by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5763 BS"D
Ch. 16, v. 19: "Lo sa'teh mishpot lo sakir ponim v'lo sikach shochad" - Do not divert justice do not be prejudiced and do not take a bribe - Since the previous verse commands us to appoint judges, shouldn't this verse, which discusses the judges we appoint, express itself in the third person, "HE shall not divert, etc."? We can derive from this that if we appoint judges who transgress these three precepts we are held responsible. It is as if we ourselves have done these injustices. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
Ch. 17, v. 18: "V'hoyoh ch'shivto al ki'sei mamlachto" - And it shall be when he sits upon his kingly throne - "V'hoyoh" is an expression of joy. The gemara Yerushalmi 3:3 says that one who is elevated to a position of prominence is cleansed of his sins. It will be a great joy if the king will remain in the state of when he has just sat down upon his royal throne, i.e. he will remain free of sin. (Rabbi Mayer Arik)
Ch. 17, v. 18: "Ki'sei mamlachto" - Kingly throne - For the king to merit remaining on his throne he should fulfill the mitzvos of KiSEI, Kof-Samech-Alef. This is an acronym for Kesef, Sus, Ishoh, the three matters about which he was warned in verses 16 and 17. (Kli Yokor)
Ch. 18, v. 3: "Hazro'a v'halchoyayim v'ha'keivoh" - The arm and the cheeks and the rumen - Although many of the items given to a Kohein are listed at the end of parshas Korach, this was not mentioned there because the people of the previous generation were still alive. They would never enter Eretz Yisroel and the only meat they ate in the desert was "shlomim" sacrifices. Sacrificial animals are exempt from this mitzvoh. We are now addressing the new generation that would enter Eretz Yisroel and would eat secular "chulin" meat, which requires this separation for the Kohein. (Ramban)
Ch. 18, v. 10: "Koseim k'somim" - One who divines with sticks - Rashi (Sifri 18:59) explains that one holds onto his walking stick and asks it if he should venture on a trip or not. Baa'lei Tosfos explain that the divination takes place by taking small sticks and peeling them on one side only. When considering taking a trip one would take a few of these half-peeled sticks and toss them. Depending upon which side they would land one would decide if he should venture out or not.
Ch. 18, v. 13: "Tomim t'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecho" - Be complete with Hashem your G-d - Our verse exhorts us to be complete, i.e. have the same attitude, whether we have pleasant things or unpleasant things happen to us. Be "tomim" whether you receive "Hashem," a Name for "midas hachesed," or "Elokecho," "Elokim" being a Name for "midas hadin." (Ponim Yofos)
Ch. 18, v. 15: "Novi .. komoni .. eilov tishmo'un" - A prophet .. like me .. obey him - How could Moshe say that another prophet is like him since he was unique? Some say that this again shows his great modesty, as indicated by the numerical value of "komoni" equaling that of "onov." However, the Meshech Chochmoh says that this verse teaches us that one is to obey a prophet even when he tells us to transgress a mitzvoh of the Torah as per the prophecy that he has received. The exception to this rule is when a prophet says that he was advised to tell us to sin in the realm of idol worship. The gemara Makos 23b says that we heard the mitzvos "Onochi" and "lo y'h'yeh" directly from Hashem, and the rest of the 613 mitzvos from Moshe. Thus Moshe says that we should obey a prophet even when he tells us to transgress a mitzvoh, because the 611 mitzvos were given through Moshe, who is a prophet. Therefore we listen to another prophet as well. Even though Moshe is greater, nevertheless, both Moshe and another prophet are equal in that they are humans. The two mitzvos of "Onochi" and "lo y'h'yeh" are never to be abrogated because they were given by Hashem Himself.
Perhaps we can add another point to this insight. Moshe was greater than any other prophet. In which way was his prophecy to abrogate a mitzvoh greater than that of another prophet? Numerous times Moshe gave us mitzvos and then later said that they may be overridden, for example, to sanctify Shabbos, but to bring sacrifices and do bris miloh on Shabbos, to not marry one's brother's widow, but to do "yibum," to not wear shaatnez, but to wear shaatnez in tzitzis and the Kohein's (Godol's) priestly garments. These are exceptions that are permanent; they always override. If another prophet were to tell us to transgress and that this was a prophecy not only for the short-term, but to be a permanent ruling, we do not listen to him even for the short-term, as we are sure that this is a false prophecy. As mentioned on a number of previous occasions, the suffix letter Nun indicates a diminution (see Sefer Hashoroshim of the Rada"k entry "ish"). Even though Moshe told us to obey a prophet, he said "eilov tishmo'uN," with a Nun suffix. This limits the rule to follow the words of the prophet, as we only listen to him to abrogate a mitzvoh for the short-term, which is not the case with Moshe.
Ch. 20, v. 5,6,7: "V'lo chanocho, V'lo chil'lo, V'lo l'kochoh" - And has not dedicated it, And has not redeemed it, And has not taken her - Rashi says that these are legitimate deferments because not having done these acts of completion cause one great mental anguish. Abarbanel asks that if this was the reasoning, there should surely be a deferment for one who has already moved into his home, has redeemed his field, and who has been married for a while. He therefore disagrees with Rashi and says that the deferment is based on his having started a mitzvoh but has not completed it. He has not put a "maakoh" up, has not brought "neta rva'i." and has not been fruitful and multiplied, "pru urvu." The Sfas Emes explains Rashi in a manner that preempts the Abarbanel's question. He explains that when a person is on the threshold of something as monumental as finally being able to consume the produce of his fields and orchards, move into a new home, and consummate a marriage, if he would receive a mortal wound in battle his parting thoughts upon exiting this world would be that he lost the opportunity to complete these pursuits. These are not the type of thoughts that should occupy one's mind when he is about to give his soul back to his Maker. This is truly a matter of "agmas nefesh."
Targum Yonoson ben Uziel says that the deferments are the result of this person not having completed the mitzvoh of redemption, "neta rva'i," of putting up mezuzos, and not fulfilling the mitzvoh of bringing his wife joy.
Ch. 20, v. 8: "Ha'yo'rei v'rach ha'leivov" - Who fears and is faint of heart - Rabbi Yosi haGalili says that this refers to a person who fears that he will fall in combat because he has sinned. Even if one is not aware of having sinned, if he is faint of heart, this is because he has sinned. A person with a clean slate has the spiritual courage and confidence that Hashem is with him and that he will win in combat. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)
Ch. 20, v. 8: "V'rach ha'leivov" - And faint of heart - The Tosefta Sotoh 7:14 says that even if a person is the strongest of the strong and the most courageous, i.e. he doesn't fear the loss of his own life, but by nature is a peaceful person and doesn't have the heart to kill anyone, even his combat adversary, he is exempt from combat. This attribute will weaken the resolve of his comrades and lead to defeat, "v'lo yimas es l'vav echov kilvovo." Perhaps this is derived from the word "leivov-l'vav." "Leiv" means heart, but from the word "leivov" we derive that the Torah refers to both inclinations of the heart, the positive and the negative. We can interpret the negative as the inclination to care for oneself and the positive to care for one's fellow man. Weakness of either aspect of the heart, not only the fear that one may die in combat, caring for oneself, but even the second aspect, caring for someone else, i.e. being reluctant to kill the enemy in combat, invalidate one from participating in battle.
Ch. 20, v. 10: "V'koroso ei'lehoh l'sholom" - And you should offer it peace - What are the terms of peace? The Rambam hilchos m'lochim 6:4 says that they must accept the 7 Noachide precepts, be subordinate to you, and pay you taxes, while Rashi says that they do not have to accept the 7 Noachide precepts, but must be subordinate to you and pay you taxes.
Ch. 21, v. 8: "Ka'peir l'amcho Yisroel" - Forgive Your nation Yisroel - Since the city closest to the location of the murdered person is held responsible, why doesn't the verse say "ka'peir l'ir hazose"? Once the elders of the city have stated that they were not responsible for the bloodshed, they are at this point in time no more responsible than any other city, hence "l'amcho Yisroel." (Malbi"m)
Ch. 21, v. 8: "Ka'peir l'amcho Yisroel asher podiso Hashem" - Forgive Your nation Yisroel whom you have redeemed - Rabbeinu Bachyei brings a Sifri that explains that the money spent on the "egloh arufoh" brings atonement for the living, "l'amcho Yisroel," while charity brings atonement for those who have already died, "asher podiso." Tosfos says that this is the source for pledging money for charity when we say Yizkor on Yom Kippur.
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