subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues


Ch. 16, v. 18: "Shoftim v'shotrim ti'ten l'cho" - The Tzror Hamor interprets: Before you judge someone else, place judges and officers upon yourself, to assure that you behave properly. Only then is it appropriate to judge others.

Ch. 16, v. 18: "B'chol sh'o'recho" - By establishing courts in all communities this lightens the work load of each court, thus relieving the judges of having to rush through the cases brought for adjudication. They are thus less likely to make mistakes. As well, by knowing that there are numerous other courts, the judges will be prompted to thoroughly study the information brought in front of them, so as to come to a proper conclusion, since litigants who might feel that they were judged improperly have the option to take their case to another court. This insight explains how the verse begins with the appointment of judges, "ti'ten l'cho" and switches to the responsibility of the judges, "v'shoftu es ho'om mishpat tzedek." (Rabbi Shmuel Alter)

Ch. 16, v. 19: "Y'a'veir einei chachomim" - In parshas Mishpotim (23:8) the verse says "y'a'veir pikchim." The GR"A explains that a judge must be both a "chochom," very knowledgeable of the Torah laws, and a "pi'kei'ach," street-wise, so as to be able to recognize surreptitious falsehood. In spite of a judge having these two attributes, bribery blinds him.

Possibly, this would explain why in parshas Mishpotim the word "einei" is left out. The wisdom of a "chochom," to judge that which he sees on the surface, i.e. testimony, claims of the litigants, is what meets the eyes, hence "einei chachomim." A "pi'kei'ach" recognizes that which is under the surface, "din m'ru'meh," hence the word "einei" is not mentioned.

Ch. 16, v. 21: "Lo sita l'cho asheiroh eitzel mizbach Hashem Elokecho asher taa'seh loch" - The Imrei Shefer says that the words "Asher taa'seh loch" teach us that this prohibition applies even to a "bomoh," a personal altar. Actually this is an open Sifri, pisko #145.

Ch. 16, v. 22: "V'lo sokim l'cho matzeivoh" - The Holy Kedushas Levi interprets: Don't make L'CHO, that which is for you, your needs, a monument, a permanent fixture. This world is ephemeral, and only a preparation for the world to come.

Ch. 17, v. 1: "Lo sizbach laShem shor vo'seh asher y'h'yeh vo moom" - The Sha"ch sas that the juxtaposition of this verse to the rules of judges, is to teach us that a judge should not justify his taking bribes and using this income for a holy purpose, such as to bring sacrifices. Our verse tells us that this is considered a flawed offering, "asher y'h'yeh vo moom." (See Ramban on Dvorim 23:19)

Ch. 17, v. 5: "V'ho'tzeiso es ho'ish hahu o es ho'ishoh ha'hee" - By the sin of adultery of a betrothed woman (Dvorim 22:24) the verse says "v'ho'tzei'sem es shneihem." Why doesn't that verse follow the terminology of our verse and say "v'ho'tzei'sem es ho'ish hahu v'es ho'ishoh ha'hee?" The Meshech Chochmoh answers that the Rambam in hilchos Sanhedrin 14:10 says that the court must be especially cautious and patient when ruling a capital case. It may never judge two such cases in one day. An exception is when two people were involved in one act and their punishment would be the same type of death penalty. Then they may be judged in one day. We see from this that even if two people do the same sin they are not judged on one day. It is only when they do the sin together, i.e. adultery, that they may be judged on the same day. (This is contrary to the opinion of Rashi on Sanhedrin 46a that even when not involved in the same act both may be judged on the same day.) Our verse is discussing the sin of idol worship. Even if ch"v a large number of people sin in unison, each person is acting independently. Thus the verse separates the bringing to justice of each person. The verse in Dvorim 22:24 discusses adultery. The two sinners have done one act together. Therefore their cases may be judged the same day, and as well, their death sentences may be carried out at one time.

Ch. 17, v. 6: "Yumas ha'meis" - Translated literally, these words mean "the dead man should be put to death." This can be explained with the M.R. Eichoh 1:41 mentioned last week. The M.R. says that the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim by its enemies was like "kimcho tchino tochanto," - grinding already ground flour, meaning that the sins of the bnei Yisroel have already destroyed the Beis Hamikdosh and Yerusholayim in a spiritual manner, thus allowing the enemies to destroy it physically. Similarly, we can say that there is a sanctuary, a life force, in each person, "V'osu li Mikdosh v'shochanti b'sochom" (Shmos 25:8). When a person sins he destroys the sanctuary, as per the above M.R., and extinguishes his life force. Thus when he is put to death, spiritually he is already a dead person.

Ch. 17, v. 9,10: "V'dorashto v'higidu l'cho eis dvar hamishpot, V'osiso al pi hadovor asher yagidu l'cho" - Two people had a disagreement regarding a large sum of money. They came to the father-in-law of Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky to give a ruling. He suggested that they present their claims to Rabbi Abramsky and agree to abide by his ruling. They agreed to do so. The plaintiff had a claim against a great Torah scholar. When the scholar presented his defense, he brought a long list of proofs from the Shulchan Oruch Ch.M. The proofs seemed very convincing. Rabbi Abramsky said that he would need numerous hours to sort through the information that was presented. Upon delving into the proofs offered by the Torah scholar, he realized that not only were they not proofs in favour of the plaintiff, but some had the reverse affect, being proofs for the claim of the plaintiff. After completing his investigation Rabbi Abramsky ruled in favour of the plaintiff, and obligated the Torah scholar to pay 600 rubles, the full claim. The shocked scholar immediately responded with, "What is your source for this ruling?" as is his right, as stated in Ch.M. #14:1,4. Rabbi Abramsky responded that he was not required to do this until after the money was given to the claimant. He explained that logic dictated that if he were to first divulge his reasoning there is the possibility that the loser would counter with refutations, and these would in turn be rebutted, and things might ever come to a conclusion. The judge, by holding back on his reasoning has some power over the loser, since after all, he is the judge, and the loser has not rebutted his conclusion. This is lost if he discloses his sources first. The story made its way to Rabbi Chaim Brisker and he heartily agreed with Rabbi Abramsky.

It seems that this can be derived from our verses. The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains the words "v'dorashto v'higidu l'cho" to mean that when you REQUEST the reasoning behind the judges' rulings, then they are required to tell you, but otherwise they are not required to voluntarily offer it. Perhaps we can say that the words following these also qualify this requirement. When must they "v'higidu l'cho?" - when "V'OSISO al pi hadovor asher yagidu l'cho," when you have acted upon their ruling and have paid.

Ch. 17, v. 13: "V'chol ho'om yishmu v'yiro'u" - Rashi (gemara Sanhedrin 89a) says that we derive from the words "the whole nation" that although we never delay carrying out the death sentence, in this case of the rebellious scholar, an exception is made, and we wait to carry out his death penalty until around the time of the next Yom Tov pilgrimage, when "the whole nation" is present. We find a very similar expression by the death penalty of the deviating and rebellious son, "v'chol Yisroel yishmu v'yiro'u" (Dvorim 21:21). Yet there we do not derive that we wait until Yom Tov to carry out the death penalty, but rather that it be publicized that he is being put to death for being a rebellious son. The Chidushei HoRim, among others, explains that the gemara Sanhedrin 69a says that there is only a window of three months within which a person can become a "ben soreir u'moreh." Thus much of the time it is impossible to wait for the upcoming Yom Tov to carry out his penalty. Another answer if offered by the Sifsei Chachomim on Dvorim 21:21. The Rambam at the end of chapter 3 of hilchos mamrim says that there are four cases that require publicizing the sin for which one is put to death. They are: a rebellious scholar (our verse), a specific type of false witnesses called "eidim zo'mim" (Dvorim 19:20), one who teaches heresy (Dvorim 13:12), and a rebellious son (Dvorim 21:21), because by each of them we find the expression "yishmu v'yiro'u(n)."

A few details remain to be explained: The change from "Yisroel" to "ho'om," the change from "v'yiro'uN" to "v'yiro'u," and the change from "v'lo yosifu" to "v'lo y'zidun." As well, although it is understood why the Rambam first mentions the rebellious scholar, as that is the subject matter at hand, but the other three cases he lists are not in the order that they appear in the Torah.

Perhaps we can explain the use of the word "v'yiro'un" based on the words of the Meshech Chochmoh on "V'lo yoduN avosecho" (Dvorim 8:3). The gemara Kidushin 38a says that there was the taste of manna in the matzos that our ancestors took with them from Egypt. If so, why does this verse say that the manna was not known by the parents of the people Moshe was addressing? The Meshech Chochmoh answers by pointing out that there is a letter Nun at the end of "yoduN" which does not usually appear at the end of this word. He says that grammarians explain that an extra letter Nun at the end of a verb indicates a diminutive of that word. Thus the verse is saying that those who ate the manna and even the previous generation that left Egypt had at least a limited knowledge of the manna, but "avo'secho," the generations before those who left Egypt did not have even this limited exposure to manna.

Possibly, by the case of the teacher of heresy, since the Torah has already stated five expressions of animosity towards him (Dvorim 13:9), some particularly aimed at harshness during his being judged, all learn the lesson of fearing to follow his path. Thus, publicizing the sin that brings to his death penalty only adds a limited amount of fear, "yiro'uN," in the populace.

Ch. 18, v. 18,19: "Novi okim lo'hem .. komocho, Onochi edrosh mei'imo" - The Meshech Chochmoh explains that although Hashem has guaranteed that He would give the bnei Yisroel a prophet "komocho," like Moshe, nevertheless he will not totally have the capability of Moshe. (This is actually one of the 13 tenets of faith listed by the Rambam.) When Moshe was faced with the rebellion of Korach and his cohorts, he put his lifetime reputation on the line by saying, "Im k'mose .. lo Hashem shlochoni" (Bmidbar 16:29). Hashem responded to his request of "V'im brioh yivro Hashem" (verse 30). However, later prophets, even if faced with such a challenge should not respond as Moshe did. Instead, "Onochi edrosh mei'imo," Hashem promises that He will take up the case.

Ch. 18, v. 22: "Asher y'da'beir hanovi b'sheim HASHEM v'lo y'h'yeh hadovor" - As per the gemara Shabbos 55a, if someone claims to have heard a prophecy from Hashem that is detrimental and it does not come to fruition, this is no proof of a false prophet. Perhaps the decree has been retracted by virtue of repentance (see Rashbam). However, when a person claims that he has received a prophecy for the good and it does not come to fruition, this is a clear indication that he is a false prophet and the end of this verse should be applied to him. The Holy Admor of Dinov in Agro d'Kaloh says that this is alluded to in our verse. It says "Asher y'da'beir hanovi b'sheim HASHEM," a term used for good decrees, rather than "b'sheim ELOKIM," indicating a decree that is harsh.



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

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