CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5768 - BS"D
1) Ch. 16, v. 18: "Shoftim v'shotrim ti'ten l'cho" - In our daily Amidoh (Shmonoh Esrei) we pray "Hoshivoh shofteinu k'vorishonoh ...... v'ho'seir mi'menu yogone vo'anochoh," which loosely translates as "Restore our judges as they once were ...... and remove from us grief and groaning." Why is this second part inserted specifically into this blessing? With almost all of the 13 requests that make up the middle section of the Amidoh, when the wish is granted it would remove the discomfort that would be present had the prayer not been answered affirmatively.
2) Ch. 16, v. 19: "V'lo sikach shochad ki hashochad y'a'veir" - And you shall not accept a bribe because a bribe will blind - The gemara Sanhedrin 21b states: Rabbi Yehudoh said, "Why does the Torah not tell us the underlying reason for mitzvos? The answer is because in the two places where the Torah did give a reason, King Shlomo the greatest person of his generation, fell through. The Torah states that a king shall not take too many wives lest his heart turn away from proper service of Hashem (Dvorim 17:17). King Shlomo reasoned that he was capable of taking many wives and still staying on the straight and narrow. Nevertheless, his wives turned his heart away from Hashem.
According to this gemara why does our verse give us the reason for not accepting bribes?
3) Ch. 16, v. 19: "Y'a'veir einei chachomim" - In parshas Mishpotim (23:8) the verse says "y'a'veir pikchim." Why the change in terminology?
4) Ch. 16, v. 20: "Tzedek tzedek tirdof l'maan tichyeh v'yorashto es ho'oretz" - Righteousness righteousness shall you pursue so that you will live and inherit the land - Rash (Sifri 16:4) says that for appointing proper judges we will merit to live and to live in the Holy Land. Why does Rashi stress APPOINTING proper judges rather than saying that by judging and abiding by the judgment we will merit ……?
5) Ch. 20, v. 5: "Asher bonoh bayis v'lo chanocho" - Rashi says that if one goes to war and dies before he has the opportunity to dedicate his new home it is a "dovor shel agmas nefesh," a matter that causes great emotional aggravation. This remark is difficult to comprehend. If this person dies in battle it is surely a matter of enormously greater aggravation than the lost opportunity to dedicate a new home.
Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a in Taamo Dikro answers this with the gemara Shabbos 139a which states that if we appoint improper judges Hashem sends punishment upon the bnei Yisroel. We therefore pray, "Restore our judges as they were in days of yore," i.e. appropriate people for the task, and thus avert punishing us, "v'ho'seir mi'menu yogone vo'anochoh."
The Divrei Sho'ul and Imrei Emes both answer that here there is no fear that a person might reason that he is above being affected by bribery since the Torah testifies that by taking a bribe the judge's sound judgment will be blinded. Once blinded, the judge will not be aware that he is blinded, so how could he rationalize taking a bribe?
The GR"A explains that a judge must be both a "chochom," very knowledgeable of the Torah laws, and a "pi'kei'ach," street-wise, so as to be able to recognize surreptitious falsehood. In spite of a judge having these two attributes, bribery blinds him.
Possibly, this would explain why in parshas Mishpotim the word "einei" is left out. The wisdom of a "chochom," to judge that which he sees on the surface, i.e. testimony, claims of the litigants, is what meets the eyes, hence "einei chachomim." A "pi'kei'ach" recognizes that which is under the surface, "din m'ru'meh," hence the word "einei" is not mentioned.
The Baal Ho'a'keidoh by the incident of S'dom in parshas Va'yeiro asks why the people were dealt with so harshly, their communities were totally destroyed, and by the incident of "pi'legesh b'Givoh" they were not judged as harshly. He answers that by Givoh, although there were many people who behaved in an extremely improper manner, nevertheless, the law of the land did not condone such behaviour. However, by S'dom laws were enacted that permitted perverted behaviour. This is much worse. Thus the Sifri is telling us that even the appointment of proper judges who will enact proper laws, even if many people will not be law abiding, brings the merits of life and inhabiting the Holy Land. (Shov Shmat'so in his preface)
The Imrei Emes answers that Rashi's intention is not as stated above, but rather that Rashi means that it is a great aggravation to have a person die in battle and instead of concentrating on repentance and becoming close to Hashem at the moment of his death, to instead have his thoughts diverted to the lost opportunity of not being able to move into a new home which he has constructed.
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