Chamishoh Mi Yo'dei'a

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

Please send your answers and comments to: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


1) Ch. 21, v. 1: "V'ei'leh hamishpotim" - And these are the rulings - The Holy Zohar writes that the laws of monetary matters embody the secrets of reincarnation of souls, "sode gilgul." What is the connection?

2) Ch. 21, v. 6: "V'rotza adonov es ozno" - And his master shall pierce his ear - Rashi explains that the ear that heard on Har Sinai that one should not steal, and in spite of this the person stole, deserves to be pierced. If so, why not have it pierced when the person is sold into servitude rather than 7 years later?

3) Ch. 21, v. 7: "V'chi YIMKORE ish es bito l'omoh" - Compare this with 20:2, "Ki SIKNEH evved Ivri." Why does our verse express itself with the SELLING aspect and verse 2 with the BUYING aspect? Also why doesn't the verse say that an AV will sell his daughter?

4) Ch. 21, v. 21: "Ki chaspo hu" - If the servant is considered the chattel of the master and therefore the master is not considered a murderer, even if the servant dies within 24 hours of the injury the master should not be considered a murderer.

5) Ch. 23, v. 5: "Ki si'reh chamor sonaacho" - If you see your foe's donkey crouching under its load, you might want to refrain from helping him, but instead you must surely help him. Why does the Torah elaborate with the thinking of the observer of this scenario, and then state otherwise? Why not simply say, "Help the man with the load that is on his donkey?"



The Torah gives us specific guidelines for judging. When properly applied, judges will reach the conclusion that is in accordance with Hashem's will. However, the accuracy of the ruling is not foolproof. In spite of the judges being given leeway to not rule purely by technical jurisprudence, for example, if the witnesses testimony passes the judges' grueling interrogation, they still may rule against the witnesses' testimony if they detect falsehood, even though it is not overt, "din m'ru'meh," thus averting a miscarriage of justice, nevertheless, there are times when the witnesses can outwit the judges. This can happen when they have rehearsed their testimony very well, in particular if they are somewhat scholarly, they will know exactly what to say and what to avoid. Thus there is the possibility that a person who knows that he never lent the plaintiff money can be judged to pay back a loan that never took place.

It would thus seem that the Torah's system ch"v has flaws if a judgment falls through the cracks. This is the intention of the Holy Zohar. If one knows that he is in fact innocent and in spite of this a court of competent judges has ruled against him, he must conclude that in an earlier visit to this earth he owed someone money and never paid it back. Upon his return visit he is given the "opportunity" to pay it back to the reincarnation of the other person's soul or to his heir.


The Kli Yokor answers that we have a rule that one does not receive corporeal punishment and also having to pay for one act, "ein lo'keh umsha'leim" (gemara B.M. 91a). When he was sold the money is used to pay back for his theft, so we do not pierce his ear. When the 7 years of slavery are complete and he shows that he is happy with his situation of being a slave, and thus does not consider it a punishment, we are left with the single punishment of piercing his ear.


The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that the sale of a female minor can only be done by her father and no one else, hence the stress on who is selling. She cannot sell herself, as she is a minor. When she reaches the age of majority, she cannot be sold at all. Her mother nor the court can sell her as is explained in the gemara Sotoh 23b.

Regarding the father's sale of his daughter the Rambam hilchos avodim 4:2 writes, "A father is not permitted to sell his daughter as a maidservant unless he has become so impoverished that he is left with nothing, not even clothes to cover his body." The Ralbag says that this is derived from the juxtaposition of the laws of selling one's daughter to the laws of one who is sold as a slave because he has no funds to repay the value of the item he has stolen. Likewise a father should not sell his daughter unless he has no funds.

The Rambam continues: "After his daughter is sold, if he comes into some funds, the court forces him to redeem her."

The Torah considers the sale of a daughter as a maidservant as an act of rebellion against her, as is stated in verse 8, "b'vigdo voh." Perhaps the choice of the word b'vigdo" alludes to the ruling of the Rambam that he may not sell her unless he is so destitute that he has not to himself a garment to wear. "B'vigdo voh" can be translated as "for his garment through her." He retains clothing for himself only through the sale of his daughter.

The Minchoh V'luloh says that by selling his daughter he has betrayed the character of a father to a child, and therefore the Torah does not say "V'chi yimkor OV," - When a FATHER will sell, but rather "V'chi yimkor ISH," - When a MAN will sell.


The Holy Admor of Kotzk answers that if the servant dies within 24 hours we assume that the master intended to kill his servant. This is to be equated with releasing him from servitude, "hefker," as he wants to kill him. This release from servitude does not require a writ of release, as per the opinion of Shmuel, "Hamafkir avdo eino tzorich get shichrur" (Y'vomos 48a, Nozir 62b, Gitin 38a, Kidushin 72b). Hence he has killed a free man who has the status of a ben Yisroel and deserves the death penalty.


This can be explained with a story. Before the Holy Baal Hatanya became the great leader of Lubavitch Chasidus he once traveled to raise money for an important charitable cause. He came to the home of a wealthy man who upon realizing that he was not an ordinary collector, offered to have him stay and teach his children Torah in return for the entire sum he wished to raise. After a short while, the Baal Hatanya advised his host that he was leaving because he could not tolerate the conduct of the people of the community.

His host asked him what he meant, and the Baal Hatanya responded that the people of this city torture the poor. The host thought that he was referring to a recent town meeting to determine how to raise money for a tax. It was decided that first the poor should give as much as could be squeezed out of them, and whatever shortfall was left would be made up by the rich. He realized that this was a great injustice, as the poor should not be taxed at all. Wielding his influence he immediately arranged for a second meeting, at which it was decided that only the rich should pay this particular tax.

A few days later, the Baal Hatanya again gave notice that he was leaving, exclaiming once again, "Your community tortures the poor." The host told his honoured guest of the second meeting and that the poor would not be bothered at all. The Baal Hatanya told him that he was not aware of the meetings and had been referring to a totally different issue. The human body has "wealthy" organs and a "poor" organ. The wealthy organs are the mind and the heart, and the "poor" organ is the stomach. He explained that he noticed that in this city instead of putting an emphasis on the rich organs and engaging them in the pursuit of Torah study Torah and concentration in prayer to Hashem, the approach is to constantly fast. Thus, the "poor" organ, the stomach, is deprived and made to suffer for the person's sins. The Baal Hatanya said that he vehemently disagreed with this approach.

This view was very novel to his host, and he asked its source. The Baal Hatanya told him of the Baal Shem Tov's teachings, which accentuate working with the mind and heart and not punishing the body. He added that the Baal Shem Tov based his approach on our verse as per the following interpretation:

"Ki si'reh," when you will realize, "chamore," that the physical component of the body is, "sonaacho," your enemy, because he is engaged in pursuing physical pleasures, and thus, hates the spiritual component, the soul, which is striving for a spiritual gains, and the body is "roveitz tachas maso'o," crouching under his burden, shirking his responsibility, not willing to straighten up and serve Hashem, "v'chodalta mei'azove lo," and you may contemplate torturing the physical component, denying it the food it needs. The verse continues, advising that this is a wrong approach. Rather, "ozove ta'azove imo," give him help. Give him his bodily needs and attune your mind and soul to serve Hashem. With the passage of time your body will become purified and will cooperate in your service of Hashem.



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

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel