Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Parshas Shoftim 5767

To see last year's Dvar Torah, CLICK HERE.

Adapted from a shiur given by R' Baruch Simon.

לא תַסִּיג גְּבוּל רֵעֲךָ, אֲשֶׁר גָּבְלוּ רִאשׁנִים--בְּנַחֲלָתְךָ, אֲשֶׁר תִּנְחַל, בָּאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלהֶיךָ נתֵן לְךָ לְרִשְׁתָּהּ.

“Do not move back the boundary of your neighbor that the first [settlers] determine in your territory that you will inherit in the land that Ad-noy, your G-d, is giving you to inherit.” (Sefer Devarim, 19:14)

Literally speaking (at least according to Rashi), this verse teaches us that we shouldn’t move boundaries dividing our land form our neighbor’s. The Ramban says that this verse is specifically referring to the tribal borders of Eretz Yisrael. He continues to explain that by moving these borders of Israel one is, in a sense, undermining the Hashgacha of Hashem in the Gorel/lottery system used to divide the land.

The Sifri, who the Ramban actually quotes in his notes on this idea, adds further. He says, lets assume there is a machlokes on a certain matter between R’ Elazar and R’ Yehoshua, and one holds that the certain item is Tahor, and the other says Tamei. You, however, forget the exact ruling and switch up the opinions of who says which. In this case, says the Sifri, you have violated this prohibition, as you have moved the “boundary” of their rulings. The Arizal explains here that within every Halacha that Moshe gave to the Jews, he gave 49 reasons that it should be permissible and 49 reasons that it should be forbidden. Every person, when ruling on this matter, will have a natural inclination one way or another. Thus, to switch up the rulings of R’ Elazar and R’ Yehoshua is more than just a brief mental lapse; according to the Arizal, you’re switching up their entire “Shoresh haNeshama” that lead them to rule in the way that each did.

Similarly, it says in the Avos d’Rav Nosson that if someone learns for 6 months without reviewing and a person comes to ask them whether something is permissible or prohibited, the person making the ruling will switch up the ruling. That is, if the Halacha really is that the thing is permissible, the person who doesn’t review will say it is prohibited; and vice versa. It goes on to say that one who learns for 12 months without review will come to switch up which opinion says what. That is, if R’ Elazar is the one who the Halacha goes in accordance with, the person making the ruling will say it in the name of R’ Yehoshua. The question here is obvious: when thinking about Halacha, we obviously forget the source for the Halachos (who it is quoted in the name of) that we learn before we forget the Halacha itself. So, why, according to this, do we forget the Halacha first?

The answer given is that after 6 months, you’ll forget the Halacha, as this is a mere detail. It happens to be that nowadays who said what a detail to us is also. However, if you really understand the person that is saying something, you’d realize that what they say isn’t a detail; rather, it’s helping to get a better understanding of the essence of that person. For example, regarding my friends, I am likely to forget specific details about things that happened between us, but am I less likely to forget the type of person, in general, that he is.

The lesson here is that when we get to understand people, we realize that everyone’s essence is different. There’s no mitzvah to try to make everyone the same in our minds. Regarding ourselves, we shouldn’t be upset by the fact that we don’t fit into a cookie-cutter mold that it often seems that the community is trying to fit us into. Or, regarding others (and our children), we shouldn’t expect everyone to be like we are or to try to mold our children into some mold that we have envisioned for them. To say otherwise would be like saying the opinion of R’ Elazar in the name of R’ Yehoshua.

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