by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5774 BS"DCh. 17, v. 13: "V'chol ho'om yish'm'u v'yiro'u v'lo y'zidun ode" - And all the nation shall hear and fear and they will not act presumptuously again - This verse tells us that when we put the rebellious scholar to death the whole nation will take heed and not act as he did. We find similar expressions by the murderer, eid zomeim, rebellious son, idol worshiper, false prophet, adulterer, and kidnapper. In each of those cases it is well understood why there has to be strong punishment not just for the sin but as a deterrent to the masses who might otherwise emulate the sin. Anyone can bring himself to murder, commit adultery, falsely testify, etc. Here however, it is most puzzling to warn the masses to not become a rebellious Torah scholar. Most people are not even close to the level of Torah scholarship to hold a candle to the scholars of the highest court, let alone adamantly refuse to bow to their decisions when he disagrees with them. If so, what need is there for a warning to "kol ho'om?"
It is obvious that for a scholar to hold his own opinion against others who disagree with him and have ruled otherwise, he is in need of psychological bolstering. Being an outstanding scholar he likely has groomed a solid following and possibly they are also Torah scholars. They heed his every word and he might have been right with everything he said until now. He then has the temerity to not yield to the appointed leaders and even after meeting and discussing the matter has gone on to act as per his ruling, or has still taught others to act according to his opinion. Without his flock of loyal adherents he would not have been so strong-headed to maintain his opinion. These followers are partners in crime with the rebellious scholars and are the ones who are to "hear and fear and not continue to do the bad again," i.e. their following him blindly. They must, with all due respect, not give him the confidence brought about by being his followers. They must tell him that they will follow the appointed body of law over him, and this in turn will stop him from carrying on. He will relent and not become a "zokein mamrei." (Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch in Taam Vodaas)
Ch. 17, v. 17: "V'lo yarbeh lo noshim" - And he shall not have an abundance of wives - The gemara Sanhedrin 21a says that at most he may have only eighteen wives. A Kohein Godol may not marry a widow. However, if before he was appointed Kohein Godol he married a widow, when he is appointed Kohein Godol he need not divorce her. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a raises this question: If a person had more than eighteen wives and then was appointed king, must he divorce the excess wives? Similarly, if he had an abundance of silver and gold beyond what is allowed for a king to own and then was appointed king, must he divest himself of some of his silver and gold? He has not resolved either of these isssues.
Ch. 17, v. 17: "V'lo yarbeh lo noshim …… v'chesef v'zohov lo yarbeh lo m'ode" - And he shall not have an abundance of wives …… and silver and gold he shall not have an abundance to the extreme - Why by the prohibition against having too many wives is the prohibition LO mentioned first and then the object NOSHIM and by not having too much silver and gold are the objects, silver and gold, mentioned before the LO?
This is a bit far-fetched, but based on the questions asked by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlit"a mentioned in the previous offering we might have an answer to this question and to his as well. Silver and gold are mentioned before the prohibition. This indicates that funds he had before he became king may be kept. The prohibition begins with further "yarbeh" only. By the abundance of wives the prohibition is stated immediately, including even those he had from before. There is logic to differentiating between the two. Note that the Torah does not spell out the ills of having too much money, while it does spell out the problem with too many wives. This would apply even with coming into kingship and already having more than eighteen wives.
Ch. 17, v. 20: "Ulvilti sur min hamitzvoh yomin usmole" - And to not deviate from the precept right or left - We find "yomin usmoel" just a few verses earlier (v. 11), by the command to implicitly follow the rulings of our Rabbis. There "usmole" has no letter Vov after the Alef while here it does. Perhaps it is present here by the king to allude to the first king in Eretz Yisroel, Sho'ul, to follow the edicts of the Prophet Shmuel. We all know the tragic outcome of his not following. "Smole" with a Vov has the same letters as Shmuel. (n.l.)
Ch. 18, v. 13: "Tomim ti'h'yeh im Hashem Elokecho" - You shall be complete with Hashem your G-d - On numerous occasions we have pointed out the difference between "im" and "es," in particular at length in parshas Bolok. "Es" means with in a loose manner, while "im" means with in an integrated, connected manner. You will be "complete," not lacking anything from the outside, from sources that are not Torah based, when you are totally united, "im," with Hashem. (n.l.)
Ch. 20, v. 19: "Lo sash'chis es eitzoh" - You shall not destroy its tree - The Rambam writes that needless destruction of any useful item is included in the sin of "bal tash'chis," but there are no lashes administered for this. This is most puzzling. If it is the intention of the Torah to include anything and not specifically trees, why are there no lashes? Haa'meik Dovor answers that the Torah overtly only states trees. The verse says to not cut down fruit trees in war even when needed for the war effort when there are other non-fruit bearing trees available. Destroying other things needlessly is understood by means of the logic of "kal vochomer." A sin that is learned by virtue of a "kal vochomer" caaries no courtly punishment, "Ein onshim min hadin."
Yeshayohu 52:7 - "Mah novu al hehorim raglei m'vaseir mashmia sholo-m m'vaseir tov mashmia y'shu'oh" - How beautiful are the feet of the heralder on the mountains announcer of peace heralder of good announcer of salvation - These words refer to Eliyohu the Prophet who will herald in the end of days. Eliyohu is to bring peace to the world and there will be no further yoke of the gentile nations upon us. He will also clarify the questions and doubts that we have in understanding the Torah, "Tishbi y'sa'reitz kushyos vaabayos." He will also herald in the coming of Moshiach by announcing this one day before he comes, "Hinei onochi sholei'ach lochem es Eliyoh hanovi lifnei bo yom Hashem hagodol v'hanora." These three announcements are detailed in our verse. "Mashmia sholo-m" refers to peace among the nations. "M'vaseir tov" refers to clarifying Torah matters, as "tov" means the Torah, "Ki lekach TOV nosati lochem Torosi ……" Finally, he will herald in the coming of Melech haMoshiach, "Mashmia y'shuoh," bb"o. (Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a)
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