by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS SHOFTIM 5775 BS"D
Ch. 16, v. 19: "Ki hashochad y'aver einei chachomim" - The Chofetz Chaim writes that if a person who is lacking intelligence were to label his friend a wise man, it would not be conclusive that the person iss really wise. If the Gaon Reb Akiva Eiger, however, would call him wise, and surely if the wisest of all men, King Solomon, would call him wise, we could rest assured that the one who received that appellation is indeed wise. When Hashem gives people the title of "chachomim," this is the greatest assurance possible that we are speaking about outstandingly wise people. We see that the smallest amount of bribery blinds even the most brilliant of men, be it financial or a bias.
Reb Yehuda asks in the gemara Sanhedrin 21b, "Why weren't the reasons behind the Torah's mitzvos stated clearly?" He answers that there are two places where the Torah gives us the reason for the mitzvoh, and the greatest man of the generation stumbled in them. The Torah tells us in our parsha, 17:17, "He (the king) shall not take many wives, lest he turn his heart away." King Solomon took many wives and erred. The Baal Sho'el U'meishiv (Rabbi Y.S. Nathanson) asks, "According to the above gemara, why in our verse is an explanation for the mitzvoh offered?" He answers that since the Torah testifies that even a chochom will become blinded, there is no way for anyone to think that he is above being influenced by a bribe.
In a similar vein, the gemara in Shabbos 12b brings a breisa which says that one should not read by the light of a lamp on Shabbos, lest he come to adjust the wick. Rebbi Yishmoel ben Elisha said, "I will read and be careful not to adjust the wick." One time he read and adjusted the wick. He said, "How great are the words of our sages, who said, "One should not read by the light of a lamp." The GR"A of Vilna explains that Reb Yishmael was not referring to the words of the above-mentioned breisa, but specifically to the words of the Mishna 10a, which states, "One should not read by the light of a lamp," and does not add on the words of the breisa, "lest he adjust etc." Reb Yishmoel was saying that had the breisa not given a reason, he would have been prevented from desecrating the Shabbos. How great are the words of our sages of the Mishna, who gave the ruling without adding the reason.
Ch. 16, v. 20: "Tzedek tzedek tirdof l'maan tich'yeh v'yorashto es ho'oretz" - The Chid"o, in his monumental work Nachal K'dumim, cites the gemara Rosh Hashana 4a and P'sochim 8a that says that one who says that this coin is for charity so that the merit of this mitzvoh should keep his son alive, or that the merit should bring him to Olam Habo, is considered a complete tzaddik, in spite of having his own agenda. The Tosfos ask from a Mishna in Pirkei Avos 1:3 "Don't be as servants who serve their master for compensation, etc." If so, how can he be considered a complete tzaddik?
The Chid"o differentiates between one who has not yet given a sufficient amount of charity to fulfill his responsibility of tzedokoh, and one who has already given sufficiently, but is giving even more. If one hasn't given his full quota, and has his own needs in mind, indeed he is not a complete tzaddik, as per the previously mentioned Mishna. If, however, one has fulfilled his tzedokoh obligations and is giving extra, then the personal gains he envisions through the merit of giving tzedokoh do not detract from his righteousness, and the Mishna does not apply.
This, he points out, is alluded to in our verse. Tzedek tzedek, if you've given tzedokoh beyond the basic requirement of tzedoko, then, tirdof, you may do so, even if you pursue (your personal benefit of), l'maan tich'ye, so that your son may live, or for the purpose of, v'yorashto es ho'oretz, so that you may inherit the permanent land (Olam Habo). This would also explain why the gemara specifically gives these two examples.
Ch. 17, v. 8: "Bein dom l'dom bein din l'din" - Rashi says between blood that is impure and blood that is pure, and between one who is meritorious and one who is culpable. Why has Rashi switched the order? By blood he mentions the negative first and by money matters he mentions the positive, meritorious, first. The Holy Admor of Skulen z"l answers that since the verse is discussing "ki yipollei," when something is hidden, in doubt, then it follows that when there is a doubt, a sofek, in matters of purity, we mention the strict possibility first, because "sofek issur l'chumra," but regarding the second subject, which is money matters, we are lenient for the one who has possession because of the dictum "sofek m'mona l'kula," so the possibility of being meritorious is mentioned first.
Ch. 18, v. 2: "V'nachaloh Lo Yi'h'yeh Lo B'kerev Echov" - The Rashbam in his commentary on the gemara Bovo Basra 122a d"h "v'ode tanya" says that in the world to come the L'viim will have a share in the fsland of Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman asked the Gerrer Rebbe, the Baal Imrei Emes, "How can this be? Our verse clearly states that a portion shall not be given to the Levi amongst his brethren, meaning in Eretz Yisroel. We have a tenet of our faith that the Torah will NEVER change." The Imrei Emes answered that the medrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Yishayahu s. #550) says that in the world to come the sanctity of the Bais Hamikdosh will spread to all of Jerusalem, and the sanctity of Jerusalem will spread to the whole of Eretz Yisroel, and the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel will spread to the whole world. The areas beyond the original Eretz Yisroel are not to be considered "b'kerev echov," among his brethren, and yet the L'viim will receive a portion in E.Y.
With this concept the Imrei Emes told Rabbi Wasserman that a question raised on a Tosfos in gemara Brochos 20b can be answered. The Tosfos in d"h "noshim" raise a concern as to whether women's birkas hamozon is a d'Oreisa fulfillment, since the words "u'veirachto al ho'oretz hatovah asher nossan loch" does not apply to women. The commentaries ask that Tosfos should have raised this concern regarding L'viim as well. But according to the aforementioned answer, there was no doubt as to the L'viim's birkas hamozon, since they will eventually receive a portion in the land that has the sanctity of Eretz Yisroel.
Another answer to the original and second questions, along a similar line, might be that since bnei Yisroel received only the land of the seven nations as their inheritance of Eretz Yisroel, and in the world to come Eretz Yisroel will expand through the bnei Yisroel inheriting the land of the three nations, Keini, Knizi, and Kadmoni, they will receive a portion in Eretz Yisroel, but not "b'kerev echov." See Rashi on our verse who mentions a Sifri which is clearly contrary to this opinion. Another possibility might be that since the Torah gives a reason for the L'viim not getting an inheritance in the land in D'vorim 10:8-9, also see Rashi on v. 9, since in the future world the reasoning might not apply, they have a right to a portion.
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