Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Shoftim

The following is a brief summary of a thought said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce this vort to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In this week's parsha, the Torah discusses the exemptions which are available for men who are unable to serve in the army engaged in a milchemes reshus (voluntary war). As enumerated in Devarim 20:5-8, the exceptions include a man who has built a new house but has not begun to live in it, a man who has planted a new vineyard but has not yet brought bikkurim from it or a man who has recently become engaged and has not yet married his wife. The final exemption listed is for a man who is afraid of battle. After the above exemptions have been read to the group of potential soldiers, those with an excuse were permitted to leave.

R' Frand quoted a mishna in Sotah 44a which discusses a dispute between R' Akiva and R' Yosi Haglili in relation to the "fear" exemptions. R' Akiva stated that the fear exemption is for one who is afraid of going to war. R' Yosi Haglili said that the exemption is for one who is afraid of potentially being killed in battle as punishment for the sins he has committed. R' Yosi further explained that the reason for the other exceptions is solely to protect this type of person from embarrassment. Indeed, there is no logical explanation for the draft exemption status of one of who built a new house or planted a new vineyard. As R' Yosi explains, the Torah added these categories to protect the man who was afraid of punishment so that it will not be obvious why he is not going to battle.

R' Frand then quoted the Tolner Rebbi who linked this dispute to another seemingly unconnected argument. The gemara in Gittin discusses a dispute as to the acceptable reasons for divorce. Beis Shammai stated that the only reason a divorce may be given is if the wife committed adultery. Beis Hillel stated that a man may divorce his wife for any reason, even if it is because she burned the soup.

R' Frand quoted a R' Moskowitz who asked why Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel had taken positions contrary to their usual methods (wherein Beis Shammai was usually machmir and Beis Hillel was usually meikil).

R' Frand answered this question by quoting a R' Taub who was a Modzitz Chassid (there was a longer name but I did not get it). R' Frand explained that if the only permitted ground for divorce was adultery, a divorced woman would never be able to get remarried as she would be forever branded an adulteress, regardless of her acts of teshuva. By allowing a husband to give a divorce for more mundane reasons, the woman is no longer pigeonholed as an adulteress and she stands a better chance of getting remarried, since the general public will not assume that she has committed any terrible act. As such, Beis Hillel's actions protect the woman's dignity and are in reality more maykil than Beis Shammai.

R' Frand closed the vort by stating that we should take a lesson from these two scenarios and be more cognizant of other people's dignity when he act or speak about them.

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