by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS MISHPOTIM 5759
Ch. 21, v. 1: "V'eileh hamishpotim" - Rashi says (Mechilta) that the laws of money matters were juxtaposed to the Ten Commandments, to teach us that just as the Ten Commandments were given at Har Sinai, so were the laws of money matters given at Har Sinai. Since all of the Torah was given at Har Sinai, why in relation to money matters specifically was this pointed out? There is a greater danger for one to think that the laws pertaining to money matters were made up by Moshe, since common sense dictates the vast majority of these laws, and they are needed for the smooth functioning of society (Trumas Hadeshen). However, the Torah tells us that these laws were also given at Mt. Sinai by Hashem, and there is depth in these laws beyond our comprehension. Even though non-Jews also legislate logical laws regarding money matters, the Torah's laws are elevated above and beyond man-made laws, as it says in T'hillim 147:20, "Lo oso chein l'chol goy u'mishpotim bal y'do'um."
Ch. 21, v. 2: "U'vashviis yeitzei lachofshi chinom" - The Yerushalmi Rosh Hashono 3:5 says that this law of releasing slaves was already told to the bnei Yisroel in Egypt. This is indicated in the words (6:13) "va'y'tza'veim el bnei Yisroel." Why was this told to them at that time? It was totally irrelevant since they themselves were slaves and not masters over slaves. In order for the bnei Yisroel to merit being released from bondage, they had to demonstrate their commitment to treat their own slaves properly, when they would be in the position of masters. Although this had no practical relevance at the time, their studying these laws and COMMITTING themselves to fulfill them properly brought them this merit. (Maharil Diskin)
Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'hefdoh" - Rashi brings the gemara Kedushin 14b which says that the master helps in the redemption of the minor maid-servant by receiving pro-rated payment for the remaining time of servitude. In what way is the master being helpful, since he is receiving a pro-rated refund? Rabbi Yaakov of Orleans answers that since the maid-servant is a minor, the master is helping by accepting an equal payment per year even though her value increases in the latter years. In the earliest years she is a baby and of no help. As she gets older, she can be more and more helpful.
Ch. 21, v. 24: "Ayin tachas ayin" - The gemara B.K. 84a brings numerous proofs that this means payment for the damage and not literally "an eye for an eye." The GR"A says that the words of the verse actually allude to this. "AYIN," the letters Ayin, Yud, and Nun are "tachas," below, the punishment for damaging an eye. The three letters ahead of Ayin, Yud, and Nun are Pei, Kof, and Samech, which spell KeSeF, money.
Ch. 21, v. 26,27: "Ein avdo, shein avdo" - There are actually 24 organs of a slave, which if destroyed, bring the slave freedom. Why then are these two specific examples given? The M.R. Breishis 36:8 quotes Rabbi Yaakov bar Zavdi who says that the institution of slavery in the world, the curse given by Noach to Canaan, came about through the eye and the mouth, "Va'yar Chom ...... va'ya'geid (Breishis 9:22)."
Ch. 21, v. 29: "Nagoch hu mitmol shilshom" - The Torah differentiates between an ox that gores occasionally, a "tam," and one that has done so three times and becomes a confirmed gorer, a "mu'od." Unfortunately, we look at these laws as something archaic and not pragmatic, not even to those living on farms. (I was once butted by a goat as a child at a neighbour's home across the street from our farm.) Here is a true story which shows a very practical application of these laws.
A woman came to the Rogatchover Gaon, Rabbi Yosef Rosen, with a very serious problem. She was nursing her infant and recently the infant had refused to nurse on Shabbos day. This had gone on for a number of weeks, and was of great concern to the mother. He advised her to wear her weekday clothes rather than her Shabbos finery and said that this would alleviate the problem.
With blind faith, she followed his advice, and wonder of wonders, the child nursed as the Gaon had predicted. Upon enquiring from the Gaon as to what magic he wrought, he responded that this was actually a gemara Yerushalmi B.K 4:2. The Mishneh says that even if an ox has the status of "mu'od," a confirmed gorer, if this only took place on Shabbos, and now the ox gored once or twice on a weekday, for the weekdays the ox is but a "tam," an occasional gorer. The Yerushalmi explains that on Shabbos people wear cleaner, different looking clothes than on weekdays ,and their unique Shabbos apparel might bring out an instinct to gore. This does not affect the ox's weekday status.
Likewise, reasoned the Gaon, the child saw his mother dressed in different clothing on Shabbos (possibly feeling that this was a different person) and would not nurse.
Ch.21, v. 30: "IM kofer yushas olov" - Rashi near the end of parshas Yisro (20:22) brings a Mechilta in the name of Rabbi Yishmoel, that "IM" always means "IF, R'SHUS," except for the following three places, which are all requirements: 1) IM mizbach avonim ta'a'seh li (20:22) 2) IM kesef talveh es ami (22:24) 3) IM takriv minchas bikurim (Vayikro 2:14). In these three places, IM means "when you will do," a requirement. Rashi on our verse says that this "IM" is not "IF, TOLUY," dependant upon one's choice, but rather a must, as "Im kesef talveh." This Rashi seems to contradict the Mechilta he himself quoted in 20:22 and 22:24, that there are only three places that "IM" means "as you will do."
The Baalei Tosfos answer that the basic meaning of "IM" is "IF, voluntary." Rabbi Yishmoel lists the only three places where it is a requirement by virtue of a mitzvoh to do, to build an altar, to lend money, to bring a korban Minchas ho'Omer. Rashi is saying in 21:30 that the atonement payment of our verse is required and not optional. In that way, it is similar to 22:24. However, it is not a mitzvoh requirement. On the contrary, one is required to guard his animals from damaging or inflicting injury on another person or his property. We now have three types of "IM," IF, a MUST which is not a mitzvoh, and a MUST which is a mitzvoh. This also answers the question of Bmidbar 36:4, "IM y'h'yeh ha'yovel." This is not optional, "IF Yovel will come," but rather a definite happening. Once again, this "IM" is not in Rabbi Yishmoel's list, as Yovel's coming is not a mitzvoh to be done, but it is also not optional.
It would seem that Rashi carefully forewarns the point made by the Baalei Tosfos. When he quotes Rabbi Yishmoel, he says that the three exceptions are not "RSHUS." Similarly in Vayikro 2:14, he says that bringing the Omer offering is not a "RSHUS." The opposite of "RSHUS" is a mitzvoh. However, in our verse where "kofer" is a must but not a mitzvoh, Rashi says this "IM" is not "TOLUY," not hanging on one's decision, as it is a required payment. The opposite of "TOLUY" is "va'dei," definite. One MUST pay, but it is not a mitzvoh to bring oneself to this situation.
Ch.21, v. 32: "Shloshim shkolim" - The Torah equates a male Canaani servant to a woman, in relation to many halochos. A person is at the prime of his strength between twenty and fifty. A woman who is appraised with the Arochin system (Vayikro 27:4) is given a flat rate value of thirty shkolim when between twenty and fifty years of age. Similarly, the Torah gives the same 30 shkolim flat rate value to the Canaanite slave killed by an ox. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
Ch. 22, v. 7: "V'nikrav baal habayis el ho'Elokim" - The Holy Admor of Kotzk interprets, "And a 'baal habayis," a working man, can come close to Hashem," by virtue of, "asher lo sholach yodo bimleches rei'eihu," his not having placed his hand dishonestly into his friend's property.
Ch. 22, v. 8: "Al SALMOH" - The Meshech Chochmoh differentiates between two words, "simloh" and "salmoh," both meaning a garment. He says that "simloh" is used to indicate a garment of quality, while "salmoh" is used to indicate an inferior garment. In Rus 3:3 we learn from the words, "v'samt SIMLOsayich," that one should wear special clothing for Shabbos and Yom Tov. Similarly, when the bnei Yisroel took garments from the Egyptians, they took top quality garments only, as it says (12:35) "u'SMOLOS." Rashi points out that the order of the items listed, vessels of silver, of gold, and garments, ascends in order of importance.
However, in our verse where a person is required to swear that he had not been negligent in the loss of items given to him for safekeeping, an oath is required even for a missing garment of little value.
I found a medrash which says that the word "salmoh" is used for a garment that has a design on it, similar to the word "tzelem," a form. Phonetically "tzelem" and "salmoh" are similar.
Ch. 22, v. 13: "V'nishbar o meis" - Why was the "nishboh, seized," possibility not mentioned, as it is mentioned in verse 9, when discussing the laws of the paid guard? Our verse is discussing a borrower. The gemara B.M. 96b says that we derive from our verse that although the borrower is responsible for all losses, this does not apply in situations where the borrowed animal was damaged or died in the normal course of its intended use. Since being "seized" is not a result of the normal usage of the animal by the borrower, it is not mentioned here. (Trumas Hadeshen)
Ch. 22, v. 22: "KI IM tzo'ok yitzak eilai - IF ONLY he will cry out to me" - The Ramban asks, "What is meant by "KI IM?" The K'hilas Yitzchok answers in the name of Rabbi Mordechai of Pinsk with a gemara B.B. 16a. Rabbi Levi said that P'ninoh had noble intentions in aggravating Chana. Emphasizing that Chana had no children would bring Chana to praying more fervently to Hashem. In spite of P'ninoh's noble intentions, she was punished by having most of her children die in her lifetime. This is alluded to in our verse. "Do not cause anguish to ANY widow or orphan." Rashi says that this includes anyone. This applies especially to a person who has a broken spirit. "KI IM," EVEN IF your only intention in making them suffer is, "TZO'OK YITZAK EILAI," that they should cry out to Me more fervently in prayer, and that I should hearken to their voice, (v. 23) "V'choro api," and My anger will burn, and you will be punished in spite of your good intentions.
Ch. 22, v. 28: "V'dimacho" - Rashi says he doesn't know why this word is used for the tithing of produce. The Rosh and Chizkuni explain that "dimacho," which literally means "your tear drop," refers to olive oil. Just as a tear is a clear, flowing liquid, so is pure olive oil.
Ch. 22, v. 30: "U'vosor BASO'DEH treifoh" - The law of "treifoh" is not limited to the field. Rashi says that it is a common occurrence for an animal to be torn asunder in a field. This is one of four places in our parsha where Rashi says that the specifics of a verse are not limited to that case only, but a common occurrence is used as an example, "dibeir hakosuv b'hoveh." Rashi brings two proofs for this concept, from Dvorim 22:27 and 23:11.
The other three places are:
1) 21:28, "V'chi yigach SHOR," not only an ox, but any animal, etc.
2) 22:17, "M'cha'sheifoh lo s'cha'yeh," not only a female witch, but a male as well.
3) "Kol almonoh v'yosom lo s'anun," not only a widow and an orphan, but anyone.
Why does Rashi not bring a proof for "dibeir hakosuv b'hoveh" at the earliest
I AWAIT YOUR RESPONSE.
Ch. 22, v. 30: "La'kelev tashlichun oso" - The Daas Z'keinim says that the Torah teaches us a very important moral lesson here. It was common to have dogs as guards against animal marauders such as wolves and lions. When a person finds his cattle killed by a wild animal, his first reaction is to be upset with his dog for not having fended off the wild animals. The Torah says to react in the opposite manner. Specifically at the time that one finds his cattle killed, he should appreciate all the times that he found all in order. No doubt his dog had risked its life previously when successfully protecting the livestock.
The practical application to members of our family and community is obvious. When feeling disappointed with the performance of a family or community member, appreciate all the previous times things were done properly.
Ch. 23, v. 5: "Chamor sona'acho" - The gemara P'sochim 113b refers to the gemara B.M. 32b which tells us that if you are faced with the situation of having two people who need your help, one, a friend with a donkey to unload, and one, an enemy with a donkey to load, although normally unloading comes first since it alleviates the pain of a living creature, in this case you should first help your enemy load. The reason is, that since the one needing help with loading is your enemy, the advantage of having you help an enemy and go against your nature, takes precedence over alleviating an animal's pain earlier.
The gemara asks, "How does one have an enemy? Isn't it forbidden to hate your fellow Yid?" The gemara answers that if a Jew flagrantly transgresses the mitzvos of the Torah, one should hate him, as stated in T'hilim 139:21. Tosfos d.h. "she'ro'oh" asks, "Since the hatred that is felt towards the transgressor is not genuine, but rather an attitude towards him, so as to fulfill the dictate of T'hilim 139:21, how does one fight his negative nature of hating a fellow Jew since there is no true hatred in his heart? This is how I was taught this Tosfos's question by MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt'l. (Some people explain Tosfos's question as follows: Why should one fight his negative nature in this case, since it is a mitzvoh to hate a transgressor? This is incorrect, as the answer of Tosfos would not follow through logically.) Tosfos answers that once you act with hatred towards another, even if put on, he will in turn act towards you with TRUE hatred, as per the dictum of Mishlei 27:19, "Kamayim haponim laponim kein leiv ho'odom lo'odom." In turn, you will TRULY hate him, and it is this hatred that you will work on by helping him load his animal.
Ch. 24, v. 6: "Chatzi hadam" - Rashi says that an angel split the amount of blood EXACTLY in half. The Daas Z'keinim and the Rosh ask from the gemara Eruvin 15b and Chulin 28b which states that it is possible for a person to divide something exactly in half. If so, why was an angel needed? They answer that this is only possible when the whole object is in front of a person. Here, some of the blood had left the slaughtered animal and some was still inside. One is not able to collect exactly half the blood of the animal when the remainder of the blood is within the animal.
Ch. 24, v. 7: "Seifer habris" - Rashi (Mechilta 19:10) says that this "seifer" contained the complete narrative from Breishis until the giving of the Torah. The Daas Z'keinim and the Rosh ask from the opinion in the gemara Gittin 60a that the Torah was not written bit by bit, as the laws were told to Moshe, but rather, "Torah chasumoh nitnoh," the Torah was written in its entirety, once all of its text was told to Moshe. If so, how could there be a "seifer habris," a written text? They answer that the opinion that "Torah chasumoh nitnoh," is only from this point onwards. Everyone agrees that the text until Matan Torah was permitted to be committed to text.
ANSWER TO LAST WEEK'S QUESTION:
How did the bnei Yisroel respond to the positive and negative commandments of "Zochor" and "Shomor" which were said simultaneously?
The medrash says that since two different words emanated from the heavens at once, there was a concern that the bnei Yisroel might have thought that there are chas v'sholom two authorities. They responded with the words, "HASHEM ECHOD." This is the meaning of the stanza in our Shabbos zmiros of "Yonoh motzoh vo mono'ach - U'vo'u chulom bivris yachad, naa'se v'nishma omru k'echod (at the time of receiving the Torah), u'fos'chu v'omru HASHEM ECHOD."
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