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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 25: "Hashofeit kol ho'oretz lo yaa'seh mishpot" - Would the Judge of all the land not do justice - On a simple level we understand the words "hashofeit kol ho'oretz" in Avrohom's plea to mean that if we were dealing with a small-time judge who does not issue verdicts that are in line with justice, it would not be so startling, as he is not a major judge, and his influence is also limited. However, since Hashem is the Judge over the whole world, His not administering fair rulings is catastrophic.

Perhaps we can explain these words in a different light and Avrohom's words would have a deeper meaning.

The mishnoh R.H. 4:2, gemara 16a, says that all living creatures pass in judgment in front of Hashem like "bnei Morone." The gemara 18a explains that this means that they pass in single file. Rabbi Yochonon adds that even though they pass in single file, all are scanned in one go, "kulom niskorim biskiroh achas". Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura in his commentary on the mishnoh quotes the Rambam, who says that to grasp the answer to this seeming contradiction requires very deep understanding.

Three explanations follow:

1) Based on the concept that a person is not only held responsible for his direct actions, but also for all repercussions that come out of them, each person Is individually judged for his actions, but at the same time is also judged for all future effects brought about by his actions. This calculation is called "skiroh achas." (Rabbi Eliyohu Lopian)

Some say that this calculation only takes place at the end of days, when all repercussions down until the last generation have taken place. This day is called "yom hadin hagodol v'hanoroh," the day of the great and awesome judgment.

2) Based on the concept that Hashem's judgment takes into account not only the defendant, but also all who would be affected, i.e. if a person deserves to be incarcerated for a year, his wife and children, who are totally innocent, suffer the anguish of being without a husband and a father. This is not taken into account by a flesh and blood judge, but Hashem does take this into account. This is the intention of the verse, "Keil emunoh v'ein o'vel tzadik v'yoshor hu" (Dvorim 32:4, see Rashi d.h. "tzadik" who writes that ALL accept His judgment as fair). This calculation of taking into account all of those who might be affected is called "skiroh achas." (Kelmer Mashgiach)

3) Based on an insight into Rashi on parshas Noach where the verse states that Noach was a righteous man "in his generations" (Breishis 6:9) where Rashi says that this can be understood in two ways; either that Noach was righteous to a certain level in his generation, and because of that generation he was limited to a certain level, as he was drawn down by his environment's negative influence, and had he lived in the generation of our patriarch Avrohom, he would have been strongly influenced for the better, and would have been much greater, or that he was only considered a righteous person of note in his generation, as almost all others were lowly, and had he lived in the generation of Avrohom, who was very righteous, Noach's level would have paled in comparison. Numerous commentators say that there is no disagreement between these two explanations as to Noach's level of righteousness. Rather, they only disagree what the verse is stressing. All agree that to be a worthy person, Noach would have to be greater if he was exposed to Avrohom, and less worthy when actually compared to those among whom he lived. This is because one is strongly influenced by his surroundings, being drawn downwards by lowly people, and propelled upward when in the company of lofty people, as per the Rambam hilchos dei'ose 6:1, who exhorts us to live among worthy spiritual people, and not among lowly, negative people.

Thus it is only fair to judge a person by taking into consideration his environment, not just his actions. This is the meaning of judging each person individually, taking into account his personal actions, "kivnei Morone," while at the same time taking into account the actions of all those around him, "biskiroh achas," to fairly decide what can be expected of a person living in such a spiritual climate. (Rabbi Simchoh Wasserman)

Given any of these three explanations of "skiroh achas," Hashem judges the "whole world" each time He judges an individual. How ironic it would be to have the "shofeit KOL HO'ORETZ" not judging fairly. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 21, v. 7: "Heinikoh vonim Soroh" - Soroh nursed children - Rashi questions the word "vonim," CHILDREN. Didn't Soroh only nurse one child, her son Yitzchok? Rashi answers that the wives of the guests brought along their young nursing children. These women spoke negatively of Soroh, saying that she was too old to conceive and give birth to a child. No doubt she picked up a waif from the street. To counter this Soroh nursed their children, thus negating their negative assertion. Surely people spoke badly of Soroh before the occasion of this festive meal. If so, why did Soroh wait until now to nurse others' children? The Ramban in hilchos ishus 21:12 writes that if a woman offers to nurse her acquaintance's son along with her own child, her husband may insist that she not do so, as she might not have sufficient milk for his child. Therefore Soroh on her own never offered to nurse someone else's child. However, this was the day that Yitzchok was weaned, "Vayigdal ha'yeled va'yigomal" (verse 8), so there was no reason to not nurse someone else's child. (Rabbi Chaim Brisker)

Ch. 21, v. 17: "Baasher hu shom" - As he is at the present - The Baalei Tosfos ask, "Why do we judge the ben soreir u'moreh, the rebellious son, 'al sheim sofo,' - for that to which his acts will eventually lead, i.e. murder (Mishnoh Sanhedrin 71b), even though he has not yet murdered anyone, and yet by Yishmo'eil we find that Hashem saved his life by miraculously producing a wellspring in the desert (verse 19) even though his progeny would eventually cause some of the bnei Yisroel to die from thirst, because of the dictum that we judge a person by the situation at hand and not by considerations of what the future holds, "ba'asher hu shom," as per the gemara R.H. 16b? They give two answers:

1) "Hu atzmo" - The rebellious son has sinned HIMSELF, while it is only the descendants of Yishmo'eil who have sinned regarding water.

2) "Mas'chil b'a'veiroh" - The rebellious son has already BEGUN sinning by stealing, thus he has started down the road to eventually committing murder. Yalkut Reuveini on parshas Ki Seitzei offers a third answer in the name of the Sefer Galanti:

3) "Y'fas to'ar" - Since the union that brought about the existence of the ben soreir u'moreh was between a ben Yisroel and a "y'fas to'ar," someone who the Torah frowns upon marrying and only does this as a concession, and as well the Torah indicates that no good will come of this union (see Rashi on Dvorim 21:11 d.h. "v'lokachto"), putting him to death even before he has killed is justifiable.

There is an allusion to the question raised and to the answers given within our verse. (See Niflo'ose MiToro'secho page 174 who says part of the following.) If we take the words "V'LO YISHMA" and the two following letters from the beginning of the next word "A'Leihem," we have "V'LO YISHMO'EIL." This indicates that the outcome of this situation is not the same as by Yishmo'eil. The reason that it is different by the ben soreir u'moreh is shown by the remaining letters of "a'leiHeM, Yud-Hei-Mem. The letter Yud stands for "Y'fas to'ar," Hei stands for "Hu atzmo," and Mem stands for "Mas'chil b'a'veiroh."


QUESTION: Ch. 14, v. 3: "Hu yam Ha'melach" - It is the salt-sea - Rashi on verse 7 twice states that names mentioned in the verse were not yet existent and yet were used in the verse "al shem ho'osid," because they would be so named in the future. If so, why didn't Rashi say the same here, four verses earlier,since it only became Yam Ha'melach after S'dome and Amoroh were destroyed?

ANSWER: "Eimek Hasidim" means VALLEY of the Sidim. "Yam Ha'melach" means the salt-SEA. The same place cannot be both a valley and a sea. We must say that it was once a dry valley and then later filled with salty water. Indeed, Rashi says this. It is obvious that we are speaking of two different time periods and therefore Rashi does not mention "al shem ho'osid." When a place has two names there is the possibility that it was given two names. However, if a name is mentioned because of a happening in the future or named after a person who was not yet born, Rashi points out "al shem ho'osid."



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

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