CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS MISHPOTIM 5771 - BS"D
1) Ch. 21, v. 8: "V'hefdoh" - Rashi brings the gemara Kedushin 14b which says that the master helps in the redemption of the minor maid-servant by receiving pro-rated payment for the remaining time of servitude. In what way is the master being helpful, since he is receiving a pro-rated refund?
2) Ch. 21, v. 32: "Shloshim shkolim" - What is the reason for this exact amount?
3) Ch. 22, v. 22: "KI IM tzo'oke yitzak eilai - IF ONLY he will cry out to me" - The Ramban asks, "What is meant by "KI IM?" Seemingly, "im" would be sufficient. Besides the words of the Ramban what other answer can you offer?
4) Ch. 22, v. 24: "Im kesef talveh es ami es he'oni imoch" - What is the intention of "es ami" and "imoch?" You are not lending to to My nation, nor is the poor lender with you.
5) Ch. 23, v. 3: "V'dol lo sehdar b'rivo" - Do not glorify a destitute person in his grievance. What is the grievance of the poor man and in what way can one strengthen his complaint, which the Torah prohibits?
Rabbi Yaakov of Orleans answers that since the maid-servant is a minor, the master is helping by accepting an equal payment per year even though her value increases in the latter years. In the earliest years she is a baby and of no help. As she gets older, she can be more and more helpful.
The Torah equates a male Canaani servant to a woman, in relation to many halochos. A person is at the prime of his strength between twenty and fifty. A woman who is appraised with the "arochin" system (Vayikra 27:4) is given a flat rate value of thirty shkolim when between twenty and fifty years of age. Since for many laws a Canaanite slave is equated to a Jewish woman, the Torah gives the same 30 shkolim flat rate value to the Canaanite slave killed by an ox. (Tosfos Hasholeim)
The K'hilas Yitzchok answers in the name of Rabbi Mordechai of Pinsk with a gemara B.B. 16a. Rabbi Levi said that P'ninoh had noble intentions in aggravating Chanoh. Emphasizing that Chanoh had no children would bring Chanoh to praying more fervently to Hashem. In spite of P'ninoh's noble intentions, she was punished by having most of her children die in her lifetime. This is alluded to in our verse. "Do not cause anguish to ANY widow or orphan." Rashi says that this includes anyone. This applies especially to a person who has a broken spirit. "KI IM," EVEN IF your only intention in making them suffer is, "TZO'OK YITZAK EILAI," that they should cry out to Me more fervently in prayer, and that I should hearken to their voice, (v. 23) "V'choroh api," and My anger will burn, and you will be punished in spite of your good intentions.
1) If one lends, he should do so in front of witnesses so the borrower is not tempted to lie and deny that he ever took a loan, hence "ES ami," - with people present. If one is giving charity to a poor man, the opposite is true. It is preferable to give charity privately so as not to embarrass the recipient, hence "he'oni IMOCH," only the donour and the recipient should be present. (Nachal K'dumim)
2) When giving charity to a poor man involve him with some work so he feels that he is not receiving a handout, but rather, payment for his efforts. Translate IMOCH as we find in this parsha, 23:5, "Ozove taazove IMO," meaning "along with him." This is also the intention of the mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos 1:5, "V'yi'h'yu aniim bnei vei'secho." When a poor man comes to your home, treat him as a household member. Just as you are not reluctant to ask members of your family to help out, so also ask the poor man to help. He thus feels that the meal and lodging that he receives are payment for his efforts and not a handout. (Nachal K'dumim)
3) The Ibn Ezra points out that the use of the word form AM indicates that a lower level person takes a loan, while a person of a higher spiritual stature would endure the financial hardships meted out by Hashem and persevere without asking for a loan.
We find the same interpretation of the word AM as lower level people in the Nachal K'dumim on Shmos 14:5, "Va'yugad l'melech Mitzrayim ki vorach ho'OM." Paroh was told that HO'OM, the lower level of the nation, the "eirev rav," ran away with the bnei Yisroel, and he therefore took chase.
The poor man may express his frustration and anger against Hashem saying, "Why does Hashem forsake me?" When one gives charity to the needy, he refutes this contention of the poor man. On the other hand, if he refuses to give charity, he is strengthening the poor man's complaint. Therefore, the Torah cautions to give charity so as not to provide support for the poor man's complaint about his financial situation. (shomati o ro'isi)
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