by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5771 BS"D
Ch. 17, v. 8: "Ki yipo'lei mimcho dovor l'mishpot bein dom l'dom bein din l'din u'vein nega lonega divrei rivos bisho'recho" - If the matter will be hidden from you between blood and blood between judgment and judgment between plague to plague matters of arguments in your gates - If it will be hidden from you the understanding of why Jewish blood flows so readily and idol worshippers' blood does not, between a judgment befalling bnei Yisroel in such a powerfully negative manner and relatively light judgments upon idol worshippers, between the wound inflicted upon the bnei Yisroel with such strength and that which is inflicted upon idol worshippers, which is limited, the answer is, "divrei rivos bisho'recho." Hashem responds powerfully when the bnei Yisroel do not live in peace one with another. (Rabbi Meir Shapiro Ra"m Chachmei Lublin)
Ch. 17, v. 9: "V'el hashofeit asher yi'h'yeh ba'yomim ho'heim" - And to the judge who will be present in those days - Isn't it obvious that one can only go to a judge who is present at that time? When one has a situation that requires Torah-true judgment he might refer to opinions of previous generation g'dolim. Although this seems to be the right way to proceed, our verse tells us to come to the present-day judge. What might have been appropriate and correct in a different era might not be the best choice at the present time and in the present society. (n.l.)
Ch. 17, v. 20: "L'vilti sur min hamitzvoh yomin usmole" - To not turn away from the precept right or left - "L'vilti sur" that one should not turn away "min hamitzvoh," from the word "mitzvoh," "yomin usmole" its right and left letters - then we would be left with the middle two letters Tzadi and Vov. The gemara Sanhedrin 56 says that the verse "Tzav latzov kav lakov" refers to idol worship. If one does not heed the guidance of our sages it is because he is haughty and thinks he know better. The gemara Sotoh 5 equates one who is haughty with an idol worshipper. (Chasam Sofer)
Perhaps we can add that although a person thinks that not following the guidance of our sages is not a terrible sin, the "tzav" = idol worship teaches us that step by step, "tzav latzov," it can lead him down a terrible spiral which can even end up with his ch"v worshipping idols. (n.l.)
Ch. 17, v. 20: "L'maan yaarich yomim al mamlachto hu uvonov" - So that he live long years on his kingship he and his sons - On a simple level we can say that he needs a special merit to live long because kings and the like are subject to assassinations. The Chizkuni says that he needs a special merit to live long because the gemara Psochim 87b says that "rabonus," leadership, buries the leaders. This is why the king was blessed with, "Y'chi ha'melech" (M'lochim 1:25) upon his coronation.
Ch. 18, v. 10: "Tomim ti'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecho" - Complete shall you be with Hashem your G-d - You shall be completely righteous not only in matters that are visible to your fellow man, but even in matters that are only "im Hashem Elokecho," with Hashem, i.e. in your thoughts, which only Hashem can discern. (Chid"o)
Ch. 18, v. 10: "Tomim ti'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecho" - Complete shall you be with Hashem your G-d - You shall be completely accepting and not have your heart split, accepting the good = Hashem, the Holy Name of mercy, readily, and complaining about what you consider the undeserved negative things that happen to you = Elokecho, the Holy Name of strict judgment. (Rabbi S.Z. Horowitz)
Ch. 20, v. 5,6,7: "Mi ho'ish asher bonoh va'yis chodosh v'lo chanocho, Umi ho'ish asher nota kerem v'lo chil'lo, Umi ho'ish asher eireis ishoh v'lo l'kochoh" - Who is the man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it, And who is the man who has planted a vineyard and has not deconsecrated it, And who is the man who has betrothed a woman and has not taken her - There are numerous mitzvos where a situation arises and a person has not completed the mitzvoh involved, such as purchasing a garment and not placing the required tzitzis on it, who has a firstborn son and has not redeemed him, etc. If so, why does the Torah choose specifically these situations for a deferment from army service?
In the admonishments of parshas Ki Sovo it says, "Ishoh t'o'reis v'ish achier yishkovenoh bayis sivneh v'lo seisheiv bo kerem tita v'lo s'chal'lenu," - A woman you will betroth and another man will consummate with her, a house you will build and you will not dwell in it a vineyard you will plant and you will not deconsecrate it." A person in one of these three special situations who might fall in battle would shatter the resolve of the rest of the army, as they might believe that the admonishments of parshas Ki Sovo have begun to take place. (Rabbi Moshe of Coucy)
Ch. 20, v. 8: "Mi ho'ish ha'yo'rei" - Who is the man who is afraid - The gemara Sotoh 49 cites Rabbi Yosi Haglili who interprets these words to mean that he fears that he has insufficient merit to enter the battle because of "a'vei'ros shebyodo," sins that are in his hand. This is a most unusual expression, as the gemara could have said "she'ovar a'veiros." The gemara Kidushim 49 says that a person who is known as an habitual sinner who betroths a woman with the stipulation that the marriage is only valid if he is at this moment a totally righteous person, we take this betrothal seriously and take into consideration that he might have mentally repented for all his sins. If so, why should a person who has sins automatically be deferred from joining the army? Why not have the pep-talk Kohein state that he who has sins should repent? This is why the gemara expresses itself with "a'vei'ros shebyodo." The intention of the gemara is that he has a sin or sins that are in his hand, i.e. he still has items that he stole or the like in his possession. Mental or even verbal repentance are insufficient to right this situation. (Ginzei Yoseif talmid of the Besh"t)
Ch. , v. 8: ""Mi ho'ish ha'yo'rei v'rach ha'leivov yeileich v'yoshuv l'veiso" - Who is the man who is afraid and feint of heart should go and should return to his home - If as mentioned in the previous offering he is truly afraid of his lack of merit because of his sins, this in itself is a form of contrition, so why shouldn't he go to do battle? The Sar Sholo-m of Belz answers that in the cantillation on the word "yeileich' we find a "tipcha," a sort of comma. We can thus interpret this phrase from our verse as, "if he indeed is afraid of his sins and has thus become contrite, then "yeileich," he should proceed to enter the battle. "V'yoshuv l'veiso," and Hashem guarantees him that he will survive and will return home.
Ch. 21, v. 1: "Lo noda mi hikohu" - It is not known who has killed him - During the French-Austrian war of 5569 two bnei Yisroel were incarcerated in Pressburg for the crime of supplying the enemy with armaments. If found guilty they would receive the death penalty. The Chasam Sofer turned to the head of the army, General Carl, and asked him to push off the punishment until after the war, when cool heads could prevail and a thorough investigation as to their alleged crime could be done. Carl retorted, "Daily literally hundreds of innocent soldiers are killed at the battle front and you are so worried about the lives of two likely-guilty people? The Chasam Sofer responded by citing our parsha of "egloh arufoh" which comes on the heels of parshios dealing with warfare as well as more parshios of warfare afterward. He said that this teaches us a profound lesson. Even when we are at war and there are many, many casualties, nevertheless, we may not lose sight of the importance of the life of even one human being. Here a person was found murdered on the road, and much investigatory efforts are to be invested before a guilty ruling may be passed. Thus we will be able to say, "Yo'deinu lo shofchu es hadom."
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