Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Shoftim
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Asher Ben Chaim

Parashat Shoftim

Upgrading Yerushalayim


Rabbi Yossef Carmel

For 3,000 years, Yerushalayim has served as the center of the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. Yerushalayim, the Holy City and the City of the Holy Temple, symbolizes the connection with Hashem, and there a Jew can feel a strong connection with the nation as a whole. Many mitzvot are linked directly to it, like the mitzva of eating ma’aser sheni.
So too, in our parasha, the centrality of Yerushalayim appears prominently (although not by name) in the section which deals with the High Rabbinical Court (Beit Din Hagadol), which was located in the Lishkat Hagazit, on the Temple Mount. "Should a matter be unknown to you … you shall get up and go up to the place that Hashem will choose for you … and you shall do according to the thing that they shall tell you from the place that Hashem will choose, and you shall be careful to do as they will instruct you" (Devarim 14:8-10).
All of the Jewish people, wherever they are, are bound by the instructions, rulings, and injunctions of the Beit Din Hagadol. Part of their authority stems from the special location in Yerushalayim, the Divinely appointed place, connected to the Beit Hamikdash.
Many among the nations of the world quote the "Prophecy of World Peace," which is found in the beginning of Sefer Yeshayahu (2:1-4). "The prophecy of Yeshaya … The mountain of the Temple of Hashem will be firmly established … They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; a nation will not lift up a sword against another nation, and they shall no longer study warfare." Some put great emphasis on the element of the end of war and killing in the world, which certainly is contained within the prophecy of Yeshaya. However, if one looks at the p’sukim, he will find a clear linguistic link between the section on the Beit Din Hagadol and the prophecy of Yeshaya. The two sections share at least ten expressions.
This "intentional coincidence" teaches the following lesson. The prophecy about Yerushalayim does not just foretell that it will be a center of world peace. Rather, just as Yerushalayim has been the center of the Torah of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Nation of Israel, so will it be the international center for all those seeking Hashem. All the nations will see in Yerushalayim the place from which one draws spirituality. Many nations will seek their values of justice and morality specifically in Yerushalayim. It is possible that the promise of world peace is actually a reward for this perception by people around the world.
It is interesting to note that for some time, Yerushalayim has been a major religious center for a very large segment of the world’s population. Until now, though, that fact has contributed to it being the focal point for quarrelling and bloodshed. We await the days when all will accept not only its centrality but its proper role as the site of the Beit Hamikdash and the Beit Din Hagadol and the place from which the Torah goes out to the world.
P’ninat Mishpat - Claim that Wife Withheld Information on Medical Condition (excerpts from Piskei Din Rabbani’im VI pp. 193-201)
Case: A husband sued for divorce, claiming that his wife did not inform him prior to marriage that she had suffered from a serious disease in her youth that caused her, besides general poor health, to miscarry repeatedly. In fact, the couple had one successful birth and, subsequently, three successive miscarriages. One expert testified that there is a connection between the disease and the miscarriages, and that the one birth was a medical miracle. Other experts said that one could not make a clear connection between the disease and the repeated miscarriages. The husband demanded that she receive a get, or else he should be allowed to remarry if she continues to refuse one.
Ruling of Court of Appeals: [The original ruling dealt, among other points, with the claim that the husband wanted the divorce because of a relationship with another woman, not for the stated reasons. We will deal with a portion of the Court of Appeal’s ruling on one aspect of the dispute.]
If the wife cannot give birth due to a pre-existing medical condition that the husband was unaware of, the husband can claim that the marriage was a mekach taut (agreement under false pretenses) (Tosafot, Yevamot 65). In this regard, it does not make a difference if the information was purposely withheld or whether the other party was also unaware of the full extent of the problem, and in a case with full grounds for mekach taut, the agreement can be annulled. In this case, the husband admits that some time after the marriage he became aware of the situation, yet continued to live with her (and, thus, did not invoke his claim of mekach taut). However, the fact that he knew about the condition by name does not mean that he knew about the alleged result of barrenness, and we, therefore, do not have evidence that he viewed the actual situation as acceptable.
However, there is logic that the fact that a couple lives together, even if the husband did not reconcile with the situation, prevents him from annulling the marriage later. The Beit Ya’akov (siman 117) explains the Rambam’s ruling that after consummation one cannot annul the marriage, by pointing out that if he nullifies the marriage, then it would turn out that the couple was living in a state of promiscuity. Therefore, we assume that the husband would prefer to allow the marriage to exist and deal later with the circumstances. That logic applies even to this case. On the other hand, it should be possible for the husband to relinquish his rights to claiming mekach taut only in regard to allowing the marriage to stand and avoid "living in sin." However, in regard to being bound by Cherem Rabbeinu Gershom, which forbids his remarriage until she agrees to accept a get, perhaps he can maintain his claim.
In the final analysis, since there are medical opinions that do not link the wife’s difficulty in giving birth to her previous illness and because of the fact that the wife was able to provide the family with at least one child, the husband does not have sufficient grounds to enable remarriage (in addition to other factors dealt with by the regional court).

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