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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 15: "Ho'achas ahuvoh v'ho'achas snu'oh" - One who is loved and one who is hated - The Torah permits polygamy. However, Rabbeinu Gershom Mo'ore Hagoloh instituted that one have no more than one wife at a time, monogamy. As well, the torah allows for a person to divorce his wife against her will, and Rabbeinu Gershom also instituted that one may only divorce his wife with her consent.

The Holy Admor of Tchetchinov relates that he heard from his brother-in-law Rabbi Y.Y. Sekula the Sadovner Rov that the Holy Admor of Ostrovtze was requested by a leading Admor to sign on a "hetter mei'oh Rabonim," a writ that allows one to marry a second wife in very extending circumstances. The Holy Admor of Ostrovtze was very reluctant to sign and excused himself for not cooperating with the following explanation:

It is well known that Rabbeinu Gershom has an added appellation of "Mo'ore Hagoloh," a light unto the Diaspora. It is well known that Rabbeinu Gershom has an added appellation of "Mo'ore Hagoloh," a light unto the Diaspora. Why among all the Rishonim did he merit to be given this title? The Rambam in hilchos teshuvoh 7:5 writes that when Yisroel will repent they will be redeemed. Since we find ourselves in the Diaspora it is evident that we have not yet fully repented and are stained with sin. Hashem's relation with the bnei Yisroel is that of a husband and wife, as related in the gemara Brochos 57a. Hashem has two options in dealing with His "wayward" wife, either to divorce her, i.e. to remove from the bnei Yisroel the status of the "chosen nation," or to marry another wife, i.e. to take another nation as His chosen one.

Rabbeinu Gershom instituted that the bnei Yisroel do neither of these acts, not to divorce a wife against her will, nor to take a second wife. By instituting these two rulings Rabbeinu Gershom hoped that it would bring about a reciprocal treatment from Hashem, that He also neither send us away, nor take another nation as His chosen one.

"I too," said the Holy Admor, "am afraid to sign a writ of this sort, which would allow one to take a second wife. I fear that I will either be fired from my position as Rabbi of my community, or that I might not be fired, but another Rabbi might be brought into the community. This is because I rebuke them very strongly for their spiritual shortcomings. It is only for a Rabbi who has control of his congregation through a kind and loving demeanour to sign such a document."

Ch. 21, v. 15: "V'ho'achas snu'oh" - And one who is hated - We have dealt at length with the difference between the synonymous words "oyeiv" and "sonei" in Oroh v'Simchoh, Meshech Chochmoh on Eichoh. The Rada"k in his Sefer Hashoroshim entry Alef-Yud-Veis writes that an "oyeiv" is a more severe enemy than a "sonei." He proves this from our verse which says that one wife is "snu'oh," - hated. It is obvious that she is not truly hated, as he has married her. Rather, she is less loved than the man's other wife. Thus the word "snu'oh" cannot mean a severe form of hatred.

Why indeed does the Torah express "less loved" with the word "snu'oh," - hated? Perhaps this conveys an important lesson in human relations. When a person anticipates and expects a certain level of closeness and is disappointed, albeit only slightly so, as is the case with the less-loved wife, it is not taken lightly, but rather, is interpreted as hatred.

Ch. 22, v. 3: "Lo suchal l'hisa'leim" - You may not look aside - The mishneh Gitin 5:3 says that if one finds a lost object and upon returning it has a claim against him by its owner that not all of the lost object was returned, for example, only five of ten dollars was returned, the finder need not swear that he returned all that he found. Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura explains that if we required the finder to swear people would be reluctant to do so and would not return found objects.

This seems puzzling, since truthfully swearing is not a transgression of any Torah law, while not returning a found object is, as per our verse. Rabbi Yitzchok Yeruchom Diskin answers based on the words of the gemara B.M. 30a that one is only responsible to return an item that if it were his that was lost he would put in the same effort to get it back. Thus, since the average person would not want to swear, even truthfully, to get his own object back, he would not be responsible to return an object to another if it were to entail having to swear. (Brought in Har Zvi)

Ch. 22, v. 4: "Chamore ochicho" - The donkey of your brother - Rabbeinu Bachyei points out that in parshas Mishpotim we find "shor oyivcho o chamoro" (Shmos 23:5), or the donkey of your enemy. He explains that after one has shown kindness to his enemy, he gains an affinity for his fellow ben Yisroel, even an enemy, and his enemy becomes his friend.

The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the gemara P'sochim 113b explains that the enemy referred to by the Torah can only mean a person who has sinned and not repented, as only such a person is it permitted to hate. Thus in parshas Mishpotim, before the sin of the golden calf it was common to find a person who was untainted with sin. Our parsha, which was after the sin of the golden calf, refers to all as friends, as even if you come upon someone who has sinned. You yourself are also not blemish free, and thus have no right to hold your fellow ben Yisroel in contempt.

Ch. 23, v. 6: "V'lo ovoh Hashem Elokecho lishmoa el Bilom va'yahafoch Hashem Elokecho l'cho es hakloloh livrochoh" - And Hashem your G-d did not lust to hearken to Bilom and Hashem your G-d reversed the curse to a blessing - If Hashem has not hearkened to Bilom and his curse was never uttered, why was it necessary to turn a non-existent curse into a blessing? The Holy Admor of Satmar, whose yahrtzeit took place this past Sunday, answers that Rashi on the words "ora'recho orur umvorachecho boruch" (Breishis 27:29) points out that this is the opposite of the order we find in the words of Bilom, "m'vorachecho boruch v'ora'recho orur" (Bmidbar 24:9). Rashi explains that the true blessing of the righteous starts off with difficulty and ends with ease. Not so with the wicked. They begin with pursuing pleasure, but end up in dire straits. This is why Yitzchok's and Bilom's words were said in opposite order. The Y'fei Toar asks on Rashi that the words of Bilom were not really his own, but rather the words Hashem placed into his mouth. If so, why is the order that of the wicked?

The M.R. says that because Lovon gave Rivkoh a blessing before her departure with Eliezer to marry Yitzchok, she was not able to bear children for many years. This was so that no one should say that her children were the result of the blessing of a wicked person. It was only after many extreme entreaties by Yitzchok and Rivkoh that they were blessed with offspring.

If so, why did Hashem allow Bilom to bless the bnei Yisroel? Would not their later successes be attributed to the blessing of the wicked Bilom? The answer is that it is exactly because of this concern that Hashem placed into Bilom's mouth a blessing that was expressed in the manner of the wicked, beginning with good and ending with bad. When everyone would note that the successes of the bnei Yisroel were only realized after going through difficulties, they would realize that the good did not come as a result of Bilom's blessings. We can now understand our verse as saying: Not only did Hashem not allow Bilom to ch"v curse the bnei Yisroel, but even when he expressed a blessing, Hashem turned the words around, having Bilom say the blessing before the curse, va'yahafoch Hashem Elokecho l'cho es hakloloh livrochoh," so that all the nations of the world should realize that the bnei Yisroel's successes stem from the blessings of Yitzchok, and not from Bilom.



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

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