by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS MISHPOTIM 5767 BS"DCh. 21, v. 2: "Ki sikneh evved Ivri" - When you will purchase a Hebrew slave - Why doesn't the verse say "Ki sikach," as this is the more common Torah expression for acquiring? Why is the transaction here expressed as purchasing, while by the maidservant in verse 7 it is expressed as selling, "V'chi yimkore"? Perhaps the default is selling, as this is the first step, as one sells and it then becomes the property of the purchaser (even if technically both stages take place at once). Our verse's vantage point is purchasing because the Torah wants to make use of the word form "k'nioh." This not only has the connotation of purchasing, but also "creating," as per the verse, "Ha'lo hu ovicho ko'necho" (Dvorim 32:6). The slave who is purchased is one who stole and has no money to pay back. He is sold as a slave to become rehabilitated, and to be able to reenter into society as a useful creative person. The Torah is telling the purchaser, "ki sinkeh," when you will create and rehabilitate the person you are purchasing. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 23, v. 10: "V'sheish shonim tizra es artzecho" - And six years you may sow your land - The parsha of "shmitoh" here and in B'har is expressed in the singular (25:3,4,5), while the parsha of "yoveil" is expressed in the plural, "Lo siz'ro'u v'lo sik'tz'ru .. v'lo siv'tz'ru" (Vayikra 25:11). The Gaon of Rogatchov explains that during the "shmitoh" year a field usually remains in the hands of one owner, hence the commands are in the singular form. During the "yoveil" year, on Yom Kipur, the ownership of numerous fields changes hands, as the fields that were sold during the past 49 years are returned to their original owners. Since there are two people involved, the prohibitions are likewise expressed in the plural form. (Although from Rosh Hashonoh through Yom Kipur is not the time for any of the agricultural pursuits mentioned, sowing or harvesting, since the possibility of harvesting exists, the Torah expresses all activities in the plural form.)
Alternatively, the gemara Arochin 32b says that "yoveil" is only in affect when all the tribes reside in Eretz Yisroel. Therefore its prohibitions are in the plural form. Rashi on the gemara Gitin 36a d.h. "Bishvi'is" in his second approach posits that "shmitoh" is incumbent upon a ben Yisroel residing in Eretz Yisroel even if he is the one and only ben Yisroel living there. Therefore its commands are expressed in the singular form. (Pardes Yoseif)
Ch. 23, v. 13: "Uvchol asher omarti a'leichem tish'm'ru v'shem elohim acheirim lo sazkiru" - And in all I have told you you shall safeguard and the name of foreign gods you shall not mention - There is a conjunctive joining letter Vov connecting the safeguarding of Shabbos of the previous verse to the prohibition to mention foreign gods. How is this connected? The Meshech Chochmoh answers based on the gemara Shabbos 118a, which says that if a person keeps Shabbos properly, even if he sins through idol worship as did the generation of Enosh, he will nevertheless be forgiven, based on a verse in the end of Yeshayohu. One should not fall in the trap of thinking that this allows for free reign for a Shabbos observer. EVEN if you will safeguard all that I have said regarding Shabbos, nevertheless, you should still be punctilious about distancing yourself from false gods.
Ch. 23, v. 15: "Shivas yomim tochal matzos Kaasher tzivisicho" - Seven days you shall eat matzos as I have commanded you - Compare this with Shmos 34:18, "Shivas yomim tochal matzos aasher tzivisicho," lacking the letter Kof before "asher." This is explained by Rabbi Betza'leil haKohein of Vilna. Rashi here explains that although the mentioning of these Holidays seems superfluous, it isn't because it informs us that Shabbos and Yomim Tovim take place even in a "shmitoh" year. The Torah stresses that Pesach is the Yom Tov connected to "Chodesh ho'oviv," the spring month that has crops beginning to mature. Since we are discussing Pesach in a "shmitoh" year, it is not actually an "oviv" situation, as one does not sow and reap that year. This is why we have a "Kof" of comparison, "just as," here. Pesach and all its mitzvos apply in this year, JUST AS it does in other years. In 38:14 the verse is discussing Pesach on a regular agriculturally active year, hence no Kof.
Ch. 24, v. 7: "Naa'seh v'nishmo" - We will do and we will hear - Tanna D'vei Eliyohu says: When the bnei Yisroel responded to Hashem with "naa'seh v'nishmo," Hashem said "V'yikchu li trumoh" (Shmos 25:2). To clarify this response, the Kedushas Tzion cites the gemara Shabbos 88a, which says that when Moshe entered the heavens to bring the Torah down to our physical world, the angels requested of Hashem to leave the Torah in the celestial world, "T'noh hodcho al hashomoyim" (T'hilim 8:2). Commentators explain that their claim was based on the rule of "bar metzra," the adjoining neighbour. If one has a field to sell, he must first offer it to the person whose field abuts his (gemara B.M. 108b). Since the Torah was at the present found in the heavens and the angels reside in the heavens it should be given to them. However, the rule of "bar metzra" falls to the wayside if there is a loss to the seller, for example, if someone else offers more for the field. This is why Hashem responded with "V'yikchu li trumoh." If the Torah would remain in the heavens the earth would be an improper place for a Mishkon/Mikdosh. If the Torah would be brought down to the earth there would be a Mishkon/Mikdosh. Thus Hashem "stands to gain" if the Torah would be brought down to the earth and in turn the ruling of "bar metzra" does not apply.
(Technically speaking, the rule of "bar metzra" does not apply when an item is given as a present and is not being sold.)
Ch. 24, v. 14: "Aharon v'Chur imochem mi baal dvorim yigash a'lei'hem" - Aharon and Chur are with you whoever has a claim should draw close to them - The gemara B.K. 46b derives from these words that if one has a claim against another, it is incumbent upon the claimant to substantiate his claim, and not upon the defendant to prove that he does not owe. Since this is a universal rule that applied even before Moshe was about to ascend the mountain, why did he impart this information just at this point, when he was leaving for a while and had Aharon and Chur tend to judging and ruling on claims?
The gemara R.H. 21b says that when two litigants appeared in front of Moshe there was no need for them to prove their claims. Instead, they just stated their claims and through the power of "ruach haKodesh," a holy spiritual sense, Moshe knew who was in the right, and he ruled accordingly. Thus, until this point in time there was no application of the rule, "Hamotzi meicha'veiro olov horayoh," he who has a claim to extract from his fellowman is obliged to bring proof. (Divrei Sho'ul)
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