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

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Vol. 20   No. 18

This issue is sponsored
l'iluy Nishmas
R' Yoel Zev ben R' Yoself Halevi Enterket z"l
on the occasion of his fifth Yohrzeit 27 shevat

Parshas Mishpatim

From The Wicked Comes Evil

" If he did not lie in wait, only G-d brought it about, then I (G-d) will provide for you a location where he will flee" (21:13).

Rashi explains that this refers to Reuven and Shimon, both of whom killed someone, the former with intent, the latter, inadvertently, but both without witnesses.

G-d now engineers that they both arrive at the same inn, and that Shimon is descending a ladder underneath which Reuven is sitting, when Shimon slips and falls on top of Reuven and kills him - and this time there are witnesses. It transpires that Reuven the murderer receives the punishment he deserves, and is even killed by the very person who should have intervened the first time. Whereas Shimon , who escaped Galus the first time, is now forced to run into exile (what he ought to have done the first time).

And it is in connection with this ruling that David ha'Melech said to Shaul ha'Melech "from the wicked there comes evil!" (We will discuss this later).

This implies that someone who is totally righteous will be incapable of perpetrating an act that will result in a fellow-man's death - even inadvertently!

Further proof of this lies in the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei (22:8), which warns a house-owner to build a parapet round his roof, to prevent "the person who is destined to fall" from falling off. He may be destined to fall off and die, Rashi explains there, but if you leave your roof unprotected, you will be guilty of spilling the blood of a fellow Jew as the Pasuk goes on to say; and Rashi adds there 'because G-d brings about bad from bad people and good from good people'.

And the same concept we find in Pirkei Avos, which relates how Hillel once saw a skull floating on the water and commented 'Because you once drowned somebody you were drowned, and the person who drowned you will eventually suffer the same fate. There too, Hillel is coming to teach us, innocent men do not murder others, even if the victim is guilty.

The two obvious exceptions to this rule are 1. Beis-Din who fulfil the Mitzvah of carrying out the death-sentence on those whom they have sentenced to death, and 2. Someone who kills in self defence (or in defence of others), about whom Chazal have said 'If someone comes to kill you, kill him first!'.


As mentioned earlier, David ha'Melech composed the Pasuk "from the wicked there comes evil". This followed the episode when Shaul ha'Melech, who was pursuing David, entered a cave to relieve himself, the very cave in which, unbeknown to him, David and his men were hiding from him.

Ignoring the urge to kill him, David discreetly cut off a corner of Shaul's coat, with the intention of later showing it to him as proof that he had had the king at his mercy, but declined to do him any harm. It was a short later, as, from a safe distance , he pointed out to Shaul what had happened, that he made the above comment. And he made the comment only after explaining to him that G-d would protect him (David) from his on-going attempts to kill him, but that under no circumstances would he lay a hand on the anointed one of Hashem, and that if he would, he would be branded a rasha.

In view of the circumstances, this is difficult to understand. As the Gemara in B'rachos (62:) states, Shaul deserved to be killed, as the Torah writes 'If someone comes to kill you, kill him first!', and Shaul attempted to kill David on many occasions (as we cited earlier). In that case, it is hard enough to understand why David declined to do what needed to be done to protect his life. But to claim that he would be branded a Rasha if he did is puzzling, to say the least?

(To be cont.)

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Da'as Zekeinim mi'Ba'alei Tosfos)

Feminine Dignity

" If a man sells his daughter as a maidservant, she shall not go out like slaves go out" (21:7).

According to Rashi, this means that a Jewish maidservant, whose master knocks out her tooth or eye, does not go free in the way that Cana'ani slaves do.

The Da'as Zekeinim however, citing the I'bn Ezra, explains that her master should not send her out to the fields to work like men do. Rather, in keeping with the Pasuk in Mishlei "The dignity of a princess is in the home", he should employ her to do her work in the house.


The Prohibition Against Striking One's Father

"Someone who strikes his father or his mother shall surely die! Whoever curses his father or mother shall surely die". There is a principle that wherever the Torah issues a punishment, there must be another Pasuk that issues a warning. Where, asks the Da'as Zekeinim, is that Pasuk?

The warning against cursing one's parents poses no problem, since the Torah later in the Parshah (22:7) and in Kedoshim, respectively, warns against cursing a king and a deaf-mute, incorporating anybody in between, including one's parents. But from which Pasuk do we learn the warning against striking them?

And he answers that we learn it from the same Pasuk in Ki Seitzei (25:3) that forbids striking another Jew - "Pen Yosif" (in connection with the Shali'ach Beis-Din adding lashes to the thirty-nine Malkos that a sinner receives), which applies no less to striking one's parents than to striking anybody else.

The question arises however, that we rule Rebbi Meir, who holds that whenever a person is simultaneously due to both receive Malkos (for sinning) and to pay, he pays and is exempt from Malkos. Consequently, in the current case, where a person is subject to Malkos due to having transgressed "Pen Yosif" and is obligated to pay for the damage, he pays and does receive Malkos?

And he explains that he will receive Malkos where the damage is minimal (less than the value of a P'rutah, where he is exempt from paying, and will therefore receive Malkos).


The question remains however, how in our case, where a child strikes his parents, Beis-Din can sentence him to Malkos, asks the author? Bear in mind that, unlike when one strikes an ordinary person, for striking parents one receives the death-penalty (as our opening Pasuk clearly teaches us), and any La'v that is subject to the death-penalty is not subject to Malkos, as the Gemara teaches us in Maseches Makos

In answer to this question, the Da'as Zekeinim offers two answers: 1. That there are actually two La'avin prohibiting striking a fellow-Jew - "Lo Yosif" and "Pen Yosif", one of which covers striking parents independent of killing them. 2. Since the basic La'v pertains to wounding any Jew, a La'v that is unconnected to the death-penalty, it does not fall under the heading of a 'La'v that is subject to the death-penalty, in which case it incorporates striking parents, including them in the laws of Malkos.


Eyes and Teeth

" set him free on account of his eye set him free on account of his tooth" (21:26/27).

Citing the Medrash, the Da'as Zekeinim explains why an Eved goes free because his master takes out his eye or his tooth. Chom, the son of No'ach was cursed into slavery because he saw his father's nakedness and told his brothers what he saw. Consequently, once a slave is punished on the eye that saw or the tooth that spoke, he no longer requires the punishment of slavery.


A ben Peku'ah

" the ox shall be stoned and its flesh may not be eaten" (21:28).

A stoned ox is a Neveilah, asks Rashi; so why do we need a Pasuk to forbid it to be eaten, seeing as all Neveilah is forbidden?

To answer the question, he establishes the Pasuk by an animal that is Shechted before the death sentence has been carried out.


The Da'as Zekeinim suggests that perhaps the Pasuk is talking about a ben Peku'ah (an ox that was found alive inside the stomach of a cow after it was Shechted). Such an ox does not require Shechita, so maybe the Pasuk is coming to teach us that if after goring and killing a person, it is stoned to death, one may not eat it, even though it is not a Neveilah? And he answers that, since a ben Peku'ah does not need Shechita, it is as if it was Shechted before it was sentenced to death, and one is therefore permitted to eat it.

* * *


A lot of people tend to make Nefilas Apayim (when reciting Tachanun) with their face on their hand or on their wrist. The Mishnah B'rurah (Siman 131:3) rules that one must cover one's face with a garment (e.g. one's sleeve or one's Talis), and not just with one's hand.

The reason for this, he explains, is that the face and the hand are part of the same body, and 'a body cannot cover itself'!

* * *

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