Points to Ponder

Shoftim 5775

You shall place judges and police in all your gates for each Shevet (16:18)  – Ramban points out that you need to establish judges and a judiciary from each and every Shevet. Why does each Shevet needs its own Dayanim? Why is it not better than judges who are NOT from the same group? The Chasam Sofer explains that each Shevet has its own means of connecting and its own gifts from Shomayim. Having leaders who share the Shefa will help inspire and judge the people into being their best.

You should not set up a monument (16:22) – But the Avos did? Yaakov Aveinu set up 2 – one for Rachel and one for Hashem? How did that which was desirable to Hashem in the past become so distasteful that it is Assur today? Rav Moshe Feinstein ztl. explains that in the days of the Avos prior to Matan Torah, one claimed Sachar on the actions of the past. At present, we have a responsibility not to rest on our laurels but instead grow until the end of his days.

You shall certainly appoint a king to rule you (17:15) – The Gemara (Sanhedrin 20b) debates whether it is a Mitzva or an opportunity to appoint a king. If it is a Mitzvah, why did Klal Yisrael wait until Shmuel’s time to make the appointment? Rav Schachter Shlita suggested that part of the mitzvah is that the people need to ask for it. Without the people’s asking, there is no need. The king needs to write his own Sefer Torah and carries extra Mitzvos because power corrupts and the Torah balances out the power differential.


He should not have too many horses and should not lead the people back to Egypt in order to have more horses  (17:16) - The reason given is that Hashem  does not want us to return on this path anymore.  What path is discussed? And why not “anymore” – when did the Jews go on the path? What about commerce with Egypt, is it forbidden? Rav Mordechai Greenberg Shlita explains that the Issur is to go on this path – the path whereby one becomes enslaved to the Egyptian culture of wealth and of seeking assistance in order to acquire an abundance of it. A Jew’s primary understanding when he sets life’s goals is to understand that money is not king.

You should be Tamim with Hashem(18:13) – What does walking Tamim mean? Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlop ztl. explained that it is the opposite to the other Mitzvos that appear in this section. The other prohibitions of the section speak about sorcery and witchcraft which center around man’s desire to know the future. Tamim Teheyeh speaks about living in the present. Some people savor moving on to the next issue and fail to savor the present – to appreciate the process that one goes through in order to attain the goal. That is the way that we connect to Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim is reported to have stated that in secular society, only results count but in Torah existence it is the Ameilus – the Toil that makes all of the difference.

This is the matter concerning the rotzeiach (murderer)(19:4)  – Why call one who kills inadvertently a Rotzeiach? Rav Lamm shlita explained that when a person acts B’vli Daas it means that he SHOULD HAVE thought about the ramifications of where he was and what could happen. Rabbi Lamm continued to explain that Ein Daas Ela Torah – that Torah is true Daas and that thoughtlessness and true Torah study and life are indeed incompatible.

And they shall respond and state our hands did not spill this blood (21:7) – Rav Nosson Tzvi Wachtfogel ztl. explained that the reason for everyone’s involvement is that the all of Am Yisrael are responsible for one another. When Achan sinned the Jewish people as a whole were put at risk. It then becomes the responsibility of the leadership to put an end to the loss of life. He compares it to the situation of a runaway train where it is the responsibility of the trainman to pull the emergency brake in order to save the lives of all those who are aboard the train.

Haftorah: I am, I am your comforter (Yeshayahu 51:12) – Why is there a need for the double repetition of the word Anochi in regard to displaying Hashem’s desire to comfort us? Yalkut Shimoni quotes a parable of a king who got angry at his wife and separated from her. When he wanted her to return, she insisted that she double the contract as a precondition for her return. Similarly, Hashem said Anochi on Har Sinai and in the future in Yirushalayim he will say Anochi twice. What does the second Anochi have to do with the issue? Rav Gideon Weitzman Shlita suggests that the comparison to Har Sinai speaks of the rendezvous with Hashem there – when the people got scared off.  Back then, there was an Anochi and in the future there will be a strengthened Anochi relationship that will be twice as strong and will stay off any fear that threatens the relationship.