Torah Teaser – Parshat Shoftim Questions & Answers – Sep 09 2116-5776

A King Is Not For Every Society “Ki Savo El HaAretz… V’Amarta Asima Alai Melech; When you come into Eretz Yisrael… and you will say place upon us a king.” The Mitzva of making a king is one of the Taryag Mitzvos. Why does the Torah say, “V’AMarta; When you will say that you want a king,” Is it optional? The Netziv answers that each country and each society is different. “Some countries cannot function without a strong leader, while other cultures cannot tolerate a king dictating the country’s order and policies. The leadership of a country needs to match the society, and having a type of leadership that is incompatible with the people, can have consequences bordering on Sakanas Nefashos,” says the Netziv. “Such drastic matters cannot be forced upon them by a Mitzvas Aseh. Therefore, the Mitzva of coronating a King is a democratic decision. Only when the people are ready for it and ask for it, only then must the Sanhedrin anoint a king. This is seen in history as Bnei Yisrael did not have a king until after being in Eretz Yisrael for 300 years. Until then there was no consensus for it,” says the Netziv.
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Shattered Dreams “Mi HaIsh Asher Banah Bayis… Mi HaIsh Asher Nata Kerem… Mi HaIsh Asher Eiras Isha… Yeileich V’Yashov L’Baiso.” (Devarim 20:5-7). The Torah exempts a person who builds a small house that is 4×4 amos and has not yet lived in it, from joining Am Yisrael in a war, because maybe he will die and another man will live in it. But, someone who owns massive amounts of real estate must go fight, even if his death results in another man taking over his empire. Someone who planted a few vines and has not yet been able to eat his grapes is exempt, but a wine barron with acres and acres of fields must fight. Someone who gets engaged is exempt because he worries that someone else will marry his wife, but for a father of 7 children, we don’t care about his concern that someone else will marry his wife and raise his kids in his place. “Why?” asks Rav Elyashiv. Rav Elyashiv (Divrei Agadah) answers that a person who has built up great wealth does not specifically think about each property he owns. His thoughts in battle will be turned towards the war at hand. However, a poor person who has never had a place to call his own and has finally gotten to the point where he is on the cusp of getting his very own Daled Amos, or a person who has lived alone without a mate and has finally found his other half, cannot stop thinking about what happens if hr loses his field or his wife. These are not people fit to fight a war. They will be consumed with visions of their modest premises or their life partner during battle and they are in grave danger of getting killed. In exempting these people from fighting a war, the Torah recognizes the frail psyche of people who see their dreams so close, yet is in danger of eluding them. “Deracheha Darkei Noam V’Chol Nesivoseha Shalom.”
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The Only Matzeiva You Can Make Is On Your Grave “V’Lo Sakim Licha Matzeiva Asher Sanei Hashem Elokecha; Do not erect a Matzeiva which Hashem hates.” (Shoftim 16:22). Rashi explains that although Hashem loved the Matzeivos in the times of the Avos, now Hashem hates them. Why? Rav Moshe Feinstein says that we find Yaakov Avinu made two Matzeivos. On one he poured Nesachim, and one was for Rochel when she died. Although the prior one is forbidden today, we still make matzeivos when people die. Rav Moshe explains that the inyan of a Matzeiva is that we erect before Hashem the mitzvos we have done, and ask Hashem to recognize the reward we deserve. Before Matan Torah no one was commanded to do the Mitzvos, so if someone did a mitzva he could demand his reward from Hashem even if he had no plans of doing mitzvos in the future. However, now we are obligated to do mitzvos, so we cannot demand our reward until after we die since the obligation continues until then. Yaakov made a matzeiva for Hashem by doing mitzvos and in return he asked Hashem to accept his Nesachim. This we cannot do today because we cannot demand our reward halfway through our mission. However, we can make matzeivos for people who finished their mission on this world and can now receive their eternal reward, just like Yaakov did for Rochel.

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