is not included. In Sedrah Selections parshas Dvorim 5759 a number of answers are offered. However, a totally different approach to this problem is offered by the Pohr Hachaim Hakodosh in parshas Nosso on the words "kalose Moshe" (7:1). Since just about everyone who is reading this either owns or has access to a Mikro'os G'dolos Chumash, please see the words of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on your own. They are most enlightening.

Ch. 1, v. 15: "Anoshim chachomim viduim vo'e'tein osom roshim a'leichem" - Wise and known men and I will place them as your heads - The Rambam lists 7 attributes that a judge should have: Wisdom, fear (of Heaven), modesty, dislike of money, love for the truth, to be liked by others, and a good reputation.

Ch. 1, v. 15: "So'rei alofim v'so'rei mei'ose v'so'rei chamishim v'so'rei asorose" - Officers of thousands and officers of hundreds and officers of fifties and officers of tens - The officers of tens involved themselves with disagreements that had no more that ten litigants, and so on. Once there would be over 1,000 litigants the matter would be brought in front of Moshe only to judge. Alternatively, the officers of tens involved themselves with disagreements that had no more that ten "shkolim" at stake, and so on. However, when it came to matters of warfare, we understand the matters on a simple level. There were officers who administered 10 men, others over 50, and so on. (Abarbanel)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Vo'atza'veh es shofteichem bo'eis ha'hee" - And I have commanded your judges at that time - Rashi (Sifri) says that this was a warning to the judges to not be hasty in coming to a conclusion when they feel that they have already heard similar cases a number of times. Rather, they should deliberate this case as if they have never dealt with such a matter before. Each case should be viewed with a fresh new look. Perhaps this is alluded to in the words "bo'eis ha'hee." Do not judge with conclusions drawn in the PAST because you believe that the present case is a repeat. Look at it "bo'eis ha'hee;" it is a new case that has just come now for the first time.

Ch. 1, v. 17: "Lo soguru mipnei ish" - Fear not a man - This is a warning for a judge to not fear a threatening litigant. He must stand strong and judge against the threatening litigant if that is the conclusion the judge draws. However, the Medrash Tanchuma in parshas Mishpotim says that this only applies if the judge is involved in the case and sees that things are bending against the threatening litigant. If he is involved but so far there is no indication in which direction the ruling may go, he may bow out if he fears the tough litigant.

Ch. 1, v. 17: "V'hadovor asher yiksheh mi'kem takrivun ei'lai ushmativ" - And the matter that will be difficult for you you should bring to my attention and I will hear it out - Rashi (Sifri) says that because of Moshe's stating that he is capable of handling even the most difficult of cases the ruling of the inheritance of the daughters of Tzelofchod alluded him. The gemara Sanhedrin likewise says that Moshe was punished for this. The gemara then asks, "Why say that Moshe was haughty? He did not say "V'ashmi'achem," I will surely respond. He only said "ushmativ," I will hear it out. If I don't know the ruling, I will have to be taught." The gemara therefore concludes that it was in the merit of the daughters of Tzelofchod that the rulings of inheritance came through them.

This gemara should be understood as follows and the conclusion of the gemara and the statement of the Sifri will not be a disagreement. We can either understand "ushmativ" as "I will hear it out" and there is an understood connotation that Moshe would surely have a response. On the other hand, it could be understood as the gemara posits that Moshe only meant to convey that he would hear it out but was not sure that he would have a response. Since he spoke in an ambiguous manner and did not spell out clearly that he might not know the answer, Hashem held back the knowledge from him, and Moshe's not immediately responding was also open to interpretation, either as a punishment for expressing that he wa ssure he would have an answer, or that although he actually knew the answer, it was transmitted through the intervention of Tzelofchod's daughters because of their great merit. Thus Moshe was punished in kind, with an ambiguous understanding of why he did not respond immediately. (Mahari"l Diskin)

Ch. 1, v. 28: "V'gam bnei anokim ro'inu shom" - And also giants we saw there - Their claim was that if it was Hashem's will to have the bnei Yisroel inherit the land, He would have done away with the giants through a plague or the like. In verse 30 Moshe responds that Hashem will do battle for them "k'chole asher ossoh itchem b'Mitzrayim l'ei'neichem." Just as in Egypt Hashem did not destroy the Egyptians in one go, but rather did it in stages, with the finale at Yam Suf, so too Hashem would leave the giants alive so that they would later fall into the hands of the bnei Yisroel and Hashem's reputation would be exalted throughout the world. (Ha'a'meik Dovor)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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