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PARASHAT MISHPATIM
Haftarah: Melachim II 11:17 - 12:17

FEBRUARY 13-14, 2015 25 SHEBAT 5775

RABBIS' MESSAGES

"Distance yourself from a false word." (Shemot 23:7)

We are commanded to distance ourselves from a lie. What is the reason for this? As an opener we understand this in the following manner. We know there are certain instances where the Torah wants us to lie. For instance, for the sake of peace, it is permitted and recommended to lie. There are also other situations where this is true. Therefore, to counter a possible laxity in this regard, the Torah gives a specific command not to tolerate falsehood.

But a further explanation is necessary. Many of us think that lying is a problem only when this causes a damage or a hurt to someone else. But, if someone asks you your name and nobody knows you and you say your name is Joe but your name is really Sam, that's not a problem, because who cares what your real name is? Nobody! So if you don't want anyone to know your real name it is not a problem. This is the basic view of truth and falsehood.

However, this is a fundamental mistake. For even if there isn't anyone in the world who cares what your name is, when a falsehood is said it ruins the world! The mere existence of a lie contradicts the existence of the world, which is based on truth. It is quite common amongst public speakers to "mis-speak" in order to change the impression of the listener. But this is very wrong.

It has been told that the Hafess Hayim would get very upset if someone would ask what time it is and the person would begin to respond, "I think it's around" He would get upset at those words. "Either say what time it is or say I don't know!" The person who hears this doesn't understand. "Am I responsible for what time it is? For the person who asked, it's enough to know that it's around five o'clock. What difference does it make if it's really five after five?" The person doesn't understand that at five o'clock the stars and the planets are at a certain location and at five minutes later this all changes. Hashem's creation, our universe, is exact and based on truth.

Truth is the essence of the world and the reality of the entire creation. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And these are the laws that you shall place before them" (Shemot 21:1)

From the word ovhb?p?k, before them, Rashi tells us that we must bring disputes before our court system; that is, one must go to Bet Din rather than go to secular courts. This is indeed the halachah that we may not go to a secular court to adjudicate a case between two Jews. It may seem to us that this would only apply when the power of Bet Din was absolute, like in the old days, whereas nowadays, when Bet Din is limited in enforcing its laws, we should not have to go to Bet Din. This is incorrect. We must always go to Bet Din first and only when Bet Din allows us to go to civil courts do we have the right to do so. It is considered a Hilul Hashem and a denigration of the Torah if we go to civil courts rather than Bet Din. Today, most civil courts recognize any agreement which was worked out in Bet Din, and will uphold it without having to reopen the case, which makes going to Bet Din more advantageous. We should hopefully never have to go to court for any reason, but if it ever becomes necessary, we would be doing a great misvah by following the halachah and going to Jewish courts. We will be upholding the Torah and making a Kiddush Hashem, sanctifying the Name of Hashem, which is certain to impact favorably on the outcome of the case. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

* * * * *

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Please pass this message along. Tizku L'misvot.


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