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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Shoftim

Last week (parashas Re'eh) we asked: At the beginning of the parasha it says (Deuteronomy 11:26-28) "See, I give before you this day a blessing and a curse. The blessing that you should obey the mitzvos of Hashem your G-d which I have commanded you this day. The curse if you do not obey the mitzvos of Hashem your G-d and turn away from the way which I have command you this day to go after other gods which I have you have not known."


The blessing : RASHI: On condition that you obey.

Questioning Rashi:

What has Rashi told us with these few words?
Hint: Compare our verse with the next one about the curse.
Do you see any difference?
What is the difference that Rashi sees here?

An Answer:
When we compare the two verses, the blessing verse and the curse verse, we see they are not parallel. The curse has the usual "IF you will not obey etc." But the blessing says only "The blessing THAT you should obey etc." But, Rashi reasons, our verse must also be conditional. Thus Rashi interprets the word "THAT" (Hebrew "asher") to mean "on the condition that" which this word sometimes carries (see for example Genesis 11:7 and Exodus 20:23) where the word "asher" has this meaning. So the blessing is given "on the condition that" the people obey G-d's laws.

This slight twist in language (from IF in the case of the curse to ON CONDITION THAT in the case of blessing) has a profound implication. It means that the blessing is FIRST given to the people, then they must fulfill the mitzvot. The curse on the other hand is given only IF they transgress. Meaning that this world is initially full of G-d's blessings, we receive them gratis, only once we receive them must we then obey His conditions. The message is a very positive view of life, conveyed to us by the brief comment of Rashi.

Now to this week's sedra:

Parashas Shoftim

Among the laws of Judges and judicial conduct is included the following:

Deuteronomy 16: 19:

"Do not pervert justice do not display favoritism and do not accept bribery, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous."


Do not accept bribery: RASHI: Even to judge justly.

Rashi tells us that a judge may not take a bribe even to decide in favor of the just claimant.

Why does he conclude this? on what basis?
Your Answer:

Next week IY"H will offer an answer.

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