Pearls of Rashi: Rosh Hashanah II

Click here for a printable PDF.

In honor of Rosh Hashanah, this Shabbos we will read of Hashem’s command to Avrohom to offer his precious son Yitzchok as a sacrifice.

Hashem told Avrohom[1], “Please take your son, your only one, whom you love, Yitzchok, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will tell you.” At the last moment he is told, “Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him. For now, I know that you are a G-d fearing man, as you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”

Rashi cites the words “for now I know,” and says the following. “Said Rabbi Abba, Avrohom said to Him, ‘I will explain my discussion before You. Yesterday, You said to me[2] ‘for in Yitzchok will be called your seed.’ You seemingly retracted these words and said[3], ‘Take now your son.’ Now You say to me, ‘Do not stretch forth your hand to the lad.’ The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “’I shall not profane My covenant, neither shall I change the utterance of My lips.” When I said to you, ‘Take,’ I was not altering the utterance of My lips. I did not say to you, ‘Slaughter him,’ rather I told you to, ‘Bring him up.’ You have brought him up; (now) take him down.”

Rashi is not implying that Avrohom questioned Hashem. We see countless examples of Avrohom’s complete faith in Hashem’s words. It is impossible to say otherwise.

In Rashi’s earlier comments on the same verse, he cites the words “do not stretch forth,” and explains as follows. “To slaughter him. Avrohom said to Him, ‘If so, I have come here in vain. I will inflict a wound on him and extract a little blood.’ He said to him, ‘Do not do the slightest thing to him.’ Do not cause him any blemish.”

When Avrohom was told not to stretch forth his hand, he was concerned that perhaps he had not fulfilled Hashem’s command with a full heart. Furthermore, when he was told not to even make a blemish on the youth in order to carry out Hashem’s words, he was worried for the same reason. That is why G-d told him “now I know that you are a G-d fearing man, and you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.” Despite his concerns, he had actually passed the test.

May we learn from our forefather Avrohom to serve Hashem with a complete hear and total faith. In this merit, may Hashem grant all of us the best and sweetest year ever!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
*
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Bereishis 22:2.

[2]. Bereishis 21:12.

[3]. Bereishis 22:2.

Pearls of Rashi: Rosh Hashanah

Click here for a printable PDF.

This coming Shabbos will be Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s (literally the head of the year). Because of the festival, we will push off the regular Torah Portion until the following week. The following is a pearl of a Rashi in the Parshah we will read.  

In the Torah reading of Rosh Hashanah, we read of Avrohom and Soroh miraculously having a baby, our forefather Yitzchak. This is even though Avrohom was already one-hundred years old, and his wife Soroh, our matriarch, was ninety years old, G-d’s promise that they would have children was fulfilled. They gave birth to a son who would continue the chain of Judaism.

This great miracle caused Soroh to declare[1], “Who would have said to Avrohom that Soroh would nurse children, for I have given birth to a son in his old age!” Rashi cites the words from the verse “Soroh would nurse children (in the plural) ” and explains as follows. “Why is the word ‘children’ in the plural? (This is because) on the day of the feast[2], the princesses brought their children with them, and she nursed them. (Why? Because) they were saying that’ Soroh did not give birth, but rather her baby was a foundling from the street.’” In other words, she demonstrated that despite her advanced age, she was capable of nursing babies, many babies. Hence, they knew that she had been pregnant.

It seems that Rashi’s comments are open to question. Granted, the fact that “Soroh would nurse children” proved that she was pregnant. However, it did nothing to dispel the claim that Avrohom was not the father. Further on, the Torah tells us that[3] “These are the generations of Yitzchok, the son of Avrohom; Avrohom begot Yitzchok.”  Rashi cites the words “Avrohom begot Yitzchok” and explains as follows; “the scoffers of the generation were saying that Soroh had conceived from Avimelech, for she had lived with Avrohom for many years and had not conceived from him.”

Here, in our verse, this does nothing to assuage this false claim. It only demonstrated that Soroh was pregnant; however, it did nothing to show that Avrohom was the child’s father!

The explanation is that the princesses of whom Rashi speaks did not question that Avrohom was the father. They knew that Avrohom was able to father Yishmoel at age eighty-six! The only ones who had a question were the “scoffers of the generation.” These were individuals whose primary occupation is to laugh at others. They are not looking for answers; they only seek questions, to be used as ammunition for mocking others.

May Hashem grant us the strength to stand up to these people. He should give all of us the best year ever! Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
*
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Parshas Vayeiro, Bereishis 21:7.

[2]. They made a feast when Yitzchok was weaned. See Parshas Toldos, Bereishis 21:8.

[3]. See the beginning of Parshas Toldos, Bereishis 25:19.

Pearls of Rashi: Nitzovim-Vayelech II

Click here for a printable PDF.

In this week’s Torah portion, Nitzovim-Vayelech, Moshe Rabbeinu says,[1] “Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, and I will speak these words to them. I will call upon heaven and earth as witnesses against them.”

Rashi cites the words “assemble to me,” and explains why “on this day they did not blow the trumpets to assemble the congregation (as was the regular procedure).” Hashem commanded Moshe to[2] “Make for yourself two trumpets of silver… and they will be for you to call the assembly.” In other words, Hashem commanded him to “make for yourself,” and “they will be for you.” These were written in the singular form because they were directed to Moshe Rabbeinu himself. However, Rashi continues that “these trumpets were hidden away (by Hashem) even during his lifetime, before the day of his passing. This was to affirm the words of the verse[3], “and there is no ruling on the day of death.” 

Rashi seems to be saying that on the day of a Tzaddik’s passing, he can no longer rule. However, how can we reconcile this with what is written in holy works[4], that a Tzaddik reaches an even higher after his passing than held previously? “When it comes about that, the Lord takes up and gathers unto Himself (the Tzaddik’s souland he ascends from one elevation to another— to the peak of levels.”

We see here that the righteous soar higher and higher after their passing; however, from Rashi, it appears that the Tzaddik can no longer be leading.

This can be explained by understanding the verse “there is no ruling on the day of death” from a deeper perspective. For one to rule over another, they must have a connection, a relationship. At the time of the passing of a Tzaddik, he soars to such great heights that he no longer has any connection to this world. That is why “there is no ruling” at that time.

Based on this, we may draw the false conclusion that Moshe, our leader, is no longer connected to us. Therefore, the Torah tells us that even on the day of his passing, Moshe commands us to “assemble to me” all of the Jews. However, high Moshe is, he never loses his connection to us. Rashi himself says this, that[5] “Moshe is Israel and Israel is Moshe.”

Have a wonderful Shabbos! May this year, 5781, be the best in all matters, both spiritual and physical.

Rabbi Shmuel Me1ndelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 24, Beginning with Page 220

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
*
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 31:28.

[2]. Parshas Beha’aloscho, Bamidbar 10:2-3.

[3]. Koheles 8:8.

[4]. Tanya, Igerres Hakodesh Chapter 27. See also the author’s explanation in Chapter 28.

[5]. Parshas Chukas, Bamidbar 21:21.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Nitzovim-Vayelech

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Nitzovim-Vayelech, begins by telling us that Moshe Rabbeinu gathered the entire Jewish nation into Hashem’s presence. He did so to bring them into His covenant[1]. The Torah specifies that this includes every Jew. “The leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officers. Every Jewish man, (including) your young children, your women, and the convert who is within your camp, both your woodcutters and your water drawers[2].”

Rashi cites the words “both your woodcutters and your water drawers” and explains as follows. “This teaches us that Kena’anim (Canaanites) came to convert in the days of Moshe …and he made them woodcutters and water drawers for the Jews.”

The Alter Rebbe explains this on a deeper level[3], as it relates to our Divine service. Our verse specifies woodcutters. The Hebrew word for “wood” is “eitz – עץ,” which is related to the Hebrew for counsel, “eitzah – עצה.” He interpreted “woodcutters” to mean that one must cut, i.e., remove from his mind the “many thoughts (counsels) that are in the heart of man[4].” Furthermore, he explained that “water drawers” refers to draining the water that “causes all sorts of enjoyment to grow[5]” from ourselves.

The Alter Rebbe is teaching us that when serving Hashem, one may not look for “shortcuts.” After all, it is not easy to expend all of one’s energy on the study of the Torah and the performance of Mitzvos. Taking “the easy way out” is only the “counsel” of the Evil Inclination. Furthermore, one may be led astray by physical desires. Therefore, we must “drain” ourselves of these desires.

Rashi’s comments add a dimension to this teaching. It does not only apply to the time that one spends serving the Almighty while studying Torah or praying. It applies equally to the time one is involved in his business, including eating, drinking, and taking care of all of one’s physical needs. One may think that at such times it is acceptable to be concerned with the “many thoughts that are in the heart of man.”

This is why Rashi teaches us “that Kena’anim (Canaanites) came … in the days of Moshe.” We find throughout the Tanach that the word “Kena’anim – Canaanites” has the meaning of merchants[6]. Rashi is teaching us that even when one is performing his mundane tasks, he is engaged in his everyday needs, he must still beware of the “many thoughts that are in the heart of man.” He must never give in to the urge to follow his desires.

May we all have a good, sweet year both in spiritual and physical matters. Have a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 117

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
*
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. See Rashi at the beginning of our Parshah, Devorim 29:9.

[2]. Our Parshah, Devorim 29:9-10.

[3]. See Hayom Yom, Page 89.

[4]. Mishlei (Proverbs) 19:21.

[5] See Tanya Chapter 1.

[6]. See Hoshea 12:8, among other sources.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Tavo II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Savo, tells us that the Jewish people are Hashem’s treasured Nation; as it is written in our Parshah[1], “Hashem has selected you today to be His treasured people as He spoke to you …” Where do we find that the Almighty said this? Rashi answers this question. He cites the words, “He spoke to you,” and goes on to tell us that He said this to the Jewish people at the time of the giving of the Torah. He said that[2] “you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples.”

There Rashi explains what is meant by “a treasure[3].” He writes that the word “treasure” means “a beloved treasure, as it is written[4] “and the treasures of the kings.” This refers to costly vessels and precious stones, which kings store away. So too will you be more of a treasure to Me than the other nations.”

It is clear enough that Rashi is equating the Jew’s status as a treasure with that of a royal treasure of precious stones. However, just as is the case with everything else in the Torah, there is an even deeper meaning contained within these words.

There are various categories of precious, royal stones. The monarch holds these in trust for his/her successors and the Nation. There are gems that are affixed to the royal crown to add to its beauty. There is another category of glory which the king uses purely for the benefit of the Nation. Finally, there are gems that serve no use whatsoever. They are placed within the king’s treasury, and he makes no use of them. The only purpose which they serve is to bring pleasure to the ruler.

The same is true of Hashem, the true king, and His precious stones, the Jewish people. It is true that the service of the Jews here in this world serves a great purpose. Through learning Torah and performing Mitzvos Jews reveal G-dliness in the world!

However, there is an aspect of Jewish service which is greater than this. Each and every Jew, without exception, is Hashem’s precious gem. This is so by virtue of the fact that he is an actual part of Hashem above! G-d derives pleasure from the existence of every single Jew, even without his performance of Torah and Mitzvos. He does not need an excuse or a reason to enjoy His treasured Nation. Every single member of the Jewish Nation must be aware of his exalted status and realize the potential this gives him.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 24, Pages 161-164

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
*
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 26:18.

[2]. Parshas Yisro, Shemos 19:5.

[3]. See ibid., Rashi’s comments.

[4]. Koheles (Ecclesiastes) 2:8.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Tavo

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Tavo, begins with the commandment to give our first-fruits to Hashem[1]; “And it will be when you come to the land which Hashem gives you for an inheritance, and you possess it and settle in it, (then) you shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground which you will bring from your land … You shall put them in a basket and go to the place which G-d will choose to have His Name dwell there (meaning the Bais Hamikdosh in Jerusalem).”

Rashi cites the words, “And it will be … and you possess it and settle in it.” He says that “This teaches us that they were not obligated to bring first-fruits until they conquered the Land and divided it.”

After forty years of wandering in the desert, the Jews finally entered Israel. It then took seven years to conquer the land, and an additional seven years to divide the land. Rashi is explaining that these verses teach us that the Mitzvah of bringing first–fruits did not take effect until the end of these 14 years.

This is a matter of debate between the Sages. One opinion is that the expression “and it will be” always implies that which occurs immediately. Hence, there was a requirement to bring first-fruits directly upon entering the land[2]. The second opinion that of Rashi, that the Mitzvah would not apply until the land was conquered and divided[3].

We know that even when there is a disagreement as to what the existing law requires, both opinions are valid[4]. Therefore, we can learn a lesson from each opinion in our service of Hashem.

By bringing first-fruits, we thank Hashem for His kindness. We give Him the first, the choicest of our fruits. Additionally, we verbally declare our gratitude for all of the kindness which He has performed for us.

We thank Hashem, as the words “it shall be” imply, immediately. Immediately upon arising from sleep, one thanks G-d for restoring his soul. These thanks do not stem from intellectual contemplation; instead, it is a result of the natural love of Hashem, which is implanted within each Jew.

We must also thank Hashem by bringing the first-fruits after the land is conquered and divided. This is the gratitude that we express to G-d during the morning prayers. We first contemplate His greatness and intellectually understand before Whom we stand to the best of our ability. At that point, our gratitude is with a great depth of recognition.

May we all appreciate the great miracles which Hashem performs for each of us, and express the appropriate thanks.

 I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a sweet new year!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 34, Page 150-152

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 26:1-2.

[2]. See the Midrash Sifri on this verse.

[3]. See Talmud Kiddushin 37, b.

[4]. See Talmud Eiruvin 13, b.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Teitzei II

Click here for a printable PDF.

In this week’s Torah portion, Teitzei, the Torah tells us that[1] “You shall not withhold the wages of a poor or destitute hired worker … you shall pay him his wage on his day (the day that he works) and not let the sunset over it …” In other words, we may not withhold the wages of a hired worker; instead, we must pay him the same day.

Earlier in the Torah, we find that Hashem promised us that[2] “I will turn towards you …” Rashi explains this as follows. “I will turn away from all My affairs to pay for your reward.” To what may this be compared? To a king who hired some workers …” From this, it is clear that our service of Hashem in Torah and Mitzvos is comparable to that of a hired worker for his employer.

The Sages tell us that Hashem fulfills that which He tells the Jews to perform. Based on this, we need to understand how G-d delays our payment. The Sages teach us that[3] “today we must fulfill the Mitzvos, and tomorrow, meaning in the World to Come, we will receive our payment.” How can Hashem “transgress” His commandment? It would seem that He should pay us upon the completion of each Mitzvah. Why is it that He withholds our wages, and does not pay us on the same day?

This can be explained in the following manner. The Alter Rebbe cites[4] the teaching of the Sages[5], that “the purpose of creation is that Hashem desired a dwelling place down below.” The words “down below” refer to this low, physical world of ours. There is none lower than this world in terms of the concealment of    G-dly light. It is here specifically that Hashem desired to dwell, meaning that His presence is to be revealed here without any concealment whatsoever[6]. How is it possible to accomplish such a feat? This is done through[7] “our actions and Divine service throughout the duration of our exile.” Every act of serving Hashem, which is performed by each Jew, refines his body and his portion in this world. It is through the efforts of the entire Jewish nation, throughout all generations that we can “construct” this dwelling place for Hashem.

What this means to say is that our job is not complete until we reach the time of the total perfection of this world, which will take place in the World to Come. Therefore, Hashem is not delaying our payment; instead, He is paying us after our task.

May each of us work quickly to complete our job, thereby fulfilling Hashem’s desire. In this merit, may we all have a good, sweet year. I wish one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 29, Page 138-144

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 24:14-15.

[2]. Parshas Bechukosai, Vayikra 26:9.

[3]. See Talmud Eiruvin 22, a, Avodah Zarah 3, a.

[4]. See Tanya at the beginning of Chapter 36.

[5]. See the Midrash Tanchumah to Parshas Naso, Section 16.

[6]. See Tanya ibid.

[7]. Tanya Chapter 37.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Teitzei

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Torah portion, Ki Seitzei, begins by telling us the laws which apply[1] “If you go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem delivers him into your hands, and you take his captives …” Rashi cites the words “if you go out to war,” and explains that “The verse here is referring to an optional war.”

Upon entering Israel, Hashem commanded the Jews to conquer specific nations to acquire the land which they would inherit. These were wars that the Jews were commanded to fight. If the Jews wished to expand their territory, under certain circumstances, Hashem permitted them to wage war. This war is optional, i.e., they were not commanded to fight it.

The word Torah is derived from the Hebrew word, meaning lesson or teaching. Works of Chassidic philosophy teach us that “going out to war against your enemies” refers to the ongoing battle of the Good Inclination against the Evil Inclination. This is in keeping with what we find that[2] “the time of Tefillah (prayer) is the time of war.”  However, we need to understand what specific lesson can we learn about waging an optional “war against your enemy” from the Parshah?

There are two manners of dealing with the Yetzer Hora. One can either wage war against it or overcome it peacefully[3]. The battle against evil is conducted through prayer, as quoted above from the Zohar. The peaceful manner of overcoming the Evil Inclination is accomplished through Torah study. Regarding Torah, it is written that[4] “Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all of its paths are peace.”

Through prayer, one refines the world “from the bottom up.” One begins from below and ascends to the Divine. The Jew must be entangled within the Animal Soul to elevate it to holiness. Torah study, on the other hand, draws G-dliness down into this world. By bringing the Divine into his soul, the Evil Inclination of he who studies is automatically refined.

That explains why engaging in the battle against evil through Tefillah is called an “optional war.” There is another more natural way to engage the Animal Soul; we can defeat it through Torah.

May we all exert ourselves both in Tefillah and Torah even beyond what we believe to be our capacity. Thereby we will assure that each of us will be inscribed and sealed for a good year in all respects.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a very good year!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 85

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 21:10.

[2]. This is a teaching of the Zohar which is quoted in Likkutei Torah at the beginning of our Parshah, and in a number of other places. See also Zohar Section I, Page 240, a and Zohar Section III, Page 246, a.

[3]. The difference between these two is explained at length in the discourses beginning Tanu Rabbanan Ner Chanukah 5659, and Vayomer Moshe 5704.

[4]. Mishlei 3:17.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Shoftim II

Click here for a printable PDF.

This week’s Parshah tells us that[1] “A prophet from among you, from your brothers, (who is) like me, will Hashem set up for you. You shall listen to him.” Rashi cites the words from this verse “from among you, from your brothers, like me.” He explains that “this means that just as I am among you, from your brothers, so too will Hashem set up for you (another prophet) in my place. (This will continue) so on, from one prophet to (the next) prophet.” In other words, just as we had Moshe Rabbeinu to communicate with Hashem on our behalf, so too will we have other prophets through whom Hashem will communicate with us.

However, the Sages told us that[2] “From the time of the passing of the later prophets, Chaggai, Zechariah and Malachi, prophecy departed from the world.”

In other words, there would come a time that we would not have a prophet “from among you, from your brothers, like me.”  However, that cannot be true. We know from many words of the Sages[3] that Ruach Hakodesh, a spirit akin to prophecy (although not quite at the same level[4]) existed during the time of the Talmud. Furthermore, it seems that prophecy existed even during the Middle Ages. The Baalei Tosfos were medieval scholars who wrote a commentary to the Talmud that appears in (nearly) every edition of the Talmud. Among their ranks was included Rabbi Ezra the Prophet[5].

Based on this, we can explain that the words of our Sages that “prophecy departed from the world,” means that it is no longer prevalent as it was during the era of the Prophets. It is uncommon for there to be a person worthy of reaching this level. The Rambam writes[6] that there are many lofty levels that one must attain even before prophecy can rest upon him.

This also explains why the Talmud used the words that “prophecy departed from the world.” It does not say that prophecy ceased to exist.

We are not, G-d forbid, widowed. Hashem is always with us, standing by our side (as so to speak). Furthermore, the Talmud teaches that[7] “one who says that he has applied the proper effort and reached his goal may be believed.” If we exert ourselves, there is nothing that is beyond our reach. That certainly includes the goal of bringing Moshiach now!

Have a good Shabbos. May we all merit a good, sweet year in all respects.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Pages 72-73

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 18:15.

[2] See Talmud Yoma 9, b and Sotah 48, b. See also Tosefta Sotah Chapter 13, d, and Tosefta Sanhedrin Chapter 11, a.

[3]. See for example, Sanhedrin 11, a.

[4]. See Igerres Hakodesh Chapter 22.

[5]. See Tosfos’ comments to Talmud Gittin 88, a and Shavuos 25, a.

[6]. See the Laws of the Fundamental Principles of Torah, Chapter 7.

[7]. See Talmud Megillah 6, a.

Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Shoftim

Click here for a printable PDF.

In this week’s Parshah, the Torah commands to establish judges and officers in all of the cities of the land that we are about to enter (Israel). The Torah tells us that[1] “You shall set up judges and law enforcement officials for yourself in all your cities that the Hashem is giving you for your tribes. They shall judge the people with righteous judgment.” What is the difference between judges (שופטים) and officers (שוטרים)? Rashi explains that judges are those “who decide the verdict.” Officers are those “who chastise the people in compliance with their order. They strike and bind with rods and straps until the guilty party accepts the verdict.” In modern parlance, “officers” are the police.

The prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) tells of a prophecy that will take place in the days of Moshiach. He writes that[2] “I will restore your judges as at first and your counselors as in the beginning. Afterward, you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.” In other words, just as Hashem commands us to establish judges at all of the gates of the Holy Land, so too will we have judges at the time of the future Redemption. However, something seems to be missing. The Torah commanded us to have “police” to enforce the judge’s verdicts. This part of the command is missing from Yeshayahu’s prophecy. His prophecy only added “counselors” to the judges. Why will there be no officers in the ultimate Redemption?

The explanation is quite simple, based on Rashi’s interpretation of our verse. The judges will decide the verdict. However, there will be instances that people will not wish to accept the judges’ ruling. That is why we will still need officers. Even after entering Israel, we will yet have a “Yetzer Hora – an Evil Inclination.”

However, at the time of the future Redemption, the Yetzer Hora will be gone. The prophet Zechariah tells us that[3] “… also the (false) prophets and the spirit of contamination I will remove from the earth.” With no Evil Inclination, we will not need for one to enforce Hashem’s law. All that we will need is an advisor to teach us how important it is to follow the proper path. We can certainly bring the redemption closer by behaving now as if we are already living in the time of Redemption!

I wish one and all a good Shabbos. May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good year in all respects.

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Sefer Hasichos 5751 Volume 2, 780-795

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויטש

לזכות
חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס

נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס


[1]. Our Parshah, Devorim 16:18.

[2]. Yeshayahu 1:26.

[3]. Zechariah 13:2.