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by Daneal Weiner

Welcome. Last week, if you were on your toes, heck, if you were on your back, a big question should have jumped off the page. From the first lines of R'ay, the implication is, as I wrote, that Bnei Yisrael are standing at Mt. Grizim and Mt. Eival in the area of Shchem. Of course this can't be! Moshe wasn't allowed into Erets Yisrael nor had Yehoshua led B'Y into E'Y yet. We need not even go there because just two verses down the Torah says, "It shall be when Hashem brings you to the land…then you shall deliver the blessing and the curse. So what is meant by the implication that they're all there now?

Rashi says that these words will be said when they get there, obviously bothered by the discrepancy. The Sha'arai Aharon says that what Moshe is showing them now is the 'derech', the road to the blessing and the curse. That is indeed for the here and now. Once B'Y gets into E'Yisrael, then they can go to Shchem and get an actual bracha.

The B'air Yoseph answers the problem a little differently but not before making it a little bigger. He wants to know why the verse begins with 'R'ay' which is singular and 3 words later is 'lifnaichem' which is plural? Now that he has a bigger question he goes a little deeper for the answer. B'Y are being taught a very important outlook on life if they want to succeed. You, the individual, have before you the 12 tribes and half are with the blessing and half are with the curse. The entire world is hanging 50/50 in the balance. Your next individual action is going to tip the scales of judgment for the world towards the blessing or the curse. What are you going to do? If you saw this picture before you acted-always- you can be assured of sticking to the derech H'.

With this introduction Moshe then begins to give over the majority of the commandments which are found in Sefer Dvarim. So continues the rest of R'ay and brings us into this weeks

Parshas Shoftim.

Verse 16:18 "Judges and officers you will appoint for yourself in all your cities…"

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein comments that the words "for yourself" is unnecessary! Certainly an appointment of judges and officers are for the sake of those in the city? What is the added message with the added words? We have an idea noting that the words 'for yourself' is singular. Rav Moshe answers that the Torah is not just concerned at the community level. Its not enough to know there is a panel working on appointments so the job is being taken care of for you. Every single person has to appoint judges and officers for themselves. Introspection!! Have your own judge! Are your actions measuring up? Are you closer to H' then last week, month, year? Set up indications, mile markers, to jugde your direction. Not only this. Set up officers who enforce the laws of the judges? When you know you do wrong, do you 'ticket yourself'? (I give myself a bribe to look the other way.) The Raishis Chachmah used to put aside large sums of money and he would tell himself that if he failed at controlling a character trait he would give the money away! I tried that once for not eating junk food. I should try it for not speaking junk words.

16:19"…and you will not accept a bribe because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise…'

A Gemorah Shabbos says that any judge who passes an absolutely true judgment is like a partner with the Creator in the creation of the world. There are many ways to understand this. In a more literal sense, it could be said that G-d looked into the Torah to create the world. Well, that is said! What could be said is this partnership refers to the fact that a judge has to use the Torah to determine the laws. If Chazal come up with a particular interpretation of Torah, then H' used that interpretation retroactively to create the world! Maybe also when a Judge looks into the Torah and passes an absolutely true decision, meaning his calculations where objective and just, then his interpreation somehow also was part of how H' created the world.

An example of what I mean is a Gemorah I once heard but did not see myself, where Chazal were discussing how a tree takes in nourishment. The obvious question is why not go find a tree and test it? The answer is that based on their conclusion of proof, that is how G-d created the tree! Even if I remembered incorrectly and this wasn't a Gemorah, the analogy is still good.

Another way to look at the Gemorah Shabbos is that G-d created the world for Torah and a true judgment is Torah itself. In such a fashion a Judge can be considered as a partner. Similarly, but different, Chazal tell us G-d not only sustains the world but He constantly recreates it at every moment. As long as there is justice in the world, it gives G-d a reason to keep recreating.

An intersting question would be, what if someone wanted to give a judge bribe to judge FAIRLY!? The Bais Yoseph in Hilchos Dayanim says that if the Gemorah said "Any judge who passes a true judgment…" then we might think that any way to get to the truth would be ok. However, since it says "Any judge who passes an absolute true judgment" (emes l'amiso), this exclude every path to the truth outside of truth itself. This same idea seems reflected in the fact that our Torah verse says that bribes 'blind the eyes of the wise'. The wise? Not the crooked? No matter how honest and sincere one thinks they will be taking a bribe for fairness, they are only fooling themselves! This judge will not be a partner with Hashem. As the word "bribe" hints to, "shochad" is a contraction of "sh'hu chad", "that he's one." A judge with a bribe is a judge alone.

17:11 "You shall not deviate from the word that they will tell you, right or left" What Chazal say- goes! What we said earlier may very well be a reason. G-ds relationship with the Sages is that with what they said He creates the world. So if they say up is now down, it is!!! No matter how illogical it is to you or me. But I'm not heading this way. The word left, in hebrew is missing the letter vav. 3 verses later begins the laws for the king. Later it says a king has to have a Torah scroll in his hands at all times to read from it, fear G-d, stays humble and not to turn from the commandment right or left! This time the word left is written with the vav!? The B'air Yoseph wants to know why???

Rashi says that even if the Sages say left IS right, we all are to follow them all the way. Why? The Sefer HaChinuch explains that even if the people feel the Sages did pass a bad law, we are far better off acting with unity in the sin than losing confidence in the Rabbis and turning to anarchy. The Sifri says forget about persectives. Whats the reality? How could an average Jew know better then a Talmid Chacham, a Jew who has committed his life to studying??? The B'air yoseph answers with this Sifri that when the Torah was talking about the people compared to the Rabbis, the world left was missing the vav. To the people it might look like a left, smell like a left, taste like a left, but it is still missing a letter. it might not be left. We can't even know left and right compared to our Rabbis.

But the king, he is a Talmid Chacham. He devotes his life entirely to H'. He has to have the Torah in his arms because he has to know what the emes is! AND STILL, he can not turn from the words of the Rabbis, left or right! Even the real left!

WOW! Better listen to them Sages!

And I do believe they told you to have a Shabbot Shalom!

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