Illuminations #87, Elul 5776, Parshat Shoftim

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Illuminations #87, Elul 5776, Parshat Shoftim

Torah Gems

You shall not pervert judgement (Devarim 16:19).
The Ben Ish Hai explains that one of the interpretations of the commandment to create a system of judges and officers is that G-d is actually commanding each person to appoint judges and officers over himself/herself. These judges are one’s brain and heart which should ensure that a person is following the right path.
When we judge ourselves we must be truthful. If a judge is very close to another individual, it is difficult for him to judge him objectively. How much more so does this apply when we judge ourselves. G-d commands us to be honest in our judgement of ourselves and not judge ourselves as being innocent when really we should accept blame.
 That is why it says “you shall not pervert judgment,” meaning, you should not change the judgment from guilty to innocent. The nature of the person is that he does not see his own faults and justifies his actions. This is an error of judgment because a person will simply make it worse for himself. On the contrary, if a person sees a real reason to justify himself and does not rely on it, but judges himself as having transgressed, the court on high will find a reason to dismiss the charges against him.
An example of this is when Samuel,a”h, came to King Saul, a”h. The king justified his actions and was found guilty in heaven. But when King David, a”h, was approached by the prophet Nathan, a”h, even though he had valid grounds to justify himself, he replied, “I have sinned to G-d.”That is why the prophet responded that G-d had forgiven his sin.

Parsha Pearls

And it was told to you and you heard it and you shall investigate it diligently (Devarim 17:4)
Why does the verse say, “And it was told to you and you heard it?” The wording seems superfluous. If a person is told something, we can reasonably assume that he heard it. So why does the Torah say the words, “and you heard it?”
The Alsheikh explains that it comes to teach us that even if one is told that such and such a person is wicked, one must not accept it right away at face value, because perhaps it is simply slanderous talk. One can be concerned that it may not be slanderous talk only when one hears it again a second time, corroborating the original information.
That is why there is an apparent repetition. And, despite that, after hearing it twice you must still investigate it diligently.

Glimpses of Greatness

Harav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul served Hashem with joy and enthusiasm that easily spread, and that penetrated even his halakhic rulings and advice to others. Rav Yehuda Addes said in Hakham Ben Tzion’s eulogy, that more than the purification process of his constant pain and suffering was his purification through his toil in Torah. Hakham Ben Tzion always put special efforts in explaining Rashi,
feeling a special connection to Rashi because he had been born on Rashi’s yahrzeit. “Because of the effort I put into explaining Rashi,” he believed, “he will come greet me when I leave this world.”

Halacha Weekly

Q.  Is One Required to Say The Blessing of Gomel  (For  Escaping Danger) After Flying in An Airplane?

A. There are opinions that one does not say Gomel (the Blessing for escaping Danger) for flying in a plane at all, or if one must does say it, one must not mention G-d’s Name or His kingship in the blessing. Minchat Yitzchak (2-47) (Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss Z”L), explains, “The Sages did not decree the blessing of Gomel except in a case of trouble that comes to a person without his knowledge, like in a case of traveling on the seas and in the desert one says the Blessing of Gomel, which is not the case for flying [in a plane], for  what necessity is there for him to go by plane? It is possible for him to travel by land or by train or by sea on a Ship that does not have such danger.”  He holds that when traveling in a plane one should say the blessing but without mentioning G-d’s Name, or His Kingship.

R. Moshe Feinstein, Z”L, (Igros Moshe, Orech Chaim 4-59) however, holds one should say the blessing mentioning G-d’s Name and Kingship, that is, one should say a proper blessing. It does not matter whether one is traveling over water or over land. He writes, “[Even though] I have heard that there are those that say one does not have to say the blessing (when traveling over land versus the ocean), it is not so, rather one must say the blessing.”  R. Ovadia Yosef, Z”L, (Yabia Omer, 2-14) and Tzitz Eliezer (11-13) (Rav Eliezer Waldenberg Z”L) holds that if one flies from city to city in the same country and the trip is not longer than about an hour or two, it seems one should not make the blessing.  The custom of Sefardim is to say the blessing when the entire trip, including both the flight and transportation by train or car, takes more than an hour and twelve minutes.


לעילוי נשמת יצחק בן נסים ז”ל

Mr. Isaac Habif

From Jeff, Renée, and Leah Nechama Levene