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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Eileh hadvorim asher" - The Nachal K'dumim writes that he found in the marginal notes of Rashi that the letters of these three words are an acronym for "Emor Lifnei Hatalmidim 'Ho'omeir Dovor Bifnei Rabo Yis'cha'yeiv Miso,' Ello She'yitole R'shus."

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Ei'leh hadvorim asher di'ber Moshe" - Rashi says that these are words of rebuke. We know that the rebuke of one who cares for the well-being of the recipient of his words are better than the sweet words of an enemy, "Ne'emonim pitzei o'heiv v'natoros n'shikos so'nei" (Mishlei 27:6, see gemara Sanhedrin 105b). Rabbi Micho'eil Ber Weissmandel says that once the bnei Yisroel take Moshe's words to heart and fulfill the 613 mitzvos, they will receive a blessing rather than a curse. This, he says, is alluded to by taking the letter Beis in the word "dVorim," counting 613 letters, arriving at the letter Reish, again the same interval, arriving at Chof, again the same interval, and arriving at the letter Hei. These letters spell "brochoh," indicating that by keeping the 613 mitzvos these words of admonition will bring a blessing.

Ch. 1, v. 1: "El kol Yisroel" - We usually find that Moshe speaks to the "BNEI Yisroel." Why was the word BNEI left out in this verse? The Kli Yokor answers that when the term "Yisroel" is used it refers to the leaders, while BNEI Yisroel refers to all the people. Since Moshe was to give ethical exhortations, he gave these words over to the leaders to in turn tell the bnei Yisroel. This teaches the lesson that the leaders have a great responsibility to give the bnei Yisroel guidance, and if necessary, to criticize, so that they may mend their ways.

Ch. 1, v. 1: "El KOL Yisroel" - Why does this verse stress that Moshe spoke to ALL of Yisroel? Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz in Medrash Yonoson answers that the gemara Mo'eid Koton 21b says that Moshe began his words of the Book of Dvorim, Mishneh Torah, three days after the death of his brother Aharon. The gemara asks, "Since Moshe was still within he seven day mourning period for his brother, how was he allowed to learn/teach Torah?" The gemara answers that since the masses needed him for their Torah knowledge, it was permitted. This is why the verse points out that he spoke to ALL of Yisroel, to show that the masses needed him to teach them.

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Vo'atza'veh es shofteichem bo'eis ha'hee leimore" - The Sifri #16 says that even if a similar case has come in front of the judges numerous times, they should not be hasty to judge, but rather, they should investigate the details meticulously. Perhaps there are factors that could change the ruling that only come to light after in-depth investigation. How is this concept derived from these words?

1) "Bo'eis ha'hee leimore" is seemingly superfluous. These words teach that one should judge the case as if he has for the first time, "bo'eis ha'hee," heard the words of the two litigants. (Shach)

2) The word "vo'atza'veh" indicates being enthusiastic, as if this type of case has come to him for the very first time, as per the gemara Kidushin 29a, that the word "tzav" indicates eagerness and enthusiasm, both in the present and in the future. Similarly here, one should approach each case as a new one, not only when it is indeed new, but even a seemingly repetitive situation should be dealt with as if it were new. (Maskil l'Dovid) 3) The words "shomo'a bein acheichem" are seemingly superfluous. These words teach us that every time you hear the words of the litigants you should fulfill "ushfat'tem tzedek," meaning to deeply investigate their words, and not rely on the ruling you gave in a previous similar case. (N'tzi"v)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Bo'eis ha'hee" - What is being pointed out with the words "at that time?"

1) See Shach in previous offering.

2) Once you are appointed as a judge you may not back out of this responsibility to the public. (Maskil l'Dovid's commentary on Rashi)

3) Every judge in every generation, "bo'eis ha'hee," should be venerated as Moshe was. (Baal Haturim)

4) Only at that time, during the years before the coming of Moshiach, is "shomo'a bein acheichem" required. Once Moshiach will come, he will have the ability to judge through his sense of smell, ferreting out the truth by sense alone, as is stated in Yeshayohu 11:3, "V'hiricho b'yiras Hashem .. v'lo l'mishma oznov yochiach," - he will not need to judge by what he hears. (K'dushas Levi)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Leimore" - This word seems to be unnecessary. 1) This teaches us that once a judge has come to a conclusion he should not tarry, causing needless stress for the litigants. Instead, "bo'eis ha'hee," at that time and not later, he should SAY his verdict. (Kli Yokor) 2) The gemara Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 3:8 that if Rav Huna was in court, not presiding as a judge, and heard the claims of the litigants, and realized that there was a claim to the benefit of one of them, he would state it. This is the intention of "leimore." (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

3) The Rambam in hilchos Sanhedrin 21:9 says that when the judge has heard the claims of each litigant he should repeat the essence of each litigant to make sure that he grasped the intention of their claims. This is derived from M'lochim 1:3:23. This is the intention of "leimore shomo'a." The judge should say over what he heard. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Sho'mo'a" - Rashi says that this verb form is in the present tense and is similar to the words "zochor" (Shmos 20:8), AND "shomor" (Dvorim 5:12). Rashi says on the word "omore" (Bmidbar 6:23) that this is like "zochor shomor." On "rogome" (Bmidbar 15:38) he says that this is like "holoch" and like "zochor V'shomor." On "tzoror" (Bmidbar 25:17) he says that this is like "zochor shomor." On "loko'ach" (Dvorim 31:26) Rashi says that this is like "zochor shomor." On "v'nosone" (Yeshayohu 37:19) he says that this word is the same as we find in the verse "v'nosone oso al kol eretz Mitzroyim (Breishis 41:43), and is like "shomor zochor." On "kovode" (Nochum 2:10), he says that it is like "zochor v'shomor."

1) Why does Rashi sometimes mention "zochor V'shomor" and sometimes "zochor shomor" without the connecting letter Vov?

2) Why does he switch the order of these two words in Yeshayohu 37:19?

3) Why does he add that "rogome" is like "holoch" and not suffice with saying that it is like "zochor" and like "shomor" as he does everywhere else?

4) In Yeshayohu Rashi says that the word "v'nosone" is just the same as "v'nosone" in Breishis 41:43. If so, why doesn't Rashi state his comment on "v'nosone" that appears in Breishis, and not wait until Yeshayohu? Answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Shomo'a bein acheichem" - These words teach us that the judge may only listen to the words of one litigant if the other litigant is also present (gemara Sanhedrin 7b, Rambam hilchos Sanhedrin 21:7). These words also teach us that the judges must hear the claims directly from the litigants and not through an interpreter, as per the gemara Makos 6b. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh). As well, this teaches us that the judge should not only consider the responses given to his investigative questions, as the answers could easily be prepared by one who is coached and told the common queries a judge would ask in a case of this nature. Rather than only doing this, the judge should note the seemingly incidental nonchalant talk that takes place between the litigants, "shomo'a bein acheichem," as these words are very telling of the truth. "Shomo'a" should be understood as "perceive." There have been numerous cases recorded of clever judges who have come to the proper conclusion by carefully noting the table talk of the litigants. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

As well, this teaches us that the judge should rule by virtue of what he hears only, and not be swayed by what he sees. Sometimes one litigant is dressed in a most impressive manner and naturally brings in his wake a feeling of trust and respect. The second litigant might be dressed in a most shabby manner, and seem most unimpressive. This weakens the judge's respect and honour for him. Rabbi Moshe Berdugo, a most prominent judge, would lowers his eyes to the ground throughout the judicial proceedings so as not to be swayed by the appearances of the litigants. He stated that there were times when he had to lift his eyes during a judgement, and he noted that if his eyes were directed towards one of the litigants, that litigant would smile, while the other would frown. Having learned this lesson, he was very careful to avoid looking at either of them. Thus, "shomo'a bein acheichem," only listen to the words that pass between the two litigants, but do not use your eyes during the court proceedings.

Ch. 1, v. 17: "Kakoton kagodol tishmo'un" - Rashi (Sifri 17) says that this refers to treating the "godol," the wealthy man fairly. Do not say that this is the perfect opportunity to bring sorely needed funds into the hands of the poor man in a dignified manner, by judging in the favour of the poor man in this monetary disagreement. Rather, judge fairly, without taking such considerations into account. Another interpretation is to treat the poor man fairly. Do not say that it is most improper to have the wealthy man lose his case in public, especially if the amount of money in question is very little. One might want to judge in favour of the wealthy man to protect his honour, and after the court proceedings are complete, to approach the wealthy man and tell him that he really deserved to lose the case and he should pay the poor man. This is also prohibited. How does Rashi derive two insights, let alone opposite insights, into the words "kakoton kagodol?" Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura writes that Rashi derives this from the verse using the Kof of comparison twice, "Kakoton KAgodol." "KAkoton" teaches us that the wealthy man should be treated equal to the poor man in that he has an equal right to win the case. "KAgodol" teaches us that the poor man should be treated equal to the rich man, and if he is in the right, he deserves to win the case in court, and not publicly lose and be paid out of court privately. The Beis haLevi has a similar insight into the words "ki CHOmocho K'Faroh" (Breishis 44:18), saying that there is a comparison of Paroh to Yoseif and of Yoseif to Paroh.

However, upon looking into the words of Rashi on "KOchem KAgeir" (Bmidbar 15:15) it seems that the use of a Kof of comparison twice does not indicate a double comparison. Indeed, Rashi's first interpretation, that a judgement regarding a paltry sum should be treated with equal earnestness as one dealing with a hefty sum makes a one-way comparison only. An answer to this question would be appreciated.

Ch. 1, v. 17: "Lo Soguru Mipnei Ish" - The first letters of these words spell "l'emes." This teaches us that the goal of the judges is to bring out the truth in their judgement under all circumstances. (Nachal K'dumim)


There is a well-known gemara in Sotah 49b which relates that when the Romans beseiged the city of Jerusalem in the time of the second Beis Hamikdosh, the Jews ran out of numerous supplies. Included amongst these were the sheep required for the twice daily Korban Tomid. This was solved by the Jews lowering a basket of gold coins over the wall of the city, in return for which two sheep were sent back to them in the basket. Someone on the inside sent the Romans a message, that as long as bnei Yisroel had the merit of the daily Temidim, the enemy would be unable to conquer the city. The next day, instead of two sheep, a pig was put into the basket. The pig was being hoisted up in the basket, and before it reached half way up, it thrust its claws into the wall and the entire 400 by 400 parsoh length and breadth of Eretz Yisroel quaked. After this, the wall was breached, leading to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh itself.

Why didn't the enemy just leave the basket empty? They had already received payment. Why bother replacing the two sheep with anything?

The Medrash Vayikroh Rabboh Ch. 13 says that the four species of non-kosher animals which have only one sign of kashrus, split hooves or chewing its cud, rumenation, but lacks the second sign, correspond to the four exiles which the bnei Yisroel experienced. The pig corresponds to our present day exile, golus Edom. What is the symbolism in this comparison?

The GR"A of Vilna explains that the pig is unique, not only among these four species, but among all the animals in the world, in that it is the only one that has split hooves, but does not chew its cud. The other three species chew their cud, and their common sign of non-kashrus, non-split hooves, is visible externally. Not so the pig, which externally looks kosher, but internally is lacking the sign of chewing its cud.

With this the Vilna Gaon explains the gemara Yoma 9b. Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elozor both said that those living in the time of the first Beis Hamikdosh committed sins which were well-known. Just as their sins were well-known, so was the time of the completion of their exile known to them. Those living in the time of the second Beis Hamikdosh committed sins which were not obvious, so the time of completion of their exile would likewise remain unknown.

Reb Yochonan said that the fingernail of people living during the first Beis Hamikdosh is better than the stomach of those living in the second. The Vilna Goan explains this enigmatic statement of Reb Yochonan as follows: Those living during the first Beis Hamikdosh, who committed obvious sins, resemble the three species which have obvious external signs of non-kashrus. Those living during the second Beis Hamikdosh, committed the sin of sinas chinom, baseless hatred, which like all emotions, is hidden from the eye. Now we understand Reb Yochonan's symbolism of the finger and the stomach. The finger, the non-split hoof, is the overt sign of non-kashrus. The stomach, hidden within the animal which does not chew its cud, symbolizes hidden sins.

On the basis of the GR"A's explanation, we can answer the question we asked above. The Romans did not leave the basket empty, because that would have meant that the bnei Yisroel could not fulfill the mitzvah of bringing the Tomid sacrifice because of lack of access to sheep. Rather, they sent a pig which externally looks kosher. In their attempt to destroy Judaism, they offered a pig, indicating that the pig is also kosher. The Romans were aware that Judaism could be more greatly damaged by exercising a false, artificial Judaism, than by refraining from fulfilling a mitzvah through lack of ability to do so. This concept is embodied in the split hooves of the pig. When it was being pulled up the wall in a basket, it thrust its hooves into the wall of Jerusalem, breaching the city's sanctity. Specifically, its hooves symbolize false Judaism which sends a message to the people, "Accept me too as a Korban Tomid because I appear kosher." This falsification of Judaism was so devastating that it shook the sanctity of the length and breadth of the land.

It stands to reason that if our sages tell us that the pig is symbolic of the exile of Edom, it means that the characteristic of the pig is reflected in the nature of the exile's challenges. Indeed, our exile has undergone in the past, and continues to presently undergo, challenges represented by many "isms" which represent falsified, anti-Torah values, which seem to be packaged in a "kosher" setting.

May we merit to overcome these challenges and see the coming of Moshiach and the building of the Beis HaMikdosh speedily in our days! Amen!



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha

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