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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 1: "V'eileh hamishpotim asher tosim lifneihem" - And these are the laws that you should place in front of them - We can translate "lifneihem" as "ahead of them," and the verse would then be exhorting us to become acquainted with the monetary laws ahead of "them," the actions we plan to carry out. (Rabbi Yisroel of Rizhin)

Ch. 21, v. 1: "V'eileh hamishpotim asher tosim lifneihem" - And these are the laws that you should place in front of them - The gemara Shabbos says that the first question a person is asked in the celestial court is, "Have you conducted your business in an honest manner?" Only then does the court proceed with "Did you set aside time for Torah study, etc.?" An allusion to this might be these words of our verse - And these are the monetary rulings that you shall place ahead of them, the rest of the interrogation. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 21, v. 6: "El ha'delles o el hamzuzoh v'rotza adonov es ozno " - To the door or the doorpost and his master shall pierce his ear - Why is this procedure done specifically at a door? Three offerings are given in this week's Chamishoh Mi Yodei'a. Another explanation: Once a thief always a thief is an attitude that some people have, including some thieves. This former thief has served his master for the past six years. He should go free, but wants to stay on, "Ohavti es adoni " It is obvious that he cannot stay on against the will of his master. When he does stay on it is only with the master's agreement. This clearly indicates that the master has noted that there was no theft on the part of this slave, or else why would he agree to keep him. The former thief has turned a leaf and is now clean of this terrible character flaw. A door, when open, invites theft. When closed and locked, it prevents theft. Similarly, one's ear is a receptacle for loshon hora and other negative speech. The ear has a flexible lobe, which can be placed into the ear canal to muffle out negative speech. It can also be left open to absorb words of Torah wisdom, mitzvos, as hearing the reading of the Torah, parshas Zochor, Megillas Esther, the blowing of the shofar, and the like. Thus, the slave, the door, and the ear have a common denominator, that they can either be used to promote the negative or the positive. This is the message of piercing the slave's ear against a doorpost.

Ch. 21, v. 7: "Lo seitzei k'tzeis ho'avodim" - She shall not leave in the manner of male slaves - Rashi explains that this means to exclude her emancipation through her tooth or eye being knocked out, which is cause for the emancipation of a male non-Jewish slave. This is the technical law derived from these words. However, Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam says that there is another message inherent in the simple meaning of these words. When she leaves her father's house, i.e. when the father decides to sell her, and when she leaves the house of her master who purchased her, be it through reaching the age of majority, after six years, or by pro-rated redemption, she should not leave her master's domain in any of these situations in a publicized manner. We are to be extra careful with the feelings of a bas Yisroel.

Ch. 21, v. 14: "V'chi yozid ish al rei'ei'hu l'horgo v'ormoh mei'im miz'b'chi tikochenu lomus" - If a person will plan intentionally to kill him with cunning from upon My altar shall you take him to be put to death - What is an intentional murder, a person who is on so low a rung of behaviour, doing upon the altar? It is exactly because of his paucity in behaviour between man and man, "bein odom lacha'veiro," that he has run to the extreme in his service of Hashem, "bein odom laMokome." (Rabbi Shmuel Prager)

Ch. 21, v. 14: "V'chi yozid ish al rei'ei'hu l'horgo v'ormoh mei'im miz'b'chi tikochenu lomus" - If a person will plan intentionally to kill him with cunning from upon My altar shall you take him to be put to death - Whom shall you take from upon the altar to carry out capital punishment? The common understanding is to take the suspected murderer. However, Rabbeinu Bachyei says that it refers to a witness to the murder. If he is upon the altar and there is a need to have him join a second witness to testify, we do not wait until he decides to leave the altar. Rather, we take him off the altar immediately. This teaches us the great importance the Torah attaches to eradicating evildoers. This is more important than offering a sacrifice to Hashem.

Ch. 21, v. 18: "V'chi y'rivun anoshim" - And when people will argue - The verse goes on to say that one will strike his fellow man, and if the victim requires medical care (verse 19) it should be administered at the expense of the one who struck him. However, these words can be understood as follows: If people get into an argument to the point that one physically strikes the other, then there is reasonable hope that "v'rapo y'ra'pei," he will be healed of his misbehaviour. However, if the argument is left in the realm of verbal sparring, there is little chance of the situation being healed. (Rabbi Yonoson of Prague)

Ch. 21, v. 28: "V'chi yigach shor es ish o es ishoh" - And when an ox will gore a man or a woman - Following verses (29,31,32) give us other scenarios of an ox goring. Our verse mentions that we are dealing with an ox, albeit the same rule applies to other animals, just that an ox more commonly gores than other animals. Note numerous differences in how the cases are detailed. In our verse we obviously have to mention an animal, as this is the first verse discussing this subject. Goring is mentioned once at the beginning and is applied to both man and woman as the injured party. In verse 29 the ox is again mentioned, although it seemingly could be left out, as it is understood that we are speaking of the same situation, only that it caused death. "V'heimis" is mentioned once, and again applies to both the man and the woman of this verse. In verse 31, where the victims are children, the ox is not mentioned, put goring is mentioned twice, once by the boy, and once by the girl. The victims are mentioned ahead of the goring, contrary to verses 28 and 29. In verse 32, where a male or female slave is the victim, the ox is mentioned again, and goring is mentioned before one victim, the male slave, but is not repeated by the female slave. All of these differences deserve explanations, for which I have none.

Ch. 21, v. 35: "V'chi yigof shor" - And when an ox shall shove - Our verse discusses an ox pushing with any part of its body or biting (Rashi). This type of inflicting injury, as well as the goring of previous verses, go under the same title of "shor" in the first mishnoh of B.K. The common denominator is that the ox's motivation is simply to inflict injury. We therefore might wonder why the Torah places the financial responsibility for opening or digging a pit in the public domain in between these verses, a seeming non sequitur.

Ch. 23, v. 8: "V'lO sikaCH shochaD" - And you shall not accept a bribe - The gemara Ksubos 111 says that the word "shochad" is a composite of two words, "shehu chad." What does this mean? In a previous edition of Sedrah Selections numerous explanations were offered. Here is another one: The Holy Zohar on our parsha says that Hashem's Holy Name is ECHOD and the final letters of "v'lO sikaCH shochaD" are also ECHOD. This is Hashem's character, as per the verse, "Asher lo yiso fonim v'lo yikach shochad."

We now have a new insight into the above. A judge has to emulate Hashem when he judges. If he fulfills the dictate of our verse to not take a bribe he is also ECHOD, as per the final letters of these words. If he negates the "v'lO," and is left with "sikaCH shochaD," the final letters are "ChaD." (Kosnos Ohr)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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