by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues
SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS YISRO 5767 BS"DCh. 18, v. 12: "Oloh uzvochim lEilokim" - An oloh and slaughtered offerings to Elokim - We only offer "korbonos" to Hashem, not to Elokim, as per the verse, "Zovei'ach loEilokim yochorom bilti laShem l'vado" (Shmos 22:19). (The concept in its simplest form is that we offer korbonos to the merciful Hashem, not to ward off punishment, although we do offer korbonos for atonement.) Yisro, according to the opinion that he had not yet converted, was still offering korbonos to ward off punishment, hence "lEilokim." (Abarbanel)
Ch. 18, v. 15: "Ki yovo ho'om" - When the nation will come - The "om" refers to the "eirev rav," the lowly within the nation. They come with complaints against everyone, claiming that as relatives of the Egyptians they have the inheritance rights to the items "taken" from the Egyptians just before the exodus. (Shaa'rei Aharon)
Ch. 18, v. 16: "Ki yi'h'yeh lo'hem dovor boh eilai" - When THEY will have a matter HE comes to me - This phrase begins in the plural form and changes to singular. Last year this answer was offered: << To answer this seeming inconsistency we might say, based on the gemara Sanhedrin, that the judge is required to create a level playing field for disputants so that there is no real or even perceived favouritism. (This goes so far as requiring that the disputants wear somewhat similar qualities of clothing!) Moshe related to Yisro that he judged so fairly that when two disputants came to him he made sure that they felt so equal that it was as if not two people, i.e. people of unequal stature, appeared in front of him, but rather, they felt so equal that it was as if ONE person came to him. (Nirreh li) >>
Some more explanations: Moshe explained to Yisro why there were long queues of people waiting to hear his judgment. Some of the people were disputants, hence "LO'HEM dovor." Others came alone, as they were not in dispute with anyone, only that they needed an answer to a halachic query. This is the singular "boh eilai." Moshe goes on to clarify what he does. When it is a matter between disputants, "v'shofat'ti bein ish u'vein rei'eihu." When it is a query then "v'hodati es chu'kei hoElokim v'es Torosov." (Nirreh li)
Tzror Hamor explains that when there is a matter between two disputants and "boh eilai," only one shows up to explain his position, then I do not listen to him, as the other party is not there to rebut his claims. I wait until the second person comes and "v'shofat'ti bein ish u'vein rei'eihu."
Another explanation: When two people come to me for a judgment, a spirit of wisdom descends upon me to help me come to a proper conclusion.
Alternatively, the verse in T'hilim 82:1 says, "Elokim nitzov baadas Keil," Elokim is present when there is a judgment. Elokim is "boh eilai."
Ch. 19, v. 3: "Koh somar l'veis Yaakov v'sa'geid livnei Yisroel" - Thus shall you say to the house of Yaakov and relate to the bnei Yisroel - The Maharsh'a in his commentary on the gemara Sotoh 21, which explains that "beis Yaakov" are the women, that the command was to tell the women to relate the values of the Torah to the men, namely by inculcating Torah values in their sons.
Ch. 20, v. 7: "Lo siso es shem Hashem Elokecho lashov ki lo y'na'keh Hashem eis asher yiso shmo lashov" - Do not evoke the Name of Hashem for naught because Hashem will not forgive the one who evokes Hashem's Name for naught - Rashi (gemara Shvuos 21a) explains that one phrase is a prohibition against swearing in Hashem's name for naught when the matter is inaccurate, such as swearing that a stone pillar is gold, and the other phrase teaches that even if it is true, but needless to point out, such as, that a stone pillar is of stone and that a wooden pillar is wood. It would seem that Rashi is translating the first "lashov" as a lie, and the second one as factually accurate. This seems to be the opposite of Targum Onkelos, who first says "l'magana," and then says "l'shikra," unless there is a reason for Rashi to explain the second "lashov" first. Perhaps we can explain the two parts of the verse based on a novel interpretation of the words "shem Hashem." We find "V'yoru kol a'mei ho'oretz ki SHEM HASHEM nikro o'lecho" (Dvorim 28:10). The gemara Brochos 6a explains that this refers to the head tefillin, "eilu tefillin SHEBrosh." The holy Shalo"h notes that the gemara says "tefillin IN the head," not ON the head. He derives from this that there is a responsibility to embody the values of the text found in the tefillin in one's mind when he wears the tefillin. He adds that otherwise it is as if the person has a stone on his head!
We can thus explain the words "Lo SISO," not as "Do not make a vow," but rather literally, "Do not uplift," as when one dons tefillin he places them upon the top of his body. Do not lift the "shem Hashem," tefillin, for naught, meaning without having the proper intentions. The next part of the verse says that Hashem will not forgive the person who "uplifts the 'shem Hashem' falsely. This refers to the story related in the gemara Yerushalmi Brochos chapter #2 (see Tosfos on gemara Shabbos 49a). The gemara says that there were unscrupulous people who would wear their tefillin in a very pious manner, creating an image of being a devout trustworthy person. One of these fakers asked for a loan from someone who was a complete stranger who had seen his "tefillin piety." The lender felt very secure with such a pious person and lent the money. When he received no payment he asked for it and was told "LaHaDaM," a.k.a. "What are you talking about? I never borrowed as much as a penny from you." The hapless lender said, "It is as you said. I did not lend you money. I lent the money to the tefillin on your head." We thus see that wearing tefillin can be done for falsehood. This is the second "asher yiso es shmo lashov," translated as "l'shikra." (Nirreh li)
Ch. 20, v. 8: "L'kadsho" - To sanctify it - The final word in verse 11, where the command of Shabbos ends, is "va'y'kadsheihu." Shabbos begins with "kiddush" on wine, and ends with sanctifying it with the "havdoloh" service, also recited on wine. (Rokei'ach)
Ibn Ezra says that the sanctity of Shabbos is embodied in Hashem's giving people the capacity to connect to spiritual wisdom on this day more than any other day of the week.
Ch. 20, v. 9: "Taavode v'osiso kol m'lachtecho" - You shall labour and do all your work - The difference between "avodoh" and "m'lochoh" is that "avodoh" is done for no physical benefit, while "m'lochoh" is done for the body's benefit and pleasure. (Tur)
Ch. 20, v. 11: "Ki sheishes yomim ossoh Hashem" - Because six days Hashem made - This phrase would seem to flow better if there were a prefix letter Beis before "sheishes" (see Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh). Rabbeinu Bachyei explains that had the verse said "B'sheishes," it would seem that there was already in existence the concept of time, and IN six days that already existed, Hashem created .. By leaving out the letter Beis we encompass not only that Hashem created the world, but also time.
Ch. 20, v. 11: "Va'yonach" - And He rested - Rabbeinu Avigdor is bothered with the word "va'yonach." It means "and He rested." However, in Breishis 2:3 the verse says "ki vo SHOVAS." "Shovas" means "He came to a stop," a concept that is different from resting. He answers that the Word Shabbos is sourced, not from REST, but rather from "SHEVVES," seated. He explains that Hashem seated the minister of Shabbos as if it were a bride, and had the celestial angels dance around the "kalloh" all the while singing "Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbos" (T'hilim 92). This is akin to "va'yonach," as one who is seated is usually at rest.
Ch. 20, v. 12: "Ka'beid es ovicho v'es I'mecho" - Honour your father ad your mother - The word "es," mentioned both by the father and the mother, includes the responsibility to honour one's father's father and mother's mother. (Rabbeinu M'yuchos)
This is an involved matter, with numerous opinions, and has been dealt with in a previous edition.
Ch. 20 , v. 13: "Lo sirtzach" - You shall not murder - Ibn Ezra writes that this includes killing through words. One can testify falsely and bring the death penalty upon someone, or speak negatively, which could bring about his death by instigating someone's anger. This also includes remaining mute when it is absolutely necessary to speak, i.e. if you know that someone diabolically schemes against another, and through your warning him he can escape, if you remain quiet, this is equated to murder.
Possibly, this is alluded to in our verse. The reading of our verse with "taam hatchtone" cantillation gives us the vowel "patach" under the letter Tzadi, while the "taam ho'elyon" gives us a "kometz." "Patach" means open, hence through opening one's mouth he can be a murderer. "Kometz" means tightened, closed. In certain circumstances by keeping one's mouth closed he is deemed a murderer. (Nirreh li - an adaptation of the words of the GR"A on this verse regarding rendering halachic rulings)
Ch. 20, v. 13: "V'rei'acho" - In your friend - Had the verse said "v'ochicho" I would mistakenly think that it is only prohibited to testify falsely against a fellow ben Yisroel. By expressing itself with the word "v'rei'acho" the Torah teaches us that it is prohibited to do so against a non ben-Yisroel as well (see Shmos 11:2, "rei'eihu, r'usoh"). (Rabbeinu Bachyei, Minchoh V'luloh)
Ch. 20, v. 13: "Eid sho'ker" - False testimony - This translation begs clarification, as the verse should have said "eidUS." Ibn Ezra writes that this problem plagued him for many years. He answers that the "eid" is a noun of direct address, and the verse is talking to the person contemplating testifying falsely. "YOU, the false witness, do not testify!" This explanation seems to require clarification, as he is being called a false witness without having yet sinned. As well, why does the Torah speak to him directly and not to the murderer, "Rotzei'ach lo sirtzoch," and so on?
Rabbeinu Bachyei explains that had the verse said "eidus," it would limit the sin to testifying falsely only. Now that the verse says "eid," it includes in its prohibition to hire another to testify falsely.
See Oroh V'simchoh (Meshech Chochmoh) for another answer.
Ch. 20, v. 14: "Lo sachmode" - Do not lust - This prohibition covers his house, and a second "lo sachmode" for his wife, slave, maidservant, ox, donkey, and all his other possessions. Why do we need a repetition of the words "lo sachmode"? An answer would be appreciated.
In Dvorim 5:18, we likewise have "v'lo sachmode," but only mentioning your friend's wife. For the rest of the list we have "v'lo sis'a'veh." Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvos #265 writes that "taavoh" brings to "chimud." "Taavoh" is the basic lust for something, while "chimud" is the action of attempting to acquire it, and they are two distinct sins. "Chimud" is a transgression even if he pays for it, if it involves grinding down the owner's resistance. Why our version of the Ten Commandments leaves out "lo sis'a'veh" remains to be explained.
Ch. 20, v. 14: "Beis rei'echo .., Eishes rei'echo" - Your friend's house .., Your friend's wife - In Dvorim 5:18 we find the prohibition of lusting a friend's wife ahead of his house. Abarbanel explains that the order of our verse is that of the most coveted thing first, which is a house, as one who is single or married requires a roof over his head. The verse in Dvorim deals with the item that has the strictest punishment, namely, committing adultery, and then taking his house, which carries a lesser punishment. The Ibn Ezra has another explanation for the changed order.
A field is not mentioned here, but mentioned in Dvorim. The Rokei'ach who answers this by saying that at the time the Ten Commandments were repeated, the bnei Yisroel were in control of the lands of Sichon and Og, hence the need to deal with fields. Once a field is mentioned, and obviously after a wife, the house was pushed off to later, to be next to the field.
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM
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 email@example.com