by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5768 BS"D
Ch. 17, v. 12: "L'vilti shmo'a el haKohein …… o el hashofeit" - To not comply with the Kohein or the judge - Our verse does not say that the scholar does not comply with the prophet because halachic decisions are not his domain. This is because a prophet has no guarantee that he will receive a response from Hashem, and even if he will, the prophet must first make spiritual preparations to receive the prophecy. Often there is a matter that is very time sensitive and cannot wait. Also, if halachic matters would be transmitted through prophets it would bring in its wake a great diminishing of in-depth Torah study by the masses. (Minchoh V'luloh)
Another explanation might be that even though becoming a prophet involves great effort in the field of the spiritual, as outlined by Rabbi Pinchos ben Yo'ir, that study of Torah brings to ……, level after level of spiritual growth, culminating in attaining prophecy, nevertheless, halachic prowess and authority come through "hitting the holy books of halacha." (Nirreh li)
Ch. 17, v. 13: "V'chol Yisroel yish'm'u" - And all of Yisroel shall hear - Rashi (Sifri) explains that the rebelling Torah scholar is not killed following, i.e. the next day, of his verdict of guilty, but rather, he is held until the following Yom Tov and is killed. The gemara Sanhedrin 89a says that four people who receive capital punishment also have this publicized. They are the rebellious scholar, "eidim zom'mim" witnesses, the rebellious son, and an attempted proselytizer. Here Rashi says that his death penalty waits for the mass assemblage on Yom Tov, while by "eidim zom'mim" and the rebellious son he says that the punishment is publicized. The Rambam says the same as Rashi (mamrim 3:8, 7:13, eidus 18:7). It is well understood why "ben soreir" and "eidim zom'mim" are not delayed until Yom Tov. This is because they are dealt with in the local courts, where there are no masses to observe. (As well, if we were to wait for Yom Tov and then administer their capital punishment, there would be even less people present, as most have made the pilgrimage to Yerusholayim.) (Maskil l'Dovid)
What remains to be explained is why by the proselytizer Rashi makes no comment, and neither does the Rambam. Perhaps this can be answered based on the gemara Sanhedrin 43a. The gemara relates that beginning forty days before yeishu was administered his punishment it was announced that he was being punished for attempting to bring bnei Yisroel to believe in a false religion. The gemara says that such great publicizing was not required, but because he had close connections to the Romans, who had their fangs on the inhabitants of Eretz Yisroel, it was necessary to "over publicize" this, so that even the Romans would understand that his punishment was very justified.
It could very well be that Rashi and the Rambam did not want to elaborate on the unusual activities that take place with a proselytizer so as to avoid arousing the ire of the powers that were present at the time.
Ch. 17, v. 14: "Ki sovo" - When you will come - The mathematical value of these words is the same as "bimei Shmuel." (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 17, v. 14: "Ki sovo el ho'oretz …… v'omarto osimoh olai melech" - When you will come into the land ……. and you will say I will place a king upon me - The juxtaposition of this verse to the previous ones, dealing with destroying avodoh zoroh, is that the king has a special responsibility to eradicate avodoh zoroh. (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 17, v. 14: "Virishto v'yoshavto boh v'omarto osimoh olai melech" - And you will inherit and inhabit it and you will say I will place a king upon me - The Torah predicates that the land must first be in our hands and settled before a king be appointed. This is to make it crystal clear that the vanquishing of the land was done by Hashem. If a king would be appointed earlier, he would obviously be the head of the army, and people might incorrectly attribute the success of the military campaign to their king. (Minchoh V'luloh)
Ch. 17, v. 15: "Some tosim" - Place you shall place - The double expression teaches us that once the nation functions with a king, upon his demise or removal, the nation may no longer be kingless. They must immediately appoint another king. (Sifri as understood by Eimek haN'tzi"v)
Alternatively, this teaches us that the nation must appoint the king every time, and a king who is leaving his post has no power to appoint his replacement. (Sifri as understood by the Meshech Chochmoh)
Perhaps another explanation can be offered. When a king dies his son is first in line to replace him, provided that he is up to the task. One might think that a son takes on the position with no induction rites, i.e. being anointed, etc. The Sifri tells us that even if he gets his position as an "inheritance" he must nevertheless be appointed and go through the induction rituals. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 17, v. 15: "Mi'kerev achecho" - From within your brothers - The mathematical value of these words is the same as "misheivet Yehudoh." (Baal Haturim)
Ch. 17, v. 19: "V'koro vo kol y'mei chayov" - And he shall read from it all the days of his life - The Sifri says, "y'mei chayov" refers to the days, and "kol" adds even at night. Why don't we have an opinion that "kol" includes "y'mos haMoshiach" just as we have this explanation of "l'maan tizkor es yom tzeis'cho mei'eretz Mitrayim KOL y'mei chayecho?" Perhaps it is because when Melech haMoshiach will come, this person will no longer be the king. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 19, v. 4: "Asher yonus shomoh vochoy" - Who will seek refuge there and will live - The beginning of this verse relates that we are discussing a murderer. Then these words are stated, and then the verse goes on to explain the details, that the killing was accidental, etc. Why aren't all the details of the murder a continuum, and his seeking refuge placed at the end?
Ch. 20, v. 7: "Umi ho'ish asher nota kerem v'lo chalolo" - And who is the man the man who has planted a vineyard and has not liberated it - This is Rashi's translation, meaning he has not yet brought "neta r'vai." However, the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban explain that it was the custom on the fourth year since the original planting to dance in the rows between the grapevines accompanied by the playing of flutes, "chalilim." In essence these two explanations boil down to the same thing, that the exemption is for one who has not brought "neta r'vai," just the actual translation is either flutes or made it chulin.
Ch. 20, v. 7: "Asher eireis ishoh" - Who has betrothed a woman - Another deferment is for one who has taken a wife but not has yet had "nisu'in." The gemara Sotah 43b says that if one betroths a woman who is prohibited to him, he has no deferment. The mishnoh there also mentions that if one takes back his divorced wife he is not deferred. Rashi explains that she is not an "ishoh chadosoh lo," not new to him. This requires clarification, as the verse does not make such a stipulation. This is understood by saying that in verse 24 we find the term "ishoh chadoshoh," and we apply this to our verse as well. However, the Sifri has another understanding of "machazir grushoso." It says that we derive from the verse that the deferment is only for a wife who is appropriate for him, i.e. permitted. The Sifri goes on to say that included in this ruling is a widow for a Kohein Godol and "machazir grushoso." It is obvious that the Sifri explains "hamachazir grushoso" as a woman who was divorced, then was married to another person who either died or divorced her. She is no longer permitted to her first husband. There is even an opinion that the proper text in the Sifri is "prat l'machazir grushoso mishenisis."
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