(Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

(Haftara: Isaiah 51:12-52:12)

(Pirkay Avot Chapter 1)

1. [16:18] “Judges and police shall you put… for your tribes…”   The Ramban (1194-1270, Spain) suggests that if there are 2 tribes in one place, then each tribe should be judged by its own judges. Why should each tribe be judged by its own judges? Isn’t justice better served by judges who have no tribal affiliation?  

2. [16:19] “…don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous”. It is unusual for the Torah to tell us the reasons for the commandments. Why are there reasons here for not taking bribes?

3. [17:14] “..and you will say, “I will put over myself a king like all the nations…” The king, apparently, is the political leader, and the High Priest is the religious leader. Wouldn’t it unify the nation more to have one person as both the religious and the political leader? Why didn’t the Torah command one leader

4. [Haftara: Isaiah52:7] “How beautiful…are the feet of the messenger of good news, that announces peace…” The prophets put a lot of emphasis on the announcer of the “golden era”, and on looking forward to the redemption. What is so special about this period of time? Why is looking forward to the redemption emphasized?

5. [Pirkay Avot 1:15] “…receive every person with a pleasant face” . R. Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821, Lithuania)says that one should be pleasant with everyone because maybe that other person has accomplished more that he himself did in matters of holiness. Do you agree with R. Chaim’s reason for being pleasant to everyone? Why or why not?

Commentary

Tshuvah is the healthiest feeling of the soul. A healthy soul in a healthy body inevitably comes to the great happiness of Tshuvah. One feels the greatest natural delight in Teshuvah. The elimination of all bad spiritual influences must come when one is both spiritually and physically healthy.

-R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer