These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of RabbiYissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torahportion: Tape # 109, Hasogas G’vul: Infringing on Another’s livelihood. Good Shabbos!
The Judge Who Will Be There in Those Days
The Torah tells us in this week’s Parsha, “And you shall come to theKohanim, the Leviim, and to the Judge that will be in those days” to seekguidance in legal matters. Rashi is bothered by the expression “in thosedays” and comments “and even if he is not like the Judges who precededhim, you need to listen to him — you have none other than the Judge whois there in your days.”
Rashi tells us that if you are an elderly Jew from Europe, who remembersRabbis of the caliber of Reb Chaim Ozer, the Chofetz Chaim, and RebYitzchak Elchanan and now you feel that “today’s Rabbis” do not measure upto this level of scholarship and piety, you must nevertheless heed thecommand of the Pasuk — you have no one else other than the Judges of yourown time. This is your generation, these are your poskim, you have toaccept them with the same respect and authority as was done for the poskimand shoftim of the previous generations.
A grandson of one of the great poskim of our generation (Rav Henkin, z”tl)writes in his sefer, Sefer Shaylos U’Tshuvos Bnei Banim, a eulogy for hisgrandfather. In this piece he points out an additional insight from theverse: What does it mean “…the Judge who will be in those days” (asheryiheyeh bayamim haHem)? The insight pointed out by Rashi could havebeen derived just as well if the Torah wrote “…the Judge in those days”(asher bayamim haHem). What are the extra words “who will be” (asher yiheyeh), coming to teach us?
Rav Henkin’s grandson writes, that while the phrase “go to the Judges inyour time” is an instruction to us as seekers (as Rashi says), thespecific usage of the word “asher” is an instruction to the Judgesthemselves, regarding how they have to be. In o rder for a person to bean effective Dayan, he has to be one who is living in those times, “intouch” with that generation. If the Posek feels he is above thegeneration, he doesn’t understand the youth and the problems of thegeneration, he can’t relate to them… then he cannot be a Posek! A Posekmust be one “Who will be” (asher yiheyeh) — one who can relate to andappreciate his own generation. Only then can he be a Dayan.
The Mishneh says in Avos [2:5] “Do not judge your friend until you arrivein his place”. The Shaylos U’Tshuvos Bnei Banim interprets this to mean– don’t judge your friend until you have an appreciation for the peopleyou are dealing with. He goes on t o say that even though Rav Henkinreached an elderly age and was in fact from another generation, henevertheless had an appreciation for our own generation as well andtherefore was such an effective Posek.
Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev says a similar insight. The Gemara, manytimes after raising a certain problem that cannot be resolved concludeswith the word “TeYKU“. “TeYKU” is actually an acronym for the expression”Tishbi Yetaretz Kushyos V’Abayos” — Tishbi (Eliyahu HaNavi) will comeand will clear up all of our doubts and questions. Reb Levi Yitzchakasks, with all due respect to Eliyahu, why is he of all the greatpersonalities of Jewish history given the task of paskening all theShaylos? What about Moshe Rabbeinu? What about Shmuel HaNavi? Reb LeviYitzchak answers, the reason Eliyahu can pasken all Shaylos is because ourRabbis tell us that “Eliyahu never died” — he was part of the twentiethcentury! He understands the nineties; … and the forties; … he waspart of the 17th century; … and the sixth century; … he was part of itall. He never died. When a generation needs the resolution of aquestion, they have to go to the Posek that will be there with thatgeneration. Who is su ch a Posek? Eliyahu haNavi.
Cities of Refuge in Messianic Times: A Painful Reminder
The Torah tells us in this week’s sedra, the laws of the Cities of Refuge(Arei Miklat). If a person kills unintentionally he has to go to one ofthe Arei Miklat and he must stay there until the Kohen Gadol will die. Wehave previously learned [Devorim 4:41] of the establishment of 3 cities ofrefuge on the eastern side of the Jordan, for the two and a half tribeswho settled there. The command in this week’s portion [19:1-3] isaddressed to the Jews who will be settling in Eretz Yisroel, to the west of the Jordan — to set up another three cities of refuge over there.
Next the Torah mentions [19:8-9] “And if G-d will expand your borders ashe promised your forefathers…you will add an additional three citiesbeyond these three (making a total of nine)”. Rashi tells us this refersto the lands of Keini, Kenizi, and Ka dmoni (which we are destined to getonly in the days of the Moshiach).
This is very interesting. The prophet tells us about the days of Moshiach”for the land will be filled with knowledge of G-d like the Ocean iscovered with water” [Isaiah 11:9]. The Rambam tells us [Hilchos Melachim12:5] that the days of Moshiach will be so spiritual that people won’t beinterested in their livelihoods and they won’t be running after money. The only thing that will matter is trying to gain understanding of G-d.
Is it not strange that in an era when people will only be interested inacquiring better understanding of Hashem, we will need any cities ofrefuge for unintentional murderers, let alone an additional three which wenever had before?
Note, that the Talmud points out that the “unintentional murder” whichnecessitates going to a city of refuge is not just “an accident”. (Accidents may continued to happen even in Messianic times). The Talmudstates that “unintentional murder” happens w hen people are careless abouthuman life. We see this from the Talmud’s explanation of the fact thattwo and a half tribes “across the Jordan” needed the same number of AreiMiklat as nine and a half tribes “west of the Jordan”. The reason theTalmud gi ves is that “in Gilaad (east of the Jordan), murder was common”. Obviously we see that where murder is common “unintentional” murder isalso common! [Like today, when there are handguns in the house, childrenplay with handguns, and unintentional death is also quite common].
Why then are 3 more cities of refuge needed in the Messianic era — thetime of ultimate spirituality? The Baalei Mussar answer this questionwith an analogy from another apparently strange practice: the selection ofa Torah reading for mincha on Yom Kippur.
One would assume that at Mincha on Yom Kippur, a person would be at hisspiritual apex of the entire year. He’s been through Ma’ariv andShachris, and Mussaf. He hasn’t eaten or drunk anything. He hasn’texperienced any physical pleasures of this world the entire day; he hasn’tspoken Lashon Hara the entire day; he hasn’t spoken Devorim Beteilim theentire day; no bitul Torah…
We take out the Sefer Torah and what do we read to people who are almostlike Angels? The portion of forbidden sexual relationships: Oneshouldn’t commit incest, one shouldn’t commit adultery, one shouldn’t havehomosexual relationships! This is what t he congregation needs to hear onYom Kippur at Mincha? Should we not be speaking at this time about themost elevated and profound matters of spirituality?
Why then did the Rabbis instruct that the Parsha of Arayos should be readat this time? The answer is that they wanted to instruct the congregationto realize that even on Yom Kippur at Mincha, one cannot assume he istruly like an Angel. Even then he m ust recognize his human frailties andweaknesses. Don’t think that just because one has attained this level ofcloseness to G-d that one is locked into it. It’s a constant battle, andit has to go on, and one has to work constantly. If one does not wor kconstantly, one can fall subject to his passions and anything can happen. This is what people must hear on Yom Kippur at Mincha: Your status asan “Angel” can turn around in a day, if you don’t watch yourself!
This also, is why we make three additional cities of refuge in the days ofMoshiach. Even at a time when our natural aspiration will be to seek outknowledge of G-d and to do kindness, we must remember we are only humanbeings. We need a painful reminde r of this fact. That reminder is the 3additional cities of refuge. Even in the best of circumstances, withoutconstant work, one is not far removed from murder or adultery. The gameis never over, even in the days of Moshiach.
The cities are to be set aside to symbolically serve as a reminder toalways keep ourselves in check so that we may truly experience a worldwhich is “filled with the Knowledge of G-d, like the waters fill theoceans”.
Dayan, Shofet, Posek — (plural: Dayanim, Shoftim, Poskim) All refer to one who renders halachik decisions. [Generally, Dayan and Shofet are terms used for one deciding a specific case (usually involving money matters). Posek decides broader legal interpretation, including matters of a ritual nature].
Sefer Shaylos U’Tshuvos Bnei Banim — title of the book by Rav Henkin’s grandson (literally Grandchildren’s Responsa)
Eliyahu HaNavi — Elijah the Prophet
Kohen Gadol — High Priest
Keini, Kenizi, Kadmoni — 7 of the ten nations who’s land Abraham was promised by G-d to inherit (land that extends between “The River of Egypt” and the Euphrates).
Moshiach — Messiah
Baalei Mussar — Rabbis who emphasized the teaching of strict ethical behavior (mussar)
Arayos — Torah portion dealing with forbidden sexual relations
Lashon Hara — Slander, gossip
Devorim Beteilim — Idle talk
Bitul Torah — Wasting time from Torah study
Personalities & Sources:
R. Yoseph Eliyahu Henkin– (1881-1973) Emigrated to U.S. in 1922 from Europe where he had been a Rav and Rosh Yeshiva. Served as Director of Ezras Torah from 1925 until his death. He was known as a supreme authority in halachic matters (“Posek Hador”).
R. Chaim Ozer Grodziensky – (1863-1939); Lithuania Rosh Yeshiva
R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor – (1817-1896); Lithuania Rosh Yeshiva
R. Yisroel Meir HaCohen Kagan [Chofetz Chaim]– (1839-1933); Lithuania Rosh Yeshiva
R. Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev – (1740-1810); Polish Chassidic Rebbe.
This week’s write-up is adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissochar Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tapes on the weekly Torah portion (#109). The corresponding halachic portion for this tape is: # 109 is: Hasogas G’vul: Infringing on Another’s Livelihood. Other halachic portions for Parshas Shoftim from the Commuter Chavrusah Series are:
- Tape # 019 – Copying Cassette Tapes
- Tape # 155 – Ba’al Tashchis: Cutting Down That Troublesome Tree
- Tape # 202 – Melech v’lo Malka: A Jewish Queen?
- Tape # 249 – May A Daughter Say Kaddish?
- Tape # 292 – Polygraph in Halacha
- Tape # 338 – Relying on a Goral
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from:
Yad Yechiel Institute
Call (410) 358-0416 for further information.
Also Available: Mesorah / Artscroll has published a collection of Rabbi Frand’s essays. The book is entitled:
and is available through Project Genesis On-Line Bookstore:http://books.torah.org/