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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 13: "Unvonim" - And understanding - Although Moshe said that men who have this attribute (among others) should be chosen as judges, it is not mentioned in verse 15, where their appointment was actualized. A "novone" is a person who takes information and builds from it, sourced from the word "boneh." This is why people with this attribute were not found. Although they abounded they were not ready to take the position. They saw how Moshe on his own as judge was harassed, etc., so they were not ready to suffer the same fate. Because of their attribute of "n'vonim" they didn't accept the position. (Chavos Yoir)

This reminds me a bit of an incident that happened to me many years ago. I received an unsolicited letter from an organization called "mensa club." They wrote that this was a club of people with high intelligence. In what I imagine was a mass mailing I received a mathematic puzzle to answer. I figured it out and sent back the answer in a self addressed prepaid envelope. They responded that I got it right and had the "privilege" to join their club. HOWEVER, there was a $35 membership fee. Needless to say, I did not join up. I did send them back the return envelope with a note that more or less read: You wrote me that I am bright enough to join your elite club for very bright people. If I were to submit $35 to join your club it would disqualify me for being so foolish as to waste my money on a membership card that is of no value. Again needless to say, I got no response.

Ch. 1, v. 13: "Viduim" - And known - This is the common translation, but the Sma"g translates it as "and beloved," as in "Ki y'dativ."

Ch. 1, v. 15: "Vo'ekach es roshei shivteichem" - And I took the heads of your tribes - Moshe's choosing the judges seems inconsistent with what he said two verses back, "Hovu LOCHEM anoshim," that they should choose their judges. However, in verse 14 it says that their response was, "Tov hadovor asher dibarto laasose." Moshe took notice of their extreme satisfaction with his allowing them to choose their own judges. He then realized that there was a fear that they would choose judges whom they could influence, so he rescinded the offer and he himself chose the judges. (Ksav Sofer)

Ch. 1, v. 16: "Shomoa bein acheichem ushfat'tem tzedek" - Listening to claims between your brothers and judge righteously - If a judge has an intimidating demeanour, then he will likely clam up some claims a disputant has and the correct judgment might likely not be reached. However, with a pleasant manner, "bein acheichem," albeit business like, disputants more readily open up and explain their position more clearly, allowing for a proper outcome.

Alternatively, as is told of kings and judges of yore, that they dressed in paupers' clothing and mingled with the common folk and heard what "brothers spoke between themselves" with their guard down, the judge was able to ferret out the truth. (M'leches Mach'sheves)

Ch. 1, v. 31: "Asher n'so'acho Hashem kaasher yisa ish es b'no" - Who has carried you as a man will carry his son - You have sinned numerous times in the desert. A king cannot forgo his honour, but a father may. Since Hashem has "forgiven" you, as in "nosei ovone," He is dealing with you in a father son relationship, and has acted as a father who forgives his son. (Nachal K'dumim)

Ch. 2, v. 6: "Ochel tish'b'ru mei'itom ba'kesef v'gam mayim tichru mei'itom ba'kesef" - Food you shall purchase form them with silver and also water shall you purchase from them with silver - Why by food is "tish'b'ru" used and by water "tichru?"

Ch. 2, v. 7: "Ki Hashem Elokecho beirach'cho b'chole maa'sei yodecho" - Because Hashem your G-d has blessed you in all the toil of your hand - This blessing stresses the "toil of your hand" because until now the bnei Yisroel received sustenance gratis in the form of manna and wellspring water through the "b'eir Miriam." When they were to enter the countries of Sichon and Og they should not assume that they may also take food and water gratis. They have to pay for it as is mentioned in the previous verse. (Yalkut Yehudoh)

Ch. 2, v. 25: "Ha'yom ha'zeh ocheil teis pach'd'cho v'yiros'cho asher yish'm'un shimacho" - This day I will begin to place the dread and fear of you who will hear the report of you - In a number of places we have discussed the addition of a final Nun to a word which seemingly does not need it. Here we have "yish'm'uN." The additional letter Nun is explained by the Rada"k in his Sefer Hashoroshim entry "ish" as meaning diminutive. We can thus say here that the extreme fear and resultant trembling will grip even those who have heard but a small bit of what has taken place in the field of battle against the bnei Yisroel. (n.l.)

Ch. 2, v. 26: "Vo'eshlach el Sichon divrei sholo-m" - And I sent to Sichon words of peace - Moshe knew that they would not accept his offer of remaining in the land and abiding by the seven Noachide laws. However, as a peace gesture he offered anyhow, learning from Hashem's similar behaviour. Why wasn't the same offer made to Og? Once Og witnessed that Sichon was destroyed by Moshe even if he were to accept the responsibility to keep the seven Noachide mitzvos it would be patently insincere, as his acceptance would only be motivated by saving his own skin. This gives us an understanding of what the gemara Yerushalmi Shviis chapter #7 says: Before Yehoshua entered the land he sent a message to all the inhabitants. Any group that is willing to accept subordination to the bnei Yisroel and abide by the seven Noachide mitzvos should notify us before we enter the land. Once we enter the land it will be too late.

The timing factor in his offer is based on the same reasoning. Once the bnei Yisroel would enter and begin decimating the occupants, those who remain and then want to accept the laws and subservience would be insincere, since they have witnessed the military prowess of the bnei Yisroel. They would be agreeable only because they want to save themselves. (Yalkut Yehudoh)

Ch. 2, v. 27: "Ba'derech ba'derech eileich" - On the path on the path will I walk - Why the repetition of "ba'derech?" When a very large group of people walks on a main road, there is a fear of some of them veering off and damaging abutting fields and damaging produce. To allay this fear the message was sent that they would stay "ba'derech." When they are passing very near cities it is preferable to have them leave the main road and bring in tourism dollars, by paying for lodging and buying food. To this they added on a second "ba'derech," to indicate that even then they would stay on the road. However, they requested that "Ochel ba'kesef tish'b'reini." (Luach Erez)

Ch. 3, v. 14: "Vayikra osom al shmo es haBoshon Chavos Yoir ad ha'yom ha'zeh" - And he gave them the Boshon an appellation on his name Chavos Yoir to this very day - The needs for our verse to tell us that the name lasted until the present is because we have an instance where someone else called an area on his name, Novach (Bmidbar 32:42), and it did not last. Here the name lasted. (Rabbi Shimshon ben R'foel Hirsch)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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