Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 6 No. 18

Parshas Mishpotim

Twisting Justice
(Based on R. Bachye's introduction to the parshah)

"Also these (parables) are for the wise - to favour someone in judgement is not a good thing" (Mishlei 24:23).

Shlomoh ha'Melech arranged his parables from the beginning of the seifer until here for the benefit of fools and young children - because in the opening pesukim (1:4), he wrote that his parables were "to give fools wisdom and children advice".


But now he turns to the wise who sit on the bench of judgement. That is what he means by "also these" etc. - that these parables are meant for the wise, to rebuke them with. And what is the rebuke? That it is not good to favour one of the litigants when judging. It is true that the Torah already warns against this, when it writes in Devorim (1:17) "Do not favour a litigant in judgement". Nevertheless, Shlomoh adds something new to this mitzvah: for the Torah's prohibition does not include a punishment, so Shlomoh adds (in the following possuk) "He who says to the wicked man 'You are righteous!', nations will denounce him, peoples will curse him". Not only has he transgressed the command of G-d, for which he is 'cursed from G-d' - as another possuk in Mishlei (22:14) describes someone whose mouth twists the truth - but he is also cursed by his fellow citizens, because everyone will curse him.

And if this is true of a judge who pronounces a guilty man innocent, how much more so is it true of a judge who pronounces an innocent man guilty. How the people will revile and detest the man who twists justice!


And because the Torah, which depends on the dispensation of justice, opens with the word "Bereishis" (which in turn, begins with the letter 'beis') and concludes with the word "Yisroel" (which ends with the letter 'lamed'), Shlomoh wrote 'bal tov' (instead of 'lo tov', which is grammatically more accurate). He is following in the footsteps of his father Dovid ha'Melech, who wrote in Tehillim (147:20) "u'mishpotim bal yedo'um" - both of these pesukim contain the message that the Torah, which is hinted in the word 'bal', depends upon justice.


It is well known that justice is the basis of the Throne of Glory, as it is written in Tehillim (89:46) "Righteousness and justice are the bases of Your throne". Consequently, those who uphold justice, also uphold G-d's throne. On the other hand, those who pervert justice and impair it, also impair G-d's throne. That is why Shlomoh writes "bal tov", meaning that he will not merit the good that is hidden for the righteous in the World to Come. This conforms with the author's comment (writes ha'Rav Sheval - in his footnotes) in Parshas Yisro, with regard to the ninth commandment of not to swear falsely. He writes there that the ninth commandment corresponds to the ninth planet 'Arvos', which contains the Throne of Glory and the store-house of Souls. Consequently, by testifying falsely, one denies the existence of that location which houses the treasury of Souls. As a result of that, his soul will not return to its source. And the same will apply to someone who perverts justice.

What emerges is that someone who favours a litigant will be punished both in this world and in the next.


Justice is the cause of peace, which is why Yisro concluded his advice to Moshe on how to attain justice - "If you will do this thing, and G-d will command you, then also all this nation will arrive at its destination in peace". And peace is the lynch-pin of the world. That is why justice was handed to the sages, because it is the sages who increase peace in the world. For that reason it is prohibited to take one's case to any law-court other than one over whom the Chachmei Yisroel preside, as the Torah writes "And these are the judgements which you shall put before them" (the sages) - 'but not before ordinary people'.

Parshah Pearls

Adapted from the Chofetz Chaim


It's G-d who deals the stroke

"And he shall pay his doctor's fees" ... (21:19). From here, the Gemoro derives that a doctor is permitted to heal a patient. But why on earth not, you may well ask?

We may have thought, explains Rashi, that when G-d strikes, a doctor has no right to interfere. G-d dealt the blow, and G-d will heal, if He so wishes.

From here it is clear, the Chofetz Chayim observes, that whatever happens to a person, even if it is at the hands of his fellow-man, is decreed from Heaven. For, when all's said and done, the Torah is speaking here about a wound that was inflicted - deliberately - by one man on another, yet Rashi refers to it as 'G-d dealing the blow'. And what's more, the possuk also incorporates pain and embarassment, from which we can deduce that they too, are Divinely inspired. In all of these cases, the Chofetz Chayim explains, one should perceive the person who caused the damage as no more than an agent - albeit a guilty one - as our sages have said 'G-d arranges a guilty deed through a guilty person' etc. (Shabbos 32a). In other words, the recipient deserves what he got, and had the person who did the damage not been available, then G-d would have found another agent to do His bidding.

And this is precisely what Dovid ha'Melech said when Shim'i ben Geiro cursed him and threw stones at him: "G-d told him to curse me", was his response.


All this, G-d does for the benefit of the recipient, in order that his sins will be atoned for through the pain and the shame. Consequently, instead of looking for ways of how to respond to the person who has hurt or insulted oneself, one would do better to thank G-d who found a suitable method to atone for his sins. And that is what Chazal mean when they say in Gittin (36b) 'Those who are shamed but do not shame others (in return) ... about them it is said "And His beloved ones are like the sun when it comes out in its strength" ' (Shoftim 5:31). The sun is mentioned here because it too, heard its shame from the moon (see Rashi Bereishis 1:16) and remained silent.


Do Not Torment a Widow

When the Chofetz Chayim was a young man, it happened once in Radin that a poor widow was unable to pay rent for her rented apartment. The landlord, impervious to her pleas, ordered her to leave, nor did the fact that it was mid-winter and bitterly cold outside make any difference to him. When she refused to leave, he removed the roof of the house, forcing her out into the street.

Everyone was dumbstruck by the man's hard-heartedness. The Chofetz Chayim waited. A number of years went by, and he expressed surprise that nothing had as yet happened to the landlord - for does not the Torah write about someone who torments a widow (or an orphan) "And My anger will burn against them"? (22:23)

It did not take long for the Chofetz Chayim's prediction to materialise. Ten years after the above incident took place, the landlord was bitten by a mad dog. He died soon afterwards.


A Tale of Two Tongues

The Gemoro in Pesochim 118a, commenting on the juxtaposition of the possuk "Lo siso shema shov" (23:1) (a la'av incorporating speaking loshon ho'ra) to that of "la'kelev tashlichun oso" (pertaining to throwing 't'reifah' meat to the dogs), explains that someone who speaks loshon ho'ra, deserves to be thrown to the dogs.

Because the dogs, explains the Maharal, took care, when they were ordered to do so, to guard their tongues from barking (when the first-born were killed in Egypt - Sh'mos 11:7), whereas this human being, whom G-d graced with knowledge and understanding, is unable to control his tongue from saying what it should not, when he is ordered to.


To Help Carry a Burden

The Torah commands us to stop when one sees a donkey straining under its load, and help the owner to unload it or to adjust its load (23:5).

In former times, most donkeys would have been carrying sacks full of sand and bricks for building purposes. Imagine how many more times the mitzvah would become magnified, says the Chofetz Chayim, if the sacks were full of bread, to feed the starving inhabitants of a town that had just been ransacked by robbers. And how many more times still, if the donkey was carrying life-saving drugs for sick patients in hospitalor oxygen for patients with lung problems.

Now let us advance one stage further, says the Chofetz Chayim, and let us imagine that it was not a donkey, but a person staggering under a load of life-saving medicines, for it goes without saying that the mitzvah to help a human being is infinitely greater than that of helping an animal, and how much more so if it is a Jew. It is impossible to assess the extent of the dual mitzvah of alleviating the pain of a Jew and of helping save the lives of the sick - for whom every second counts.

And what if it was not an ordinary Jew who was carrying the load but a Rosh Yeshivah, and the burden that he was carrying on his shoulders was the yoke of Torah - providing life to all his talmidim and to the whole of Klal Yisroel - for without Torah, we are all considered like dead, as the Torah writes in Devorim (30:20) "for it is your life and the length of your days". When a Rosh Yeshivah struggles to build a Yeshivah and to sustain the young men who sit and study Torah day and night, how great is the mitzvah incumbent upon every Jew to support him.

History of the World

( Part 49)

(Adapted from the Seder Ha'doros)


Boruch ben Neriyoh receives the tradition from Yirmiyoh. According to Pirkei de'Rebbi Eliezer, Eved ben Kushi, who saved Yirmiyoh from the pit, is none other than Boruch ben Neriyoh, who will not die, but will enter Gan Eden alive.


G-d shows Yechezkel the vision of the third Beis ha'Mikdosh. Yechezkel dies in Bovel, during the reign of Nevuchadnetzar, somewhere between the River P'ros (Euphrates) and the River K'vor (where he prophesied).


Nevuchadnetzar dies. Eville Merodach succeeds him as King of Bovel. He frees King Yehoyochin from prison (where he has been for thirty-four years), and honours him greatly, raising him above all the other kings who were with him! From now on, Yehoyochin's family will be sustained by Eville Merodach, and Yehoyochin will himself eat at his table. Yehoyochin, together with thirty-five thousand Jews, builds an arch over the grave of Yechezkel and a magnificent complex around it which is called Kenesses Yechezkel ve'Yehoyochin.


Ezra ben Soroyoh receives the tradition from Boruch ben Neriyoh. He is a descendant of Pinchos, and will become head of the Men of the Great Assembly. He is also alias Malachi the prophet. Ezra is an exceptionally modest man, who is worthy that the Torah should be given through him (but Moshe preceded him). He institutes many takonos (institutions and decrees) in Yisroel, among them the ten listed in Bovo Kama (82a). In fact, he is responsible for most of our rabbinical institutions, as well as the basis of the entire tefillah structure.


Eville Merodach dies. He is succeeded by Beltshatzar.


Beltshatzar defeats Daryovesh the Mede and his son-in-law Koresh, King of Persia. During the ensuing celebrations, he takes out the vessels of the Beis ha'Mikdosh, in the vain belief that the seventy years have passed and that G-d will no longer retaliate. A hand appears and writes on the wall "Mene Mene Tekil u'farsin', which Daniel deciphers to mean that his downfall is immiment. The same night, he is killed by a servant who cuts off his head and takes it to Daryovesh and Koresh. They realise that Beltshatzar's death was a Divine punishment for abusing the vessels of the Beis ha'Mikdosh and they swear that, should G-d deliver Bovel into their hands, they will permit the Jews to return to their land to rebuild the Beis ha'Mikdosh.

The very next morning, they attack Bovel and destroy it. The Kingdom of Bovel has lasted sixteen hundred years, from Nimrod until now. Daryovesh is crowned King of Bovel. He places all the other countries (e.g. Persia and Medes) under the jurisdiction of his son-in-law Koresh (who, as a baby, was suckled by a she-dog - in similar vein to Romulus and Remus ['Koresh' in Sursian means 'a dog']). The very same year, when Daryovesh is lying on his death-bed, he calls Koresh and crowns him King of Bovel, too. But he also reminds him of the promise that they made before defeating Bovel.



Achashverosh ascends the throne of Persia.



He makes a huge feast - takes out the vessels from the Beis ha'Mikdosh - Queen Vashti is killed.



Esther becomes queen.



Homon casts lots.


Nisan 13

Homon writes letters.


Nisan 14

Esther proclaims a three-day fast.


Nisan 15

On the third day, Esther enters Achashverosh's throne-room.
First Feast
Homon builds gallows to hang Mordechai.


Nisan 16

King cannot sleep.
Homon finds Mordechai learning the dinim of the Kemitzah (of the Omer).
Homon leads Mordechai round Shushan.
Homon's daughter, throws a bucket of sewage on her father's head.
When she discovers that it is her father, and not Mordechai, she jumps off the roof to her death.
2nd Feast.


Nisan 17

Homon hanged.


Sivan 23

Mordechai sends second letters.



Adar 13
The Jews fast before going into battle.
They defeat their enemies, and kill 75,000, plus 500 in Shushan, as well as the ten sons of Homon, whom they hang.


Adar 14

They finalise the victory in Shushan (where they kill 300 more enemies )


Adar 15

They rest from battle and celebrate the victory.

Esther appoints Mordechai new Prime Minister of Persia.

The Megillah is written. Mordechai and Esther institute Purim.


3406 They celebrate Purim for the first time.
Daryovesh the 2nd (son of Esther and Achashverosh) ascends the throne of Persia - at the age of 7. He is also known as Artachshasta. He rules for thirty-two years.



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