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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 7: "K'tzeis ho'avodim" - As the male servants leave - The Baal Haturim notes that the word "k'tzeis" appears as well in Shmos 33:8, "K'tzeis Moshe el ho'ohel," and in the book of Shoftim 5:31, "k'tzeis hashemesh bigvuroso." He ties the three verses together. The gemara B.B. 75a says that when Moshe went to the tent of covenant his face shone as the radiance of the sun, "k'tzeis hashemesh bigvuroso." The gemara B.M. 83b says that even though it is the responsibility of a worker who was contracted to work all day, to involve himself in work from sunrise, the time it takes for him to go from his home to the workplace is absorbed by the one who hired him, rather than his being responsible to leave before daybreak to the work site so that he begin work at daybreak. "K'tzeis ho'avodim," when the worker leaves his home, is "k'tzeis hashemesh," only when the sun rises, and not earlier.

Ch. 21, v. 18: "V'chi y'rivun anoshim" - And when people will argue - In verse 22 we find, "V'chi yinotzu anoshim." A "riv" is a verbal argument. This led to "v'hikoh," one hit the other. The verse goes on to tell us the responsibilities the hitter has. Why not just begin with, "V'chi ya'keh ish?" This teaches us that even if the victim started the verbal attack, nevertheless, the one who hits carries the burden of responsibility. "V'chi yinotzu anoshim" of verse 22 means that they argue and and are involved in fisticuffs. This can be proven form the verse in Dvorim 25, "Ki yinotzu v'korvoh eishes ho'echod l'hatzil es ishoh mi'yad ma'keihu." The verse does not spell out that one had already hit the other. We must conclude that "yinotzu" includes hitting. (Haa'meik Dovor)

Ch. 21, v. 21: "Ach im yom o yomayim yaamode"- But if he will remain alive for a day or two - If he, the slave, stands in his rebelliousness a day or two, and it is then that the master struck him, then the master is not held responsible for his death. (Daas Z'keinim)

Ch. 21, v. 21: "Ach im yom o yomayim yaamode"- But if he will survive for a day or two - Ramban explains that since the verse says that the slave died "under his hand," we might mistakenly think that the slave must die almost immediately for the master to be a murderer. The verse then goes on to clarify that this is not so. Rather, if the slave is able to stand up, "yaamode" being translated as "stand," be it on the first day or the second day, then the master is not treated as a murderer. If he is not able to stand up during this time period, even if he dies on the second day, we still call this "tachas yodo." The verse does not discuss not being able to stand up even on the third day, because since he survived this long, it is no longer "tachas yodo," and the master is acquitted. (We are to understand "yom o yomayim" to mean "b'yom o b"yomayim.")

I do not grasp the meaning of this because the gemara clearly states that "ym o yomayim" means a 24 hour period from the moment of injury. If so there is no first or second day. It is a bit difficult to say that the verse means that the first day is the remainder of the first day and the second day is from the beginning of the second day until the 24 hours since the injury elapse.

Ch. 21, v. 21: "Ach im yom o yomayim yaamode"- But if he will survive for a day or two - Why is his survival expressed in the future tense? Meshech Chochmoh has a very novel answer. Just as when a free man, a "ben chorin," who was hit by his fellow ben Yisroel, we judge if the injury inflicted is sufficient to kill the victim, even before he has died, and if we conclude that it is insufficient, even if the victim later dies, the injury inflictor is not considered a murderer, here too, the court can pre-assess if the injured party WILL survive, "yaamode," and if the court concludes that he will not, even if in actuality he does die, the master goes free, as he has already been found not guilty by the court.

Ch. 21, v. 24: "Ayin tachas ayin shein tachas shein yod tachas yod regel tachas ro'gel" - An eye in place of an eye a tooth in place of a tooth a hand in place of a hand a leg in place of a leg - The Ibn Ezra explains that these four examples are listed because they are the most common to be damaged. A person's eye or mouth are within easy reach of his opponents hands, so he would likely strike him there. He might easily injure the other's hand as the hands are used to both inflict injury and shield from it. A leg is also a likely target for injury to stop one's opponent from running away.

Minchoh V'luloh offers a beautiful allusion derived from these examples. Their first letters spell the word "oshir," a wealthy person, to teach us that one whose organs are functioning properly is truly wealthy.

Ch. 21, v. 28: "V'chi yigach shor" - And if an ox gores - This excludes one's servant who inflicts injury upon another's property. If one would be liable to pay for this anytime a servant would be upset with his master, he would do damage to someone else or his property, and the master would have to pay. Therefore, an ox, and not a servant. (Minchoh V'luloh)

(This "droshoh" seems to be a non-Torah level one, but rather a sort of "asmachta," as the ruling just mentioned is of Rabbinic nature.)

Ch. 21, v. 37: "Chamishoh vokor y'sha'leim tachas hashor v'arba tzone tachas ha'seh" - Five bovines shall he pay in place of the ox and four sheep in place of the ewe - Abarbanel explains the logic behind this seemingly extremely harsh punishment, and the reason for the difference between the ox's five-fold repayment and the sheep's four-fold repayment. Once the thief has either slaughtered or sold the stolen animal, it is no longer in front of us to evaluate. It is quite likely that the thief will claim that it was a weakling female. Males, rams, that are robust are often worth three times as much as a weak female. Similarly, in the bovine species, a strong ox is worth four times as much as a weak cow. Since the evidence was either destroyed by slaughtering, or removed from the scene through selling, we hold the thief who slaughtered or sold the animal to the strictest possibility. This is payment beyond "keifel," the normal double payment, where the doubling is indeed a penalty.

Ch. 24, v. 6: "Va'yikach Moshe chatzi hadom va'yossem bo'agonos vachatzi hadom zorak al hamizbei'ach" - And Moshe took half the bloos and placed it into bowls and half the blood he threw upon the altar - Rabbi Saadioh Gaon explains the order of happenings. Moshe put aside half the blood, took the other half and sprinkled it on the altar, then related the Ten Commandments, then took the bowl that he put aside and sprinkled it upon the people.

Ch. 24, v. 10: "K'livnas hasapir uch'etzem hashomayim lotohar" - As a brick of sapphire and its look was like the pristine heavens - We know that a sapphire stone is blue, so what is added by "k'etzem hashomayim?" There are sapphires that are red, as per the verse, "Odmu etzem mipninim" (Eichoh 4:7). Our verse therefore elaborates to point out that it was blue. (B'chor Shor)


Just before Purim we have the custom to donate "machatzis hashekel," which is any amount we wish to donate to charity. However, as a remembrance for the giving of the half-shekel we place our donation into a plate, using it to "purchase" the synagogue's three coins that are, for example "half dollar" coins, pick up the prepared three half dollar coins that are now ours, and donate them (back) to charity. There may be more to this than the practicality of not carrying around our own 3 "half" coins. This is based on the insight of Rabbeinu Yechiel on parshas Ki Siso, Ch. 30, v. 13: "Kol ho'oveir" - Everyone who passes - Rabbeinu Yechiel notes the subtle difference between "kol ho'oveir" in this verse and "L'chole ho'oveir" in Shmos 38:26, where it relates that the taking of the half-shkolim took place. (It would also seem to be more accurate if that verse would have said "Mikole ho'oveir," since it is mentioning that a half-shekel was received from each donour. This will likewise be answered with his answer to his question.)

Rabbeinu Yechiel says quite a "chidush." The words "kol ho'oveir" in our verse refers to the donour, while "L'chole ho'oveir" refers to the collector. Those who donated gave varying amounts as they saw fit, and not specifically in the form of coins. Moshe took the amassed silver and minted it all into half-shekel coins. He gave these coins to officers who gave them back to the 603,550 men as a present. Now each person had proper ownership of a half-shekel coin. Collectors came for a second round of collecting the exact same silver, just this time it was given as a half-shekel coin from each person. We can now say "L'chole ho'oveir," TO each person was given a "machatzis hashekel." This also explains why in Shmos 25:2 we find the expression TAKING twice, "V'yikchu li trumoh ……tikchu es trumosi." The last three words of this verse seem totally redundant. (As well, there is the change from third person to second.) The first word "v'yikchu," is a command that the people take their silver, any amount that they see fit, and give it. The second taking, "tikchu," is in the form of half-shekel coins, and is referring to the collectors, (hence second person.) Parentheses around points that Rabbeinu Yechiel did not mention, but seem to also be clarified through his explanation.>>

We know that there was a one-time donation of a half-shekel for the base sockets of the Mishkon, and an annual donation of a half-shekel for the communal sacrifices. This was announced every month of Ador (Shkolim 1:1). Is our pre-Purim donation a commemoration of the Mishkon donation or of the yearly donation? At first glance we might assume that it is a memorial for the yearly donation, as we do this specifically in the month of Ador. Not intended as a play-on-words, the Machatzis Hashekel on O.Ch. 694:3 clearly states that the half-shkolim we donate are a commemoration for the annual half-shekel donated for the communal sacrifices.

However, the Darkei Moshe cites the Agudoh who says that we should not have in mind that the half-shekel that we donate is for atonement. This would strongly seem to indicate that it is not in the place of a donation for the communal sacrifices, which served as atonement.

However, some understand the Agudoh, who says to not have the intention of atonement through the donation, to mean that if one would have this in mind, he might be sanctifying the money for actual sacrifices (although the Mikdosh is unfortunately not existent nowadays).

If it is indeed a remembrance of the Mishkon donation, then the giving a donation of any amount and receiving the 3 half-shekels which we immediately donate to charity mirrors Rabbeinu Yechiel's interpretation of how this took place when donating for the Mishkon.

However, Rabbeinu Yechiel himself writes that since in 30:15 we find the words "l'cha'peir al nafshoseichem" it is conclusive that the final giving of the half-shekel coins must be through coins that the people owned, and if they received the coins to just go through the required motions of returning them for the Sanctuary, the coins are not theirs, so it could not effect an atonement. He says that we must say that the coins were given to the people as a present, giving them absolute ownership, and they then gave THEIR coins as a donation, and this would bring atonement.

We see that even the money given for the Mishkon was for atonement, so it is on the same footing as half-shkolim given annually for communal sacrifices. This would negate the proof brought from the Agudoh.

However, Rashi d.h. "l'cha'peir al nafshoseichem" explains that these words allude to the future counting of the bnei Yisroel, as recorded in the first chapter of Bmidbar, where the money was used for communal sacrifices. This explanation leaves us with only annual half-shkolim being brought for atonement, and not the half-shkolim for the Mishkon. If the Agudoh is in agreement with Rashi, then we are back to our proof that the half-shkolim we donate just before Purim are in place of the donations for the Mishkon.

Another approach to tying the three shkolim to the Mishkon donation is based on the Mordechai in his commentary on the gemara Megiloh #777 writes that the custom of donating exactly THREE half-shkolim is based on the words "machatzis hashekel" appearing 3 times in the parsha. Even if we were to agree that there is surely the component of a remembrance for the annual sacrifices, since we donate 3 half-shkolim, and one is for the Mishkon, we emulate the manner in which it was given and do the same with the other two.

This approach seems to be in consonance with the words of the Oruch Hashulchon O.Ch. 694:8, who writes that PRIMARILY, the half-shkolim are given as a remembrance for the donations for the communal sacrifices, and therefore there is no need to only use the money for SHUL upkeep. We see that he surely incorporates a Mishkon donation attitude in the donation, or else why would he forewarn that the money need not be earmarked for SHUL upkeep, corresponding to the Mishkon donations.



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

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