(Haftara: Isaiah 51:12-52:12)
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. [16:20] “Justice, justice, you will pursue…” There are many explanations for the repetition of the word “justice” in this pasuk. Rabbenu Bachya (11th century, Spain) says that it means to be just both in one’s words and in one’s acts. The Ramban explains that there should be justice in this world, and there will also be justice for the tzaddik in the next world. What other explanations might there be for the repetition of the word “justice”?
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. 5. [Month of Elul] We are now in the month of Elul—the month of tshuvah before Rosh Hashana. It has been said that the idea that one can erase one’s sins by regretting them and making tshuvah is not a logical idea. It is a special kindness from Heaven. How is the idea that one can erase one’s sins through tshuvah not logical?
The inner spiritual work has to do with organizing one’s thoughts—which is the essence of a life of focus or meditation—and organizing one’s emotions–which is a life of song and poetry. One must work on the relationship of these qualities so that they can work together in the ways in which they are best balanced with each other, and also work separately.
–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker
And to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer