Illuminations #218, Elul, 5779, Parshat Shoftim

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Illuminations #218, Elul, 5779, Parshat Shoftim

Torah Gems

“You shall not pervert judgment, you shall not respect someone’s presence, and you shall not accept a bribe, for the bribe will blind the eyes of the wise and make just words crooked” (16:19).
 If a poor person thinks that someone is a really wealthy person, this wouldn’t necessarily prove that he is truly wealthy; maybe to the poor person he is rich, but by other standards he is not, says the Chofetz Chaim. However, if a wealthy person tells us someone is truly wealthy, we would believe him. Likewise, continues the Chofetz Chaim, if the Rambam, or Shlomo Hamelech – the wisest of men – would tell us someone is brilliant, we would no doubt take their word for it. So, if Hakadosh Baruch Hu would testify that someone is wise or righteous there would be no doubts about it! The Chofetz Chaim continues to explain that even for the truly genuine chacham or tzaddik, the Torah makes it quite clear that he can definitely be affected if he takes bribes! Many people think that they are above and beyond worry: “No, that will never happen to me; I would never do that; it won’t affect me…” But indeed, the very powerful lesson that we can learn from here is: Don’t be so sure! Therefore the halachah regarding bribes is the same for everyone!

Parsha Pearls

Among the different halachot pertaining to the king of Klal Yisrael is that he must have his own personal Sefer Torah: “It should always be with him, and he shall learn from it all the days of his life” (17:18-20). Rav Gamliel Rabinovitch, shlita, says that we see from here how essential the Torah feels it is that the king learns Torah all the days of his life, even though he is extremely busy and responsible for so many important matters as the ruler of the entire country. How much more so does this apply to us, who are not as occupied as a king of Klal Yisrael. Rav Gamliel, shlita, continues that besides this, look what one who learns gains: “He will have yiras Shamayim, and it will bring him to fulfilling all that is written in the Torah. He will not be haughty, he will perform the mitzvot in the proper way … he will have longevity, and his sons will continue in his ways.”

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Chatzkel Levenstein was summonsed to court to give testimony in a certain case. The judge turned to him in the middle of his testimony and said, “Is it true that you are considered one of the greatest most revered Rabbi’s in your community?” R’ Chatzkel answered that yes it is true. The judge said, “But Rabbi, doesn’t your faith teach you to be humble?” “Yes,” R’ Chatzkel replied, “but I’m under oath, and our faith says we must tell the truth.”

Halacha Weekly

Q. How does one pay a non-Jew for work to be done on Shabbat? [II-17-389]

A. One is not permitted to tell a non-Jew to do work for him on Shabbat. However, there are two ways in which it is possible that a non-Jew can do work in a permissible fashion for a Jew on Shabbat. The details depend on whether the non-Jew is a contractor or a hired worker.  If he is a contractor, how is he to be paid if he may end up doing the work specified on Shabbat?

The Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 244-1) rules that one who comes to an agreement with a non-Jew regarding  a job and pays him money (beforehand ) and the non-Jew does the work for his own reasons [on Shabbat], even though he does the work on Shabbat, it is permitted. Mishneh Berurah  (100-2) writes that since he gives him the money he acts on his own understanding to advance the payment for his work. Since the Jew is not demanding  that the work be done at a certain time, if the non-Jew does not do it that day he will do it the next day. If [however] he fixes for him a time to do the work on Shabbat, then it is forbidden.