Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Shemos - Social Justice

Shalom Sweet Friends!

A huuuuge mazel toov to R' Yosef Tzvi And Myra Ehrman on the marriage of their daughter Esti to Aharon Gewirtzman. May they build bayis adei ad bi-simcha ubi-ahava!!

This dvar Torah is dedicated with hakaras hatov to all of those who have made my trip to the US so special!!

Li-rfuas HaRav Zave Chaim Ben Chaya Aidel, Naomi bas Tova, Sara Leah bas Rivka בתוך שח"י.

In this week parsha we learn about the act of Moshe to save the daughters of Yisro from the shephards who were oppressing them. The pasuk says
ויבואו הרועים, ויגרשום; ויקם משה ויושיען, וישק את-צאנם. 

The shepherds came and expelled them and Moshe "arose" and saved them and gave their sheep to drink. 

What would the pasuk be missing if it would not have ויקם "he arose". Nothing! So why the seemingly extra word? 

Mori Vi-rabi Shlita explained based on the Rambam:

בית דין של שלשה אף על פי שאין מדקדקין בהן בכל אלו הדברים צריך שיהא בכל אחד מהן שבעה דברים ואלו הן: חכמה וענוה ויראה ושנאת ממון ואהבת האמת ואהבת הבריות להן ובעלי שם טוב וכל אלו הדברים מפורשין הן בתורה הרי הוא אומר אנשים חכמים ונבונים הרי בעלי חכמה אמור וידועים לשבטיכם אלו שרוח הבריות נוחה מהם ובמה יהיו אהובים לבריות בזמן שיהיו בעלי עין טובה ונפש שפלה וחברתן טובה ודבורן ומשאן בנחת עם הבריות ולהלן הוא אומר אנשי חיל אלו שהן גבורים במצות ומדקדקים על עצמם וכובשין את יצרן עד שלא יהא להן שום גנאי ולא שם רע ויהא פרקן נאה ובכלל אנשי חיל שיהיה להן לב אמיץ להציל עשוק מיד עושקו כענין שנאמר ויקם משה ויושיען ומה משה רבינו עניו אף כל דיין צריך להיות עניו יראי אלהים כמשמעו שונאי בצע אף ממון שלהם אינן נבהלין עליו ולא רודפין לקבץ הממון שכל מי שהוא נבהל להון חסר יבואנו אנשי אמת שיהיו רודפין אחר הצדק מחמת עצמן בדעתן אוהבין את האמת ושונאין את החמס ובורחין מכל מיני העול:

We are not careful to demand that a judge for a court of three possess all these qualities. He must, however, possess seven attributes: wisdom, humility, the fear of God, a loathing for money, a love for truth; he must be a person who is beloved by people at large, and must have a good reputation.

All of these qualities are mentioned explicitly in the Torah. When relating Moses' statements concerning the appointment of judges, the Torah mentions: "Men of wisdom and understanding." This refers to wisdom.

The verse continues: "Beloved by your tribes." This refers to those who are appreciated by people at large. What will make them beloved by people? Conducting themselves with a favorable eye and a humble spirit, being good company, and speaking and conducting their business with people gently.

When relating Jethro's advice to Moses to appoint judges, Exodus 18:21 speaks of "men of power." This refers to people who are mighty in their observance of the mitzvot, who are very demanding of themselves, and who overcome their evil inclination until they possess no unfavorable qualities, no trace of an unpleasant reputation, even during their early manhood, they were spoken of highly. The phrase "men of power" also implies that they should have a courageous heart to save an oppressed person from the one oppressing him, as Exodus 2:17 states: "And Moses arose and delivered them."

Just as we see that Moses was humble; so, too, every judge should be humble. Exodus 18:21 continues: "God-fearing" - the intent is obvious. It mentions: "men who hate profit," i.e., people who do not become overly concerned even about their own money. They do not pursue the accumulation of money, for anyone who is overly concerned about wealth will ultimately be overcome by want.

The verse continues: "men of truth," i.e., people who pursue justice because of their own inclination; they love truth, hate crime, and flee from all forms of crookedness.

So the Rambam says that ויקם means a man who doesn't sit idly but works hard for social justice. The Rambam continues to say that the judge must be humble like Moshe. This means, explained Mori Vi-rabi, that he should ask for nothing in return for his actions as Moshe asked for nothing in return for his actions. He only came to Yisro to eat after he insisted. A humble person never feels ס'קומט מיר - I deserve it. It's coming to me.

We learn from this Rambam the high level of moral standing required of a judge. Even if we are not going to be judges - we can at least try to aspire to this standard. Whenever we see others suffering - we get involved and do what we can to help. And then we go further and do more [as Moshe did - he gave their sheep to drink]. Then we ask for nothing.

If we do this we can be great like the greatest man ever!
Bi-ahava rabba,