Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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1) Ch. 1, v. 1: "El kol Yisroel" - We usually find that Moshe speaks to the "BNEI Yisroel." Why was the word BNEI left out of our verse?

2) Ch. 1, v. 15: "So'rei alofim v'so'rei mei'os v'so'rei chamishim v'sorei asoros" - Ministers of thousands and ministers of hundreds and ministers of fifties and ministers of tens - Our cheder Rebbi taught us that these words mean heads over a group of 1,000 of 100, etc. Do you have any other explanations?

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. 17: "Kakoton kagodol tishmo'un" - Rashi (Sifri 17) says that this refers to treating the "godol," the wealthy man fairly. Do not say that this is the perfect opportunity to bring sorely needed funds into the hands of the poor man in a dignified manner, by judging in the favour of the poor man in this monetary disagreement. Rather, judge fairly, without taking such considerations into account. Another interpretation is to treat the poor man fairly. Do not say that it is most improper to have the wealthy man lose his case in public, especially if the amount of money in question is very little. One might want to judge in favour of the wealthy man to protect his honour, and after the court proceedings are complete, to approach the wealthy man and tell him that he really deserved to lose the case and he should pay the poor man. This is also prohibited. How does Rashi derive two insights, let alone opposite insights, from the words "kakoton kagodol?"

5) Ch. 1, v. 37: "Biglalchem" - Because of you - We find the word "biglal" used when there is a benefit to be accrued, as in the "pizmon" of "Yom l'yaboshoh," recited at the se'udoh of a bris, in the "yotzros" for the 7th and 8th days of Pesach, and on Shabbos parshas B'shalach. The phrase is "BIGLAL ovos toshia vonim," in the merit of the ancestors may You bring salvation to the descendants. How can we fit this concept into "biglalchem" of our verse?



The Kli Yokor answers that when the term "Yisroel" is used it refers to the leaders, while BNEI Yisroel refers to all the people. Since Moshe was to give ethical exhortations, he gave these words over to the leaders to in turn tell the bnei Yisroel. This teaches the lesson that the leaders have a great responsibility to give the bnei Yisroel guidance, and if necessary, to criticize, so that they may mend their ways.


The Abarbanel offers that these numbers refer to the number of litigants and defendants involved in the matter. If there were up to ten, one level of minister would judge, while if it increased then another level, up to the point of over 1,000 people, when the matter would be brought in front of Moshe. Alternatively, he offers that matters of up to 10 shkolim, etc. He ends by saying that for matters related to war there were ministers over 10 people, etc.


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)


Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura writes that Rashi derives this from the verse using the Kof of comparison twice, "Kakoton KAgodol." "KAkoton" teaches us that the wealthy man should be treated equal to the poor man in that he has an equal right to win the case. "KAgodol" teaches us that the poor man should be treated as an equal to the rich man, and if he is in the right, he deserves to win the case in court, and not publicly lose and be paid out of court privately. The Beis haLevi has a similar insight into the words "ki CHOmocho K'Faroh" (Breishis 44:18), saying that there is a comparison of Paroh to Yoseif and of Yoseif to Paroh.

However, upon looking into the words of Rashi on "KOchem KAgeir" (Bmidbar 15:15) it seems that the use of a Kof of comparison twice does not indicate a double comparison. Indeed, Rashi's first interpretation, that a judgement regarding a paltry sum should be treated with equal earnestness as one dealing with a hefty sum makes a one-way comparison only. An answer to this question would be appreciated.


The M.R. says that this means for your benefit, as understood through a parable. A maidservant accidentally dropped her bucket into a well and was unable to retrieve it. She began to cry because of the loss. The king's maidservant came by to draw water from the well and also dropped her golden bucket into the well. The other maidservant was overjoyed, saying that whoever would be sent to fetch the golden bucket would at the same time retrieve hers as well. So too, once Moshe would not merit to enter the Holy Land and would be buried in the desert, when the time for the revival of the dead would take place and Moshe will be brought into Eretz Yisroel, so will the rest of those who died in the desert.



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

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