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Sefer Ezra: Part 16 - Was Ezra Really A Sofer?

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Sefer Ezra: Part 16 - Was Ezra Really A Sofer?
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Revach L'Neshama

"This is the text of the letter which King Artachshast gave to Ezra the Kohen, the sofer, the sofar of the mitzvos of Hashem and His laws, about Yisrael."

The Malbim says that the term sofer attributed to Ezra is not associated with safrus. Rather, he was called a sofer because he counted the letters of the Torah- ascertaining that the Torah was recorded precisely and accurately. He also counted the words of all the kisvei kodesh, and corrected any errors. He clarified the oral Torah as well.

Other mefarshim interpret the word sofer as scholar, as Ezra was the ultimate scholar of the Torah.

"Artachshast, king of kings, to Ezra the Kohen, scholar of the Torah of the G-d of, Heaven. At this time. I decree that anyone volunteering in my kingdom to travel to Yerushalayim, from Yisrael, Kohanim and Leviim may escort you."

Coresh's initial decree granting permission to Bnei Yisrael to ascend to Yerushalayim was for the purpose of building the Bais Hamikdash. Now that the Beis Hamikdash had been completed, the decree was no longer binding, and the Jews were not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission. Therefore, Daryavesh now issued a new decree granting permission to Bnei Yisrael to accompany Ezra to Eretz Yisrael.

"You have been sent by the king and his seven advisors for this reason, to test the Jews and Yerushalayim on the Torah of your G-d which is in your hands. And to transfer the silver and gold which the king and his advisors have donated to the G-d of Yisrael, whose dwelling place is in Yerushalayim. And all the silver and gold which you will find in the entire province of Bavel, together with donations which the people and the Kohanim donated to the House of their G-d in Yerushalayim."

There were three classifications of money - 1) The money which the king and his advisors donated. 2) The money which the non-Jews throughout the kingdom donated. 2) The money which Bnei Yisrael donated. Daryavesh appointed Ezra as the agent to transfer the considerable amount of gold and silver to Yerushalayim, and for that purpose, Ezra required the escort of a large group of Bnei Yisrael on his journey to help guard the valuables.

Daryavesh decreed that Bnei Yisrael can use the money for supplies for korbanos, and for whatever else they required for their service of Hashem. He also included in his decree that all the treasurers of the Trans-River should grant Ezra whatever he requests as quickly as possible.

"Everything commanded by the G-d of Heaven shall be fulfilled by the king's seal, for the House of Hashem, for why should anger affect the kingdom and his children?"

The avoidance of Hashem's anger towards his malchus was the motivation for all of Daryavesh's decrees.

"And you, Ezra, according to your chachmas Elokim, greater than the judges and magistrates who judge all the people of the Trans-River, for all those who are knowledgeable in your G-d's Torah -teach those who do now know. And anyone who does not fulfill your G-d's Torah and the king's laws will be swiftly punished -executed, excommunicated, will lose property, or be imprisoned."

Daryavesh granted Ezra the power to appoint judges who will judge the nation according to din Torah, and he granted the judges power to enforce the das of Hashem.

"Blessed is Hashem, the G-d of our fathers, who caused the heart of the king to glorify the House of Hashem in Yerushalayim. And He turned to me the kindness of the king and his advisors, and all of the king's influential officers. And I strengthened myself , with the help of Hashem, my G-d, and I gathered leaders from Yisrael to ascend with me."

Ezra expresses thanksgiving to Hashem for orchestrating the support of the Beis Hamikdash and of him personally, through Daryavesh.

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