פ’ שופטים – תשע”ד
Volume 5, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s 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.
שפטים ושטרים תתן לך
“Judges and police you shall make for yourself…” (16:18)
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa commented: Make for yourself judges and police, that is, before you go and make judgments about other people, judge yourself first. As the Sages (Bava Basra 60b) have said, “First correct yourself and only then correct others.” It is very easy to find fault with others. But this can easily lead to your becoming arrogant and retaining all of your faults. While we have an obligation to help others grow, keep reviewing your own behavior to see what you can improve. The purpose of police is to make certain that the laws are enforced. Similarly, when you find one of your faults do not just feel guilty about it, but take action to overcome it.
Rabbi Tzvi Michel Shapiro used to say jokingly, “If a person wants an easy way to be righteous, the solution is that he should not study mussar. Then he will consider himself completely righteous. But once a person starts to study mussar he will realize that he is far from perfect. (Growth Through Torah)
ולא תקח שחד
“Do not accept bribes…” (16:19)
The Bach cites the Talmud (Kesubos 105b) which explains that the word שחד can be interpreted as an acrostic of the words שהוא חד – he is one; i.e., alone. The Sages teach (Shabbos 10a) that when a judge renders a truthful decision, he is considered to be a partner to G-d in the Creation of the world, for the world stands on justice. However, if he accepts bribes and does not judge truthfully, then he has no partners and is חד – alone.
Chida observes that the letters following שחד in the Hebrew alphabet form the word תטה – to corrupt [ת follows ש, ט follows ח and ה follows ד]. When a judge accepts שחד – bribes – it follows that he will תטה – corrupt – his decision. Moreover, the letters that precede שחד form the word רגז – anger [ר before ש, גbefore ד and ז before ח] – as well as the word גזר – decree. When a judge accepts bribes, he causes G-d to be angry and decree punishment. (Tallelei Orot)
צדק צדק תרדף למען תחיה וירשת את הארץ
“Pursue justice so that you shall live and inherit the land.” (16:20)
Chida points out that the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 4a) writes that if one says: “This coin will be for charity so that my son shall live or so that I might merit a place in the World to Come,” he is considered a complete tzaddik. This dictum seems to contradict another teaching of Chazal (Avos 1:3) that one should not be like a servant who serves the master to receive reward. In the former case, it seems clear that that the person is giving the charity to achieve something. How, then, can the Sages consider him to be a complete tzaddik?
Perhaps the Talmud is referring to someone who had previously fulfilled the mitzvah of giving charity and is now giving for the reasons delineated. In this case, he should be considered a tzaddik since he was not required to give at all. Support for this suggestion can be drawn from our verse. The Torah states צדק צדק תרדף repeating the word צדק to imply that if one gives צדקה when he has already fulfilled the mitzvah, he may do so that he shall live or so that he shall inherit the land – i.e., he may attach a proviso since he has already fulfilled the requirement. (Tallelei Orot)
תמים תיהיה עם ה’ אלקיך
“You shall be whole-hearted with G-d, your G-d…” (18:13)
QUESTION: The verse should have stated: “Tamim tiheyeh lifnei Hashem Elokecha” – “You shall be whole-hearted before G-d, your G-d”?
ANSWER: There are many people who act very pious when they are in public, but when no one sees them, their behavior is lacking. The Torah is teaching that even when one is “Im Hashem” – “alone with G-d” – i.e. no one sees him – he should be pious to the highest degree.
The words “tamim tiheyeh” (תמים תהיה) – “you shall be complete” – have the numerical value of 910, which is also the numerical value of the word “Tishrei” (תשרי). This alludes that particularly during the month of Tishrei when the Jews look forward for a “ketivah v’chatimah tovah” – to be inscribed in the book of good life for the coming year – one should make every effort to repent and to be tamim – complete in one’s relationship with Hashem. (Vedebarta Bam)
ידינו לא שפכו את הדם הזה
“Our hands have not spilled this blood…” (21:7)
In the discussion of the Eglah Arufah which we read in this week’s parsha, we are told that when the community’s elders find a murder victim between two cities, they must make the declaration that their hands did not spill the victim’s blood.
The Gemara asks, “Would anyone possibly suspect that the elders of the beis din committed the murder?” The Gemara explains that the elders were actually declaring that they were unaware of this person’s presence in their city, which is why they did not escort him properly and attend to his needs for the road. The implication is that if someone feels that he is alone and uncared for, it can be so depressing that it affects even his will and ability to survive.
The Maharal explains this Gemara further by teaching that every individual has an inner need to feel part of a community, to know that he is not only an individual, but an integral part of the Jewish family. By escorting someone even a few steps from our homes we create an attachment between him and us, and this can provide him with the heavenly protection extended to the nation as a whole. This intense feeling of belonging is something we can provide the guests we host in our homes, and the effort it requires is worth our while. (Something to Sa
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