Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Thought & Action

By: Rav Aryeh Hendler
Sgan Rosh Yeshivat Sha'alvim

Introduction: The distinction between judges (shoftim) and the policemen (shotrim) forms the basis of the following passage. The shoftim represent intellectual awareness and inner consent to perform the mitzvoth. The shotrim signify the actual execution of the mitzvoth. This distinction parallels the tracks of Shabbat and mundane days and between the two components of the verse "How great are your works Hashem, so deep are Your thoughts". The order of the verse indicates that internal obedience precedes actual performance.

The passage of the Sefat Emet: Shoftim and shotrim you should place upon yourselves. The shoftim represent intellectual consent and desire (to perform the mitzvoth). The shotrim perfect the actions, for the shotrim (the executive arm of the law) perform the actions according to the directives of the shoftim (the judiciary). This concept applies in all mitzvoth for Chazal have instructed us that the acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven precedes the Yoke of the Mitzvoth (Masechet Berachot 13a). In each mitzvah, the individual must intellectually accept upon himself the Yoke of Heaven prior to the actual performance, as the Holy Zohar states in Parshat Behar. Without the fulfillment of this prerequisite the action is devoid of value. This is the intent of serving Hashem "in all your gates (sha'aryecha)". The gates of the heart can only be opened via the aspects of thought (shoftim) and action (shotrim).

The root of these two aspects are Shabbat and the mundane days (yemot hachol). The Shabbat connotes comprehension and desire. The yemot hachol are the arena of action. For this is the will of Hashem that there is activity for six days and rest on the seventh. As if Shabbat reigns exclusively in the sphere of thought and desire. This is the meaning of the verse "How great are Your works Hashem, how deep are Your thoughts". One comprehends (to a degree) the depth of Hashem's thoughts by intellectually exploring His actions. Thought is deeper than action. The study of Hashem's actions perpetrated during yemot hachol leads one on Shabbat to contemplate the profundity of Hashem's thoughts.

Commentary: The Sefat Emet marshaled the Zohar to expound upon the gemara in Masechet Berachot. The Talmud requires one to initially accept the Yoke of Heaven prior to the Yoke of mitzvoth. The Zohar stresses that the acceptance of the Yoke of Heaven- intellectual submission to the Will of Hashem- must precede the actual performance of every mitzvah. This order of the chapters of Kriat Shema is not merely a general concept; it must be applied to the actual fulfillment of mitzvoth as the Zohar implies. Thus, shoftim-intellectual acceptance, inherently precedes shotrim- physical actions.


Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Shoftim
Uploaded: 9/5/2005 6:39:10 PM