פ’ שופטים תשע”ח
Volume 25, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholars’ Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
לא תטה משפט לא תכיר פנים ולא תקח שחד כי השחד יעור עיני חכמים ויסלף דברי צדיקים
“Do not pervert justice, do not display favoritism, and do not accept bribery, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts words that are just.” (16:19)
The Shelah HaKodesh, Rav Yeshaya Halevi Horowitz zt”l, writes about the severity of taking bribes: “Our Sages warned us very much about the prohibition of bribery…the moment one accepts a bribe, he distorts justice and turns over his merits. The remez to this is in the words lo tateh mishpat, for if one “turns over” the letters of שחד – bribery, he arrives at תטה – distortion, as the letters that follow ש.ח.ד are ת.ט.ה. Thus, what follows bribery is distortion of justice.” (Shelah)
צדק צדק תרדף
“Justice, justice shall you pursue…” (16:20)
What is the meaning of the seemingly redundant use of the word tzedek, justice? With this, the Torah disavows the prevalent attitude: the ends justify the means. The Torah tells us that the method by which you pursue justice must itself be just and truthful. Pursue justice by means of justice. Don’t use falsehood and deception in order to achieve justice. (Ma’ayanah shel Torah)
Righteousness (which is equivalent to truth) is the only quality which the Torah specifically requires us to pursue. By the same token, its opposite quality, falsehood, is the only one which the Torah specifically directs us to distance ourselves from – “Midvar sheker tirchak – “Distant yourself from a false word” (Shemot 23:7). These expressions suggest the great importance in our lives of turning away from falsehood and toward truth. Furthermore, the Torah is thereby informing us that although truth is not fully attainable in this world, we are nevertheless charged to always pursue it. We should do this with the assurance that truth will ultimately be offered to us in its full splendor in the World to Come. (Chiddushei HaRim)
ולא תקום לך מצבה אשר שנא ה’ אלקיך
“And do not erect for yourself a monument that Hashem, your G-d, detests…” (16:22)
The Bnei Yissaschar, Rav Tzvi Elimelech Shapira of Dinov tz”l, remarks that the underlying message of the words “v’lo takim lecha matzeivah” is that a person should not be too rigid and inflexible in his ways.
Rav Y.Y. Yaakovson, a renowned expert on chinush matters, once commented: “There is only one way that a parent can “ruin”his kids; if they go to chinuch classes and learn specific models and stick to them!” A parent will learn a certain approach and if it doesn’t work, rather than adapt and change, he will do the same thing over and over again because that’s what was taught in the class! Instead of assessing the matzav, the situation, properly and realizing what is good for the child, he will become more forceful in his child-rearing methods!
One must not create a matzeivah – a matzav that is etched in stone! Be open-minded, flexible and always continue learning Torah, in order to truly learn and recognize what is correct and proper in every specific situation. (Bnei Yissaschar)
תמים תהיה עם ה’ אלקיך
“You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d.” (18:13)
Rashi explains that even though it is possible to foretell the future, one should follow the Ribbono Shel Olam in perfect faith without inquiring of the future. Many commentators explain that being “tamim” with G-d is the highest level of Torah. If this is so, why do the Rambam and Sefer Hachinuch not count this as one of the positive mitzvot in their Sefer Hamitzvot?
The following divrei Torah will expound on this topic, and perhaps support the p’shat offered in the closing paragraph.
The Ramban does not list tefillah in his Sefer Hamitzvot. It seems that tefillah is one of the primary tenets that Judaism is built on. Why is it not counted among the positive mitzvot? The spine, which sustains the entire body of a person, is not counted among the 248 limbs and 365 sinews. The limbs and sinews are details, which facilitate all the needs of the human body. The spine is the essence, the very life source of the human body, and is therefore not counted among its limbs and sinews. The 248 positive mitzvot and 365 negative mitzvot delineate the specific mitzvot that every Jew must adhere to. However, tefillah is a general, fundamental mitzvah, something which encompasses everything else. It is known through chochmas hanistar – secret wisdom – that tefillah is something that stands at the pinnacle of the world. (Aruch HaShulchan)
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