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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1: "V'ei'leh hamishpotim asher tosim lifnei'hem" - And these are the laws that you shall place in front of them - Our Rabbis have given us guidelines for the proper application of the laws of money-matters. For example, when someone loses an item that has no distinguishable unique sign, and another finds it and picks it up, in general he may keep it. However, if the finder picks it up before the owner was even aware of having lost it, he may not keep it for himself, as at the moment of picking it up it came into his possession in a "state of prohibition," i.e. before hope was given up on recovering it, an all important step in the permission of a finder to keep a lost item. Some items are assumed to be noted as lost immediately by the owner, such as money, by virtue of the axiom that a person always checks his pocket for the money it contains.

A Yeshiva student once found a single coin, obviously not having any distinguishing sign, and asked the Chazon Ish if he should be stringent and not spend it for fear that possibly the owner was not aware of its loss at the time it was found. The Chazon Ish stated that there is no basis to be stringent because the Rabbis stated that a person constantly checks his pocket. Even if in a isolated case it is not so, the Rabbis stated that the finder may keep it, hence even when there was no "giving up hope" the Rabbis have removed the ownership of the loser.

The Yeshiva student responded, "This fits in with the explanation of the Holy Baal Shem Tov of the words of the Holy Zohar on our verse, that monetary laws are the basis for reincarnation, 'Someone took or received someone else's money or property against the law of the Torah and has died. He comes back to this world to pay back the debt.'"

The Chazon Ish responded that this is not so when the owner actually was aware of his loss and gave up hope of recovering it before it was found. In such a case the finder received it from "hefker" and there is no repayment. It is specifically where the unexpected happened, that the loser was not yet aware of his money going astray when it was found, and by Rabbinic ruling it may be kept because of the assumption that there was "giving up hope," that restitution is made. (P'eir Hador)

Ch. 21, v. 3: "V'yotzoh ishto imo" - And his wife should leave with him - His wife was not a slave, so why does the Torah say that she too is emancipated? Rashi answers this question with an halachic consequence, that the master is held responsible to sustain the slave's wife as well. Tiferes Y'honoson answers in a psychological manner. A slave is at the beck and call of his master 24 hours a day. As a husband he would have been available for the needs of his wife and children. Thus during his servitude his wife and children are indirectly enslaved as well, somewhat losing a husband and father. When he goes out free, so does his wife (and children, see Vayikra 25:41).

Ch. 21, v. 6: "V'higisho el ha'de'les o el ha'mezuzoh v'rotza adonov es ozno bamartzei'a" - And he shall bring him close to the door or to the doorpost and his master shall pierce his ear with the awl - The gemara Kidushin 22b interprets this mitzvoh symbolically. Hashem says, "The door and doorpost were witnesses when I passed over them in Egypt and smote only the Egyptian firstborn when freeing the bnei Yisroel from bondage. At that time I said, 'The bnei Yisroel are unto me as servants.' This person who has stolen and caused himself to be sold into slavery shall have his ear pierced by the door and doorpost." Tosfos quotes a medrash that says that the word "martzei'a" has the numerical value of 400, the same as the number of years that were decreed upon the bnei Yisroel to be enslaved. The Sefer Hamakneh writes that the word "martzei'a" likewise alludes to the sprinkling of blood of the Paschal lamb at the time of the exodus. The letters before Mem-Reish-Tzadi-Ayin are Lamed-Kuf, whose numerical value is the same as mezuzah twice, alluding to the two doorposts, and Samach-Pei, which spell 'SaF," from which the blood was taken. (He also writes that the letters following "martzei'a" spell "mashkof." I don't understand this. Although the last three letters are Shin-Kof-Pei, but the first letter is Nun, not Mem.)

Ch. 21, v. 10: "V'onosoh" - And her onoh - Rashi says that this means marital relations. Chizkuni says it means housing.

Ch. 21, v. 22: "Kaasher yoshis olov baal ho'ishoh v'nosan biflilim" - As the woman's husband has laid claim upon him he shall pay through judges - This is Rashi's explanation. Chikuni explains that these are two separate manners of being paid for the loss. The first is "kaasher yoshis olov baal ho'ishoh," according to the claim of the husband, if the one who hit the woman agrees, in other words, a settlement out of court. If they cannot come to an agreement, then "v'nosan biflilim."

Ch. 22, v. 24: "Lo si'h'yeh lo k'nosheh" - Do not be a nagging collector - This is Rashi's translation. Chizkuni explains this to mean, "Do not be LIKE one who has FORGOTTEN to collect his debt for a long while." This is a ploy one might use to press for payment.

It seems that the prefix Kof before the word "nosheh" is more readily understood according to Chizkuni.

Ch. 23, v. 13: "Uvchole asher omarti a'leichem tisho'meiru" - And in all that I have told you to do shall you guard - Rashi (Mechilta) says that the word form "shomor" indicates a negative precept. Yet our verse says "uvCHOLE." This teaches us that even a positive precept has a negative precept in tandem, i.e. do the mitzvoh or else you have not only not fulfilled, but also sinned. If so, how do we have the concept of a positive command, only requiring expending up to a 1/5th of our possessions, and not having the stringency of a negative command, requiring giving up all one's possessions to avoid it? This also complicates the concepts of "a'sei docheh lo saa'seh," as every "a'sei" includes a "lo saa'seh," and of "mitzvas a'sei she'hazman gromoh noshim p'turos," since every positive precept also has in its wake a "lo saa'seh."

The Ragatchover Gaon answers that we view the command to do or not to do in a composite manner. This means that if we have a verse that tells us to do a mitzvoh and it implies only that mitzvoh, we have a statement to do this one mitzvoh. Its only motivator is this one command, and in turn takes on the ruling of the command, be it an "a'sei or "lo saa'seh." The mitzvoh of "tisho'meiru" is not unique to any one mitzvoh. It is a general exhortation to keep all 248 positive and 365 negative mitzvos. True that it is a negative "lo saa'seh" expression, but it applies to 613 mitzvos. We look at it as a 1/613rd motivation for every mitzvoh, and as such is almost negligible in motivating to do or not to do the mitzvoh. The basic mizvoh thus retains only the characteristic of its "specific" command. The "lo saa'seh" aspect of "tisho'meiru" does not take on the full-fledged power of a "lo saa'seh." (I have explained the Ragatchover as I understand his words. It is quite a "chidush" and a novel way of looking at a mitzvoh that has multiple commands in the Torah.)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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