subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


Ch. 1, v. 1: "Eileh hadvorim" - Rashi says that because Moshe was delivering words of rebuke he expressed himself in a veiled manner and recounted the negative happenings by allusion only.

The Malbim once delivered a fiery speech on Shabbos to his congregation about the importance of shmiras Shabbos. On Sunday morning a prominent by wealth member of the congregation burst into the home of the Malbim, livid with rage. "What right do you have to insult me in public?" he ranted. "Don't you know that to embarrass your fellow man in public is worse than all the desecration of Shabbos that goes on in the whole world? Aren't you aware of my being one of the greatest donours to all community needs and that a sizeable portion of your wages comes from my pocket?" And on and on and on......

When the Malbim was finally able to squeeze in a word edgewise he remarked, "My, your hat looks so good on you. Did you have it custom made?" The congregant looked quizzically at the Malbim, wondering why he responded with a non sequitur. He went into high gear once again, criticizing and belittling the Malbim for so terribly shaming him in public. Once again the Malbim found a crack of space in the diatribe, when it was necessary for the congregant to catch his breath. Once again, "My, your hat looks so good on you. Did you have it custom made?" At this point he replied, "No, I did not have it custom made. Just like everyone else does, I went into a haberdashery and tried on a few hats until I found the one that suited me and then purchased it."

"If so," said the Malbim, "what do you want from me? Don't you remember that on the previous Shabbos I spoke about the importance of charity? I also had an irate visitor on Sunday. He was a very wealthy member of our community who is very miserly. He had complaints similar to the ones you have just voiced. Believe me, I had no particular person in mind. Every week the people who fall short in the subject matter that I raise come to me and complain about my embarrassing them. I am like the hat manufacturer. I make different speeches on a variety of mitzvos, meaning to attack no one. Those who feel that the speech fits them are like those who choose a hat from the rack that fits them perfectly."

Moshe spoke in a cloaked and indirect manner. No doubt those who realized that he mentioned their failing picked their own "custom made hat."

Ch. 1, v. 17: "Lo sakiru fonim bamishpot" - In Yeshayohu 3:9 it says "Hakoras pneihem onsoh bom." Rashi explains that this means that their appearance has identified them as being brazen faced. We can apply this explanation to our verse. The verse exhorts the judges to not identify and recognize the litigants as being brazen faced. The reason for this is that it would change a ruling regarding the judgement of money matters. A person who has been accused of not paying back a loan and responds that he indeed owes part of what the other person claims, and regarding the rest he says that it was never borrowed, "modeh b'miktzas hataanoh," swears that what he just said is true and is believed, as per the verse in Shmos 22:8, "ki hu zeh" (B.K. 106). The gemara B.M. 3a asks why he swears. If we believe him since he admitted partially, why swear? If we fear that he is lying, it is likely that he will also swear falsely. The gemara answers that if he owes the rest as well, he truly wants to pay back all but does not have enough funds. To totally deny the loan requires a brazen faced person. We do not believe he will have the audacity to TOTALLY deny a loan in the face of the person who was kind enough to lend him money. By denying part of the loan he hopes to bide his time until he comes up with the funds to pay the rest. The oath is being administered to a person who is essentially honest.

If, however, the defendant is brazen faced, the reasoning falls apart since he is ready to deny the complete loan. If indeed he has admitted to a partial debt he would be believed without an oath, since he could just as readily denied the whole amount. This logic is called a "migu." Since Hashem does not want the ruling of the judges to change from case to case based upon their appraisal of the level of audacity of the litigants, the Torah says "Lo sakiru fonim," - do not recognize, do not identify, who is brazen faced. (Ponim Yofos)

Another interpretation of the words of our verse: Rabbi Eliezer Rokei'ach, the author of Arba Tu'rei Ovven, was a judge. When sitting in judgement he would always wear his talis and pull it far over his eyes so that when the litigants came in front of him he would hear their claims but would not see their faces. This, he said, was the fulfillment of the words of our verse, "Lo sakiru fonim bamishpot." As well, he explains the gemara Sotoh 47b which says that once there increased judges who were "ro'ei fonim b'din," usually translated as taking the side of one litigant not based on his actual proofs, there was an erosion of "lo soguru mipnei ish" (our verse) - you shall not fear any man while judging. Rabbi Eliezer Rokei'ach translated the gemara as follows: Once there increased those who looked at the faces of the litigants (and saw that one of them is a person to be feared), this brought an end to fulfilling the requirement of not fearing either litigant. He therefore cloaked his eyes with his talis to keep from seeing their faces.

Ch. 1, v. 45: "Vativku lifnei Hashem Elokeichem v'lo shoma Hashem b'kolchem" - And you cried in front of Hashem your G-d and Hashem did not hearken to your voice - Even though we have an axiom that the gate of tears is never closed, here their tears were not effective. This is because they cried only because they feared punishment. (Sforno)

The punishment was accompanied with a vow. (Ramban)

Ch. 2, v. 3: "Pnu lochem tzofonoh" - Turn yourselves northward - "Tzofon" also means hidden. The bnei Yisroel were at the edge of the land of Eisov. Eisov was always jealous of the bnei Yisroel because of the blessing Yaakov received from Yitzchok. The bnei Yisroel had massive riches from the spoils of Egypt. The verse says "turn towards hiding" your wealth. This is a major problem in recent generations and brings the wrath of the gentiles upon us. (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 2, v. 9: "Al totzar es Moav" - Do not act with hostility towards Moav - Rambam writes that this is not a prohibition for all times as we find that the bnei Yisroel chased out the residents of "shaar ha'negev," which is Amon and Moav. Ramban disagrees and posits that it is a permanent mitzvoh. Where we find that the bnei Yisroel fought Moav it was after Sancherev mixed up the world and we are not sure of anyone's ancestry. (Yaaros Dvash)

Ch. 2, v. 14: "Ad tome kol hador anshei hamilchomoh" - Until the completion (death) of the whole generation men of war - The generation that died in the desert did not wage any war. To the contrary, they feared warring with the inhabitants of Canaan. This appellation is a form of cynicism. (Abarbanel)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel