Vertluch: Parshas Shoftim

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I had the zechus to have a seat at the table of the weekly erev Shabbos Chumash chabura, of the Rosh Hayeshiva Zt’l, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel. The following vort is what was said over by the Rosh Hayeshiva Zt’l on this weeks parsha.

The gemara in Shavous (39a) says ‘kol Yisroel arevim ze lazeh’, all of klal Yisroel are responsible for another. This statement is lacking explaining, how can an individual be responsible for the entire klal?

At the end of the parsha the Torah discusses the concept of an eglah arufah. The Torah says ‘If a slain person be found in the land which your God is giving you to possess, lying in the field, [and] it is not known who struck him, then your elders and judges shall go forth, and they shall measure to the cities around the corpse. And it will be, [that from] the city closer to the corpse, the elders of that city shall take a calf with which work has never been done, [and] that has never drawn a yoke, and the elders of that city shall bring the calf down to a rugged valley, which was neither tilled nor sown, and there in the valley, they shall decapitate the calf.’ (21; 1-4)

Even Ezra says ‘ki yishafcha dam naki ki sa’aseh hayashar b’einei Hashem’; if one is yashar (straight) in the eyes of Hashem, it will prevent the parsha of eglah arufa. If a person is careful and does what is ‘b’einei Hashem’ then that will prevent people from wanting to intentionally kill him.

We can attempt to explain this concept with the following parable. The Dubna Maaggid was asked, how can a person be mechazek other people? He answered; imagine you have a jar with many little glasses. If you overflow the jar then you will find that each of the little glass will be full.

Similarly we can say that pshat in kol Yisroel arevim ze lazeh is that a person should be overflowing with yiras shomayim, Torah, mitzvos, etc. By overflowing ourselves with the good it will leave absolutely no room for any davar rah. One has to be miskarev to Hashem, become close to Hashem, to prevent devarim rah and to enable him to be mekayim kol Yisroel arevim ze lazeh.

Reb Yisroel Salanter said that the power of Torah is such, that if one learns a sugya of gemara it can save his children from going off the derech.

The gemara in Pesachim (68) says that Rav Yosef said if not for this day of matan Torah ‘kama Yosef ika b’shuka’, how many regular Josephs would there be in the marketplace? I would not have been any greater than anyone else out there. The reason being that it was through Torah that he elevated himself and achieved the status of a ‘Rebbi’. And for that, he prepared himself an expensive piece of meat.

Says the Rosh Hayeshiva Zt’l, this is our purpose; to elevate and to lift ourselves up to a loftier level. This is how a person accomplishes kol Yisroel arevim ze lazeh. Especially in the month of Elul when one should strive to be misromem and to become closer to Hashem, as it says ani lidodi v’dodi Li; the days of Elul are days of closeness to Hashem; a person has an obligation to be more misromem.

We know that there is a special mitzvah for a king to write a sefer Torah. For what purpose? ‘l’maan yirah es Hashem.’ It doesn’t say in order to ‘teach’ the Torah but rather in order to instill ‘fear’ of Hashem; to instill fear of Hashem and to bring us closer to Hashem, through Torah, without hefsek. Torah has to be complete, and if order for that to happen there can’t be any hefsek-especially in the month of Elul. We know that R’ Akiva was away from his wife and family learning Torah for fourteen years. After fourteen long years of being away he finally returns to his hometown, only to hear his wife say that she would gladly grant him another fourteen years away, as long as he is learning Torah. Upon hearing this he turned around and did just that. Many ponder at his rather odd behavior. Did he lack the decency to knock on the door and at the very least just say hi? He was right there?! The answer is because he understood that Torah has to be without hefsek. In order for a person to succeed there has to be continuity. Rav Chaim Zt’l used to say that with Torah twelve plus twelve is not twenty four; he was scared of the danger that hefsek posed to him.

Let us all be mechazek ourselves, not just for us but also for our obligation of the klal and in order to strengthen ourselves in learning and in avodas Hashem. With this, may we all be zoche to a year full of health, parnassah limud haTorah, nachas and gezunt.