Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@AOL.COM


1) Ch. 1, v. 5: "Ho'il Moshe" - Moshe ?? - How do we translate "ho'il"?

2) Ch. 1, v. 13 "Va'asi'meim b'rosheichem" - It is quite puzzling that Rashi first comments on the word "b'rosheichem" and only afterwards explains "va'asi'meim" although it appears earlier in the verse.

3) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Vo'atza'veh es shofteichem bo'eis ha'hee leimore" - The Sifri #16 says that even if a similar case has come in front of the judges numerous times, they should not be hasty to judge, but rather, they should investigate the details meticulously. Perhaps there are factors that could change the ruling that only come to light after in-depth investigation. How is this concept derived from these words?

4) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Leimore" - This word seems to be unnecessary.

5) Ch. 1, v. 16: "Shomo'a bein acheichem" - What lessons are derived from these words?



1) Began (The Holy Zohar, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, Sifri)

2) Made them take a vow (Sifri)

3) Expounded at length (Rabbi Saadioh Gaon)

4) Gave over the knowledge willingly, with enthusiasm (Degel Machaneh Efraim)


On the words "y'du'im l'shivteivhem" which also appear in this verse Rashi explains that there is a requirement to appoint only heads who are known to the people, knowing them intimately from previous years as upright G-d fearing people. The outward, seemingly pious appearance of a person and a most recent knowledge of his behaviour only, are far from conclusive that he is an appropriate candidate for the position. Rashi points out that once a person appears in front of Moshe cloaked in his talis, even Moshe would not know if he is truly a righteous individual (based on the Holy Zohar in parshas Yisro 18:21, "V'atoh sechezeh"). This requirement being the case, we run into a new problem. Once a person is well known from his early years, even if he was always wholesome, there is the fear that people would have an attitude of, "I knew him since he was young." Maintaining the vision of a youth in mind one reacts with, "How can such a person be a leader over me? I remember him as a little child running around ......" Possibly, this is why Moshe was brought up in the house of Paroh since the time he was a three month old baby. This kept him out of public view of the bnei Yisroel who would afterwards be required to have the greatest of awe for Moshe and treat him with tremendous honour.

Therefore Rashi first explains the word "b'rosheichem," saying that it is required to have "kovod v'yiroh," - honour and awe, of the person, this in spite of having known him from the time of his youth. Then and only then, "va'asi'meim," can I place him as your head.

Alternatively, this can be answered by noting what Rashi says on the word "va'asi'meim." Rashi (M.R. 1:8) points out that this word is spelled deficiently, "cho'seir," lacking a letter Yud between the Sin and Mem. (In virtually all Torah scrolls we find this word spelled with a Yud.) The word can be read "v'oshmom," - their guilt. This teaches us that the heads of the people are held responsible when the common folk sin, since they should have influenced them to behave properly. A story will be used to bring out the thrust of the answer. The Holy Baal Shem Tov often travelled, using supernatural powers to have his mode of transportation cover vast distances in a miraculously short amount of time. Equally miraculous was the fact that his horse and carriage arrived at the proper destination. Once he took along the legendary Rabbi Yechiel Mechel of Zlotchov. As they were travelling Rabbi Y.M. noticed a look of concern on the Baal Shem Tov's holy countenance. The Baal Shem Tov told his faithful driver Alexi that they had taken a wrong turn and must retrace their path. Such an occurrence had never before happened. This recurred again and again. A smile crept up on the face of Rabbi Y.M. who had heard of the miraculous travels of the Baal Shem, but frowned upon hearing them. Although he had now personally witnessed the miracle of travelling at a great speed, but Divine directional guidance was sorely lacking. The Holy Baal Shem Tov read the thoughts of Rabbi Y.M. and said to him, "Don't think for a moment that I do not have the ability to travel miraculously quickly and as well to arrive at my desired destination. It is only as a result of the lack of your full trust in me that Hashem has not sent me this ability on this particular trip."

Similarly in our verse, Rashi must first predicate that there is a requirement of giving honour and having fear of the appointed leaders, before stating that the communal shortcomings fall upon the heads of the leaders. Indeed, if the people do not give honour and do not hold in awe their leaders, then the guilt of the masses is not placed upon their leaders, since the leaders' ability to influence was stymied by the followers' lack of confidence in them.


1) "Bo'eis ha'hee leimore" is seemingly superfluous. These words teach that one should judge the case as if he has for the first time, "bo'eis ha'hee," heard the words of the two litigants. (Shach)

2) The word "vo'atza'veh" indicates being enthusiastic, as if this type of case has come to him for the very first time, as per the gemara Kidushin 29a, that the word "tzav" indicates eagerness and enthusiasm, both in the present and in the future. Similarly here, one should approach each case as a new one, not only when it is indeed new, but even a seemingly repetitive situation should be dealt with as if it were new. (Maskil l'Dovid)

3) The words "shomo'a bein acheichem" are seemingly superfluous. These words teach us that every time you hear the words of the litigants you should fulfill "ushfat'tem tzedek," meaning to deeply investigate their words, and not rely on the ruling you gave in a previous similar case. (N'tzi"v)


1) This teaches us that once a judge has come to a conclusion he should not tarry, causing needless stress for the litigants. Instead, "bo'eis ha'hee," at that time and not later, he should SAY his verdict. (Kli Yokor)

2) The gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 3:8 says that if Rav Huna was in court, not presiding as a judge, and heard the claims of the litigants, and realized that there was a claim to the benefit of one of them, he would state it. This is the intention of "leimore." (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

3) The Rambam in hilchos Sanhedrin 21:9 says that when the judge has heard the claims of each litigant he should repeat the essence of each litigant to make sure that he grasped the intention of their claims. This is derived from M'lochim 1:3:23. This is the intention of "leimore shomo'a." The judge should say over what he heard. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)


1) These words teach us that the judge may only listen to the words of one litigant if the other litigant is also present (gemara Sanhedrin 7b, Rambam hilchos Sanhedrin 21:7).

2) These words also teach us that the judges must hear the claims directly from the litigants and not through an interpreter, as per the gemara Makos 6b. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh).

3) As well, this teaches us that the judge should not only consider the responses given to his investigative questions, as the answers could easily be prepared by one who is coached and told the common queries a judge would ask in a case of this nature. Rather than only doing this, the judge should note the seemingly incidental nonchalant talk that takes place between the litigants, "shomo'a bein acheichem," as these words are very telling of the truth. "Shomo'a" should be understood as "perceive." There have been numerous cases recorded of clever judges who have come to the proper conclusion by carefully noting the table talk of the litigants. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

4) As well, this teaches us that the judge should rule by virtue of what he hears only, and not be swayed by what he sees. Sometimes one litigant is dressed in a most impressive manner and naturally brings in his wake a feeling of trust and respect. The second litigant might be dressed in a most shabby manner, and seem most unimpressive. This weakens the judge's respect and honour for him. Rabbi Moshe Berdugo, a most prominent judge, would lowers his eyes to the ground throughout the judicial proceedings so as not to be swayed by the appearances of the litigants. He stated that there were times when he had to lift his eyes during a judgement, and he noted that if his eyes were directed towards one of the litigants, that litigant would smile, while the other would frown. Having learned this lesson, he was very careful to avoid looking at either of them. Thus, "shomo'a bein acheichem," only listen to the words that pass between the two litigants, but do not use your eyes during the court proceedings.



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

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