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

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Vol. 9   No. 18

This issue is sponsored
with wishes for a Refuah Shleimah to
ha'Rav Ze'ev Ya'akov Moshe ben Chayah n.y.

Parshas Mishpatim

(Part II)

Yisro was also called Chovav because he loved the Torah and Re'uel (according to some), because he was G-d's friend. These names speak for themselves. They also give us some idea of what gave Yisro the impetus to relinquish everything that he had previously considered sacrosanct, despite the dire consequences for himself and his family. And they indicate from where he got his drive to leave the comfort of his home, in spite of his advanced age, to join Yisrael at Har Sinai, in order to hear words of Torah.


He was also called Yeser, because he enjoyed the rare distinction of adding a Parshah to the Torah. That Parshah, comprising constructive critisicm of Moshe's method of judging, was borne of experience and wisdom, and convinced Moshe to act on it, not only because of its inherent brilliance, but also because of the respectful way in which it was presented. The point he was making was undeniably valid, yet he added the words "if G-d commands you to do so". There are many people who force their views on others, behaving as if they were the ultimate authority. But Yisro was did not belong to that school. He had a strong personality, with strong views, indeed he was a world leader, yet he knew his place. Yes, he realized that G-d was in charge of the Camp of Yisrael, and it was G-d who would make the final decision on this matter, as in all matters.


There are few people in history who wielded the influence over world events to the extent that Yisro did, and he played out his role with dignity and honor. His counsel was constantly sought, and whenever it was offered, it was sound and to the point. Unlike his colleague Bil'am, there was no spite, no malice, and above all, no prejudice, in his advice. Like his son-in-law Moshe, Yisro was a proponent of justice and fair-play, which marked most of the recorded episodes concerning him. Nor was he afraid to speak his mind when he saw justice and fair play being compromised.


Another of Yisro's characteristics was common-sense, which also prompted most of his decisions. Chazal tell us for example, that when Moshe gathered his wife Tziporah and sons to take them to Egypt, Yisro asked him where he was taking them. And when Moshe replied that he was taking them to Egypt, Yisro objected. If those who were already in Egypt could not wait to leave, what sense did it make to lead newcomers into the lion's den. And it was only after Moshe reassured him that G-d was about to redeem Yisrael from Egypt, and that in a short time, they would stand at Har Sinai, and hear from Him "I am Hashem your G-d", that he gave Moshe his blessing and said 'Go in peace!'


One can gauge the extent of a person's convictions by his willingness to share his knowledge of the truth with others less fortunate than himself. We can learn this from Avraham who went out of his way to teach monotheism to whomever he came into contact, as opposed to No'ach (the Tzadik in peltz), who exerted himself to save only himself. And here too, we can learn much about Yisro, who in spite of his advanced age, returned from Har Sinai to Midyan, solely to convert his family. If Judaism was good for him, he reckoned, it was also good for the rest of his family. This is was Rashi teaches us. The Mechilta goes still further, when it writes that Yisro actually returned to Midyan in order to convert all his countrymen, and what's more, it concludes, he succeeded (though it is unclear what this means).


Considering that the legacy that Yisro left us concerns judges and law-suits, it hardly seems surprising that his descendents merited to become members of the Sanhedrin, and to sit in the Lishkas ha'Gazis. Yet, Chazal give three different reasons for this merit. The Gemara in Sotah (11a) ascribes it to Yisro's having fled, when, at the decree of "Hovoh nischakmoh lo" he saw Par'oh on the verge of going ahead with the decree.

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (104a) attributes it to "K'ren lo ve'yochal lechem" (the Midas ha'Chesed that he displayed when he instructed his daughters to invite Moshe into the house for a meal). Whereas the Zohar relates how Yisro's sons, hounded by the entire community for having converted, went to the desert to study Torah. And when G-d saw how eager they were to learn Torah, He drew them from the desert and brought them to the Lishkas ha'Gazis. (to be continued)


Parshah Pearls

(adapted from the P'ninim mi'Shulchan ha'Gro)
Visiting the Doctor

"Ve'rapo yerapei (and he shall surely cure)" 21:19.

The Gemara in Bava Kama (85a) learns from here that a doctor is permitted to cure a sick person. Nothing is said, points out the G'ro, about the patient visiting the doctor. That is because a Jew is obligated to trust in G-d and not in the doctor. Consequently, he explains, someone who does go to the doctor when he is sick, is guilty of a lack of bitachon. The Torah does not however, forbid it, and despite the patient's lack of faith, G-d, in His abundant mercy, hands over the means of healing the patient to the doctor, to do the job in His place.

(Clearly, writes the author, the G'ro is referring to someone who has reached the highest levels of faith, and not to the man in the street).


One should take note that, even someone who does visit a doctor, should place his trust in G-d and not in the doctor, because, as we just intimated, the doctor in any event, is only a sheli'ach of G-d, and no more.


Give Him Your Money, Not Your Eye

"Ayin tachas ayin (an eye instead of an eye)" 21:24.

The Gemara in Bava Kama (83b) emphasises that it is not an eye that Reuven has to pay for knocking out Shimon's eye, but its value.

According to the G'ro, this is inherent in the Torah's words "Ayin tachas ayin", in place of "Ayin be'ad ayin".

In fact, the word "tachas" itself serves as a subtle hint to the halachah, he explains. How is that? Because if we translate it literally as 'below', then the Torah is telling us to take the letters below the 'Ayin', the 'Yud' and the 'Nun' (that spell "Ayin"), and to pay the result to the stricken man. Now the letters below (i.e. that follow) 'Ayin', 'Yud' and 'Nun' in the 'Alef Beis' are 'Pey', Kaf' and Samech' - which spell 'Kesef'.


An Eye and a Tooth

" ... send him out to freedom for his eye. And if he knocks out his slave's tooth, send him out to freedom for his tooth" (21:26/27).

The Gemara in B'rachos (5a) comments that suffering cleanses a person from his sins (and spares him from further punishment). And it derives this from a 'Kal va'Chomer'. If a slave goes out to freedom for the loss of a tooth and an eye, which is only one limb, then how much more so will suffering, which affects the entire body, relieve a person from further punishment for his sins. Why, asks the G'ro, does the Gemara need to mention 'a tooth and an eye', when it is speaking about only one limb? Surely either a tooth or an eye would have sufficed (or it could simply have written 'a tooth or an eye' [rather then ' ... and an eye'])?


The G'ro answers this by looking at the source of the Halachah. Why does the Torah specifically mention "tooth" and "eye"? Because, he explains, the decree of slavery issued against Cham was the result of seeing his father naked, and then telling his brothers about it; the one with his eyes, the other, with his teeth (where speech culminates). Consequently, when his master knocks out the source of his initial sin, his atonement is complete, and no further atonement (in the form of slavery) is necessary.

Strictly speaking, it should have been both the tooth and the eye that would have needed to be knocked out in order to effect his atonement, However, G-d in his unlimited mercy, accepted just one of them.

The 'Kal va'Chomer' now reads that if a slave, who really ought to have both his tooth and his eye removed before going free, yet G-d in His mercy, accepts only one as an atonement; then someone whose entire body suffers, certainly earns an absolute atonement. Now it is clear why the Torah chose to mention both the tooth and the eye.


Asking For It

"If you lend My people money, the poor man with you" (22:24).

There are three people, says the Gemara in Bava Metzi'a, whose cries Hashem ignores. One of these, is someone who lends a fellow-Jew money without enlisting witnesses. Lending money requires witnesses, to prevent the borrower from denying the loan, when the lender claims his money. Not so Tzedakah, which should be given discreetly, in a way that nobody knows about it, as the Pasuk writes in Mishlei (21:14) "Giving secretly smothers anger".


And this distinction is hinted in the words of the current Pasuk: "If you lend money", the Torah is hinting, then - "My people" (other Jews should be present). But "(what you give to) a poor man - with you (it should be between him and you, with nobody else present)".


Throwing it to the Dogs

"And flesh in the field that is torn (treifah), you shall throw it to the dogs" (22:30).

The Gemara Darshens in Pesachim (22a) "you shall throw it to the dogs", "it" - but not Chulin that was Shechted in the Courtyard of the Beis-Hamikdash.


There is no apparent connection between t'reifah on the one hand, and Chulin that was Shechted in the Azarah, on the other, and it therefore seems strange that Chazal extrapolate the latter from the former.

To explain the cinnection, the G'ro therefore cites the Gemara in Makos (18a). The Gemara explains that "t'reifah" in this context actually refers to meat of Kodshim that left the Temple-Courtyard, and that the Pasuk is coming to permit throwing it to the dogs. It therefore stands to reason that the word "it" should exclude Chulin that was Shechted in the Courtyard of the Beis-Hamikdash (the exact opposite) from the concession.


Avraham's Level of Eating

"And Moshe and Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and the seventy elders of Yisrael ascended (Har Sinai). And they saw G-d ... and they ate and drank" (24:9-11).

The Maseches Sofrim, explains that the Pasuk in Yehoshua (14:15)"the great man among the giants", is referring to Avraham Avinu, whose eating and drinking corresponded to that of seventy-four men. Needless to say, this Medrash is, at first sight, a p'li'ah (incomprehensible) - until we read the current Pasuk. What the Tana clearly means is that Avraham ate in such a way, that he reached the level of the seventy-four men mentioned in the Pasuk, who, having just beheld G-d, must have eaten with the highest level of devotion imaginable.

(Incidentally, this Medrash does not follow the opinion that the elders sinned here, as others explain. See Rashi, Pasuk 11).


Alternatively, the Medrash refers to Avraham's level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh.

In explaining this, the G'ro cites the Pasuk further on (29:33) "And those who are atoned for by them shall eat it", which Chazal in Pesachim (59b) explain to mean that when the Kohanim eat Kodshim, the owner is atoned for. This in turn, refers to the Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that the Kohanim attained whenever they ate Kodshim. And the level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh was determined by the level of the Korban (e.g. if it was Kodesh Kodshim rather than Kodshim Kalim, or a Korban Tzibur rather than a Korban Yachid, then their level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh rose accordingly).

And that is precisely what happened here. Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and the seventy elders reached the highest levels of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, because they had just partaken from meat that was both Kodesh Kodshim and of a Korban Tzibur. And that is the level of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that Avraham Avinu attained whenever he ate.



(Si'man 8) Rosh Hashanah for Ma'aser,
and the Stages of Ripening of the Various Fruits

6. The subsequent years (determining whether one separates Ma'aser Sheini or Ma'aser Ani) for the fruit of the ground begins on the first of Tishri, and for fruit of the tree, on the fifteenth of Sh'vat. It is not the separation of Ma'asros on those dates that determines which Ma'aser must be separated, but various stages of ripening. The stages are as follows:

For produce, legumes olives and grapes - one third of their growth. This means that if any of these grew a third of its total growth before Rosh Hashanah, then it follows the year that just passed; whereas if it only reached that stage after Rosh Hashanah, then it follows the next year.

For fruit of the tree - it is Chanotoh, which is equivalent to a third of the fruit's growth, though some say that it is the stage that the fruit becomes recognizable.

For rice, millet, poppy-seeds and sesame-seeds - it is the attaining full growth, which means that they will no longer improve by remaining in the ground, For vegetables - it is the picking (though some say it is when they attain full growth).

For an esrog - it is the picking of the fruit.

Other citrus fruits are a safek (a doubt) as to whether the shiur is the same as that of an esrog, or whether they have the same Din as other fruit.

All these stages determine the years as regards Ma'aser Sheini and Ma'aser Ani, but not as regards the transition from the sixth year to the Sh'mitah and from the Sh'mitah to the eighth year, which have a different criterion, as we explained in Hilchos Sh'mitah.


7. Whenever one is in doubt as to whether to separate Ma'aser Sheini or Ma'aser Ani, irrespective of whether it is due to a doubt in Halachah or to a doubt in the facts (whether the fruit reached its stage of Ma'aser before its determining date or afterwards), one should separates both Ma'asros, In that case, one says ' ... and Ma'aser Sheini on the south side, and if Ma'aser Ani needs to be taken, it will be Ma'aser Ani on the south side'. One then redeems it and treats it as one would Ma'aser Ani.


8. This year (5762) and next year (5763) - the first and second years of the six-year cycle respectively - are years of Ma'aser Sheini, whereas the year 5764 - the third year - will be a year of Ma'aser Ani. 5765 and 5766 - the fourth and fifth years of the cycle respectively - will be years of Ma'aser Sheini, and 5767, Ma'aser Ani. The seventh year of the cycle, 5768, will be Sh'mitah.


9. For example, beans (of the family of legumes) that reach one third of their growth before Rosh Hashanah 5764, will be Chayav Ma'aser Sheini; whereas should they reach that stage after Rosh Hashanah, they will be Chayav Ma'aser Ani.


(Siman 9)
Separating Ma'asros through a Sheli'ach
or through members of one's household

1. One may appoint a Sheli'ach to separate Ma'asros on one's behalf. One may also authorize one's wife or another member of one's household to do so. Any of the above is then permitted to redeem his Ma'aser Sheini on the coin belonging to the owner of the Ma'aser.


2. If a child under bar or bas Mitzvah separated Ma'asros, his separation is invalid. Neither can he or she appoint a Sheli'ach to do so on his or her behalf.


3. If a man did not specifically authorize his wife or household members to Ma'aser on his behalf, they are nevertheless permitted to Ma'aser whatever they eat, since what they eat is with his consent. Similarly, a woman is permitted to separate Chalah from the dough that she bakes, Ma'aser the pot that she cooks and rectify any other food that she prepares, as long as her husband is not particular about her doing so. And whenever she Ma'asers, she is also permitted to redeem the Ma'aser Sheini on to the coin that her husband designated for that purpose.

Where halachically, the woman owns the fruit that she is ma'asering, all this is not relevant.


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