The Weekly Shtikle Blog

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Friday, August 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Shofetim

The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.


The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.


This week, we sent off our oldest son, Efrayim, to learn in Eretz Yisrael. I thought it would be apropos to include an insightful observation from him from 8 years ago.


In a book of meshalim on the parsha, it is told that a group of maskilim once produced a satirical play about a Jewish army that was led to war according to the guidelines spelled out in this week's parsha (20:5-8). The officer first announced that anyone who recently built a new house should return, upon which a thousand men got up and left the battlefield. The same occurred after the following announcements regarding having planted a vineyard or having recently betrothed a future wife. In the end, only the Vilna Gaon and the Sha'agas Aryeh remained.


The Brisker Rav, upon hearing of this production, commented that it was completely accurate, only that they left out the most important part - that they still win the war!


Efrayim took issue with the way the process was related in the play, based on the mishnah (Sotah 8:5) quoted by Rashi. There is a dispute over the term yarei verach haleivav. Rabbi Akiva asserts that it is understood literally as someone who is fearful of combat. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili, however, maintains that it refers to someone who is fearful based on his transgressions that he will not merit to survive the war. He goes on to explain that this is the actual reason the Torah included the other exceptions, to save the fearful one from embarrassment as no one will know exactly why he is leaving the battlefield. Efrayim objected that in order for this arrangement to work, it would be futile to dismiss each group after each announcement. Clearly, they must have made all four declarations at once at which point all those subject to exemptions would leave together, thus concealing those who left because of their sins.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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