|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
The beginning of the parsha commences with the passuk ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם . The end letters of the words המשפטים אשר תשים ואלה spells backwards the word מרמה which translates as falseness and deceit. The following mamar is an attempt to explain the esoteric meaning of this hinting in this particular passuk.
The Zohar Hakodosh comments on this first passuk that here lie the orders of gilgul – reincarnation. The Baal Shem Tov explains the Zohar’s comment with a parable. A wealthy man was riding on his horse when he came to a river. He got off his horse to drink from the water and unknowingly dropped a purse of money on the ground. After he left another individual came to the same spot and found the purse taking it and leaving. Subsequently, a poor person arrived at the scene and decided to rest there for a few minutes. When the wealthy man realized that he lost the purse while drinking from the river, he returned to the spot. Upon seeing the poor person he assumed that it was him who took his purse and therefore demanded its return. The innocent accused responded with total unawareness and responsibility of the accusation. The wealthy man did not believe him and he began hitting him with his whip. Finally realizing that he was not going to get a confession from the poor person, the wealthy man gave up hope and rode away.
The Baal Shem Tov explained that at first glance the judgment that occurred in this episode seems incorrect and unfair. However, if we truly understood all the events that occurred way before this scenario, then we will realize that every detail screams of truth. For in reality, the wealthy man in a previous life once borrowed money from the second individual, the finder of the money purse. When he was brought to court for his refusal to pay, the judge in the case which was reincarnated in the poor man of the story, favored a prejudiced decision for the defendant. Now with a fresh understanding of the story in the light of what transpired in previous lives, we will realize that the outcome was perfect judgment. The finder of the purse who was the plaintiff received the money that was owed to him by the defendant and the judge who favored wrongly the defendant was beaten up for allowing his favoritism to effect his verdict.
The Baal Shem Tov continues to explain that this issue of gilgulim has a direct meaning with the beginning of the parsha which deals with monetary issues. For instance, if in a court case one was judged guilty even though he knows one hundred percent for sure that he is totally correct and the other litigant is definably lying beyond a shadow of a doubt, he should nevertheless restrain from questionin the passuk that declares that Hashem is present and stands amongst the judges during the passing of the judgment. Well how can that be if the judgment is absolutely not the emes? However the reasoning is just to the opposite. Specifically because Hashem is present during the judgment, is the psak the ultimate emes that only Hashem could make happen. For the true story behind the story is that you unknowingly owed this person that amount of money in a previous lifetime and you never payed. The one who receives the money by presenting a false claim will be punished for that particular act, but not for receiving the money that was really owed to him in a previous gilgul.
Now with the Zohar and the interpretation of the Baal Shem Tov we can understand the hint of the end letters of the first passuk which spells מרמה. The Torah is relating to us that even though on the outside the litigant received your money through deceit, nevertheless the judgment upon you was absolutely truthful. How so? The Zohar answers that when we understand the secret of gilgul we will also understand why the judgment came out the way it did even though it appears to be false.
Yet there is still a deeper meaning to the last letters hinting to mirmah. In Tehillim [24,4] which is also the “shiras hayom” of the first day of the week נקי כפים ובר לבב אשר לא נשא לשוא נפשי ולא נשבע למרמה. That the individual who did not steal and has clarity of heart, who did not carry my soul in vein, and he did not swear falsely will climb the mountain of Hashem and remain there. The mefarshim ask why does the merit of not swearing falsely fit in with the other ones which seem so much more challenging? The answer that is given is that the passuk is not referring to swearing in court but rather to the gemarrah in the end of Niddah that talks about the moment that the neshama descends into this world that it is made to swear that it will be a tzaddik and not a rasha. It is this madraigah and merit that the passuk refers to when it says he did not swear falsely. With this interpretation, the stakes have radically changed for we are now dealing with the essence of life’s all enveloping and never ending challenge.
Hashem desires very much that we should be successful in fulfilling that oath even to the point that He is willing to bring us back into this world many more times in order to “tag up the bases”. This recycling of the neshama is for the purpose to erase the “mirmah” that cleaves to the neshama that has not yet had a virtuous life of avodas Hashem. It is therefore that this word of “mirmah” is hinted in this first passuk of ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים. This message is alluded in the word following these four - לפניהם which is gematriah 216. This is the same gematriah asהוא צדיק . The purpose of the mishpatim is to fulfill the oath and ensure he becomes the tzaddik he swore to be. Just as in the parable of the Baal Shem Tov, we are brought back again and again allowed many chances to rectify all the wrongs we committed and omitted, and make a final closure in the fulfilling of that oath that our neshama took upon itself as it descended into this world.
If Hashem gives everyone another chance to make good and rectify our faults, then following in Hashem’s middos we too should give second and third chances to all those who wronged us, to make up and have shalom dwell amongst Klal Yisrael.
Gut ShabbosRav Brazil