Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Shoftim 5781
1 – Topic – A Thought on Yerushalayim
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Shoftim our first Shabbos in the month of Elul and we hope it will be a productive Elul as we prepare for Rosh Hashana. On Monday, Rosh Chodesh, I returned from Eretz Yisrael here to Chutz L’aretz and I had a thought. Here I am landing at 4 AM and Davening Shacharis shortly thereafter and saying Yaaleh V’yavo. In Yaaleh V’yavo we mention many Zichronos. Reasons that Yaaleh V’yavo (יַעֲלֶה וְיָבֹא וְיַגִּֽיעַ וְיֵרָאֶה וְיֵרָצֶה וְיִשָּׁמַע וְיִפָּקֵד וְיִזָּכֵר זִכְרוֹנֵֽנוּ) and then we mention (וְזִכְרוֹן אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ. וְזִכְרוֹן מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד) and of course (וְזִכְרוֹן יְרוּשָׁלַֽיִם עִיר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ). It struck me that we seem to refer constantly to Yerushalayim and not necessarily to Eretz Yisrael with the exception of the Mussaf Tefillah which seems to mention Eretz Yisrael in general. Otherwise in Davening we talk about (וְלִירוּשָׁלַֽיִם עִירְ֒ךָ בְּרַחֲמִים תָּשׁוּב). We talk always about a return to Yerushalayim. (וּבְנֵה יְרוּשָׁלַיִם עִיר הַקּדֶשׁ). Now actually we could have said Zichroneinu V’zichron Eretz Yisrael and the Zichron Yerushalayim Ir Kodshecha is also important but it would seem to be only a small piece of Eretz Yisrael. Having just returned from Yerushalayim this struck me.
In Ezra at the beginning of Perek Beis, we find the Jewish people of that generation returning to the land of Israel after the Galus of Churban Bayis Rishon. In the first group that returned, they return there in the second Perek of Ezra and the Posuk says the following words. (וַיָּשׁוּבוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם וִיהוּדָה, אִישׁ לְעִירוֹ). They returned to Yerushalayim and Yehuda each man to his city. Of course they had different cities that were their Cheilek of Eretz Yisrael. They remembered. The Churban happened 52 years earlier and they knew where they were headed. So it says (וַיָּשׁוּבוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם וִיהוּדָה).
The Metzudos Dovid Teitches as if it said (וַיָּשׁוּבוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם וִלִיהוּדָה). They returned to Yerushalayim and to Yehuda. Although it doesn’t say that. It says (וַיָּשׁוּבוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם וִיהוּדָה). They returned to Yerushalayim and Yehuda. It doesn’t say (וִלִיהוּדָה).
The Malbim explains as follows. The Malbim explains that all Jews that returned to Eretz Yisrael after the Galus of the Churban Bayis Rishon did so by first going to Yerushalayim the Makom of Kedusha and from there traveling on to whichever city was their city that they belonged in. (וַיָּשׁוּבוּ לִירוּשָׁלִַם) everybody returned to Yerushalayim and from there they returned to the cities that were their place where they would live. But everybody understood that when you come to Eretz Yisrael the first place to come, the gateway to Eretz Yisrael was to go to Yerushalayim and absorb Kedushas Yerushalayim, the source of all types of Kedusha.
This reminded me of something that I had seen in the Sichos of Rav Shlomo Hoffman, a wonderful Sefer. Somewhere near the beginning of the Sefer he describes as a young man in Elul of 1945 the return of Rav Dessler to Eretz Yisrael. Rav Dessler was in England during the Holocaust and his family was in Eretz Yisrael. They were separated by the war and he returned in Elul 1945.
He came to speak in one of the Shuls of Tel Aviv when his boat docked near Tel Aviv and that is where he spoke. When he spoke he said the following words. He said normally if a person goes to a foreign land, a foreign city, the first thing he does is to make sure he has a place to sleep, food to eat and something to drink, that is his first order of business. He says when you return to Eretz Yisrael and you go to Eretz Yisrael that is not so. The first order of business is to find a place to learn, to sit and learn. He says that is why when Klal Yisrael crossed the Yardein their first job was to set up stones upon which the Torah was etched in numerous languages. To teach us that when a person goes to Eretz Yisrael the Ikkur is to come to a place of Kedusha.
That fits with the Malbim. The Malbim says that the first thing a Yid does when he goes to Eretz Yisrael before he goes he has the city of his forefathers, he is going to find his home. The first place you go is to Yerushalayim, a place to absorb Kedusha. This is a lesson for our time.
Now that to a great degree access to Eretz Yisrael is limited to us in our pain, we must realize that when we go there that the first place to go is to go to a place where a person can absorb Kedusha. The first place to go from the airplane is to the Kosel, is to a Bais Medrash. You deposit your suitcases wherever they go, you don’t unpack, you don’t do anything, you go straight to the Bais Hamedrash, you go straight to a place where you Daven, a place where you learn. That is the lesson of going to Yerushalayim.
Therefore, (וְזִכְרוֹן אֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ. וְזִכְרוֹן מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד עַבְדֶּֽךָ. וְזִכְרוֹן יְרוּשָׁלַֽיִם עִיר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ). It doesn’t matter if you are from Sheivet Yehuda or one of the other Shevatim. The first place you go is to Yerushalayim to absorb Kedusha and from there you move on.
I hope that we should be Zoche to get back to Eretz Yisrael of course B’biyas Go’el but even before Biyas Go’el we should be Zoche to be there and absorb its Kedusha.
2 – Topic – A Thought on the Parsha.
Parshas Shoftim has many lessons that are important for Tanach and I would like to mention one or two of them time permitting. In our Parsha we have the Parsha of the Nevi’a Sheker. In 18:20 (הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר יָזִיד לְדַבֵּר דָּבָר בִּשְׁמִי). The Navi that speaks falsely in my name is Chayuv Misah. Of course the Navi, there are numerous incidents of Nevi’a Sheker. Not just a kook getting up on the corner on a chair and announcing that he has messianic views or prophetic vision. But people to who it really affected the history of Klal Yisrael.
We find by Tzidkiyahu the last king of Klal Yisrael, that there were Nevi’a Sheker competing with Yirmiya. Nevi’a Sheker all over the place. It is very important to know a Yesod regarding Nevi’a Sheker it is not just an Aggadata Yesod it is a Halacha Yesod.
The Minchas Chinuch brings in Mitzvah Taf Kuf Yud Zayin in Os Ches that a Navi Sheker is not a kook. A Navi Sheker is a good person, a Talmid Chochom. It would be possible for him to be a Navi. But Stam an ordinary fellow who says that he had a vision, it is Narishket, it is silliness. A Navi means somebody who has a certain level of Kedusha, a certain level of Zehirus in Mitzvos, he is a Talmid Chochom. This idea is a concept brought in numerous places.
The Michtav Eliyahu in Cheilek Daled on page 289 explains how does it happen that someone who is Rau’i to be a Navi becomes a Navi Sheker? Why would someone do that? Somebody who is a Talmid Chochom and is Zahir B’mitzvos. The Michtav Eliyahu explains it is when people are caught up in their silliness. They want something so badly that they fool themselves into thinking that it is Nevua. The lack of intellectual honesty. People want something so badly they convince themselves of these types of things. It is a dangerous thing. We have to serve HKB”H the way He taught us to serve Him. Not the way our heart tells us to serve HKB”H.
That idea, that concept, is an important concept not only by Nevi’a Sheker but in serving HKB”H in general. We have to be sure that we don’t come up with our own dreams, our own Chalomos of this or that being Ratzon Hashem, without a source. Just because we heard a story in a story book or because we heard a cute Gematriya that doesn’t make a person know how to behave. It has to be clearly a behavior that is Ratzon Hashem.
Rav Hutner in the Pachad Yitzchok on Pesach says this Yesod as well and I believe that it is in Maimar Pei Bais. With this he answers a Ramban’s Kasha. Listen to this. The Yesod of (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹרים אֶתְכֶם) that is found in Parshas Vayechi in 50:24. Klal Yisrael was told that the Navi who comes with the language of (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד אֱלֹרים אֶתְכֶם) a language of Pekida he is the redeemer. Freigt the Ramban it is very interesting. It is nice to have a Siman to know who is the real Go’el. But if you are going to advertise the Siman ahead of time, that the Go’el who comes with the Lashon of (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד) is the true Go’el what does it help? You want to know if he is fake or not see if he says (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד). Well you told him say (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד) is the trick so what does it help, what kind of Siman is that?
Answers the Pachad Yitzchok beautifully. He says that a kook who comes and says he is a Go’el won’t fool anybody. Sometimes there are people who are indeed Talmidai Chachamim, they are Mazir people B’teshuva, they do Mitzvos, they teach and they fool themselves into thinking that they are the Moshiach. They fool themselves into thinking that they are the Go’el. So HKB”H promised Klal Yisrael that the Ruach Sheker that will come in people’s minds won’t be with (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד). It won’t be with that language. It will be in a different way. Mimeila, we are not talking about people who are conniving to be a Navi Sheker, we are talking about people who fool themselves. So HKB”H promised that the language of (פָּקֹד יִפְקֹד) won’t be that Lashon. But again the Yesod is important that the Nevi’a Sheker in Tanach are just that they are Nevi’a Sheker who are good people that fool themselves. An important Yesod for Navi.
3 – Topic – A Netziv on the beginning of the Parsha.
One other quick Yesod is a beautiful Netziv in the beginning of Parshas Shoftim. The end of Parshas Re’eh 16:17 (אִישׁ, כְּמַתְּנַת יָדוֹ, כְּבִרְכַּת יְרוָר אֱלֹריךָ, אֲשֶׁר נָתַן-לָךְ) ends with Bracha. The beginning of Parshas Shoftim is 16:18 (שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים, תִּתֶּן-לְךָ). Says the Hameik Davar, the Netziv says beautifully (דברכה מצויה בזמן שמכבדין את הדיינים). In a society in which people show respect to Dayanim, show respect to the rule of the land, show respect to integrity of financial dealings, such a society has Bracha. A society in which it is the Wild West that people do what they want. They cheat others, the convince themselves that they are allowed to take this money without a clear Psak that it is Muttar. They go and think that they could apply for government benefits to which they are not entitled and they have no source for being allowed to take it. They go and they take money of others or cheat others and they are Melamed Heter on themselves. Such a society is not Bracha Metzuya, doesn’t have a Bracha found there. So therefore, (שֹׁפְטִים וְשֹׁטְרִים, תִּתֶּן-לְךָ) is right next to the Bracha of (אִישׁ, כְּמַתְּנַת יָדוֹ, כְּבִרְכַּת יְרוָר אֱלֹריךָ). And he refers back to Parshas Mishpatim ( אֱלֹרים, לֹא תְקַלֵּל; וְנָשִׂיא בְעַמְּךָ, לֹא תָאֹר) to show respect for a Nasi, for a Beis Din is right next to the Posuk of (מְלֵאָתְךָ וְדִמְעֲךָ, לֹא תְאַחֵר). (מְלֵאָתְךָ) means your good crop, your crop that is full.
A third source. The Netziv says (וַיְהִי, בִּימֵי שְׁפֹט הַשֹּׁפְטִים, וַיְהִי רָעָב, בָּאָרֶץ). Rus begins in the days that the judges judged, there was a hunger. Says Rashi, Dor Sheshoftim Es Shoftov. It was a generation that didn’t show respect for the Dayanim. They second guessed their Dayanim. Such a place, (וַיְהִי רָעָב, בָּאָרֶץ) there was a hunger in the land. The point again being that in order to have a society that has Birchas Hashem there must be a society that shows respect for the rule of Bais Din.
With this it explains why in Navi there was a great king Yoshiahu Hamelech – Vayikonein Yirmiyahu Al Yoshiahu when we talk about him in Kinnos. He was a great king. He became king at the age of 8. The first thing he did before getting Klal Yisrael to get rid of Avoda Zorah the first thing he did was to straighten out the Batei Dinim, straighten out the places of judgement that there should be Bracha by Klal Yisrael. There has to be integrity and honesty in financial dealings.
We should be Zoche to have that integrity and honesty and IY”H it will bring Bracha and Hatzlacha to all of us. May it be a Gebentched Elul, a Gebentched Elul where we have an Aliyah IY”H. A Gutten Shabbos to one and all!