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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 21, v. 6: "V'higisho el ha'delles o el hamzuzoh" - And he shall bring him close to the door or the doorpost - He should be brought there for piercing of his earlobe because he entered a house to steal and when being punished we require "Yad ho'eidim ti'h'yeh bo borishonoh" (Dvorim 17:7). (Shitoh Lo Noda L'mi)

Ch. 21, v. 6: "V'rotza adonov es ozno bamartzei'a" - And his master shall pierce his earlobe with an awl - Why, of all his organs, is his earlobe chosen for piercing? Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai explains that the ear that has heard at Mount Sinai "Lo signove," you shall not steal, and yet he has stolen, it should be pierced. The ear that has heard at Mount Sinai "Ki li bnei Yisroel avodim," and this means that one should not be a servant to a servant, i.e. another person who is likewise a servant of Hashem, and this person has gotten himself a human master, let that ear be pierced.

The obvious question is: Given the above two statement by Rabbi Yochonon ben Zakai should his ear not have been pierced with an awl immediately upon becoming a slave, and not six years later when he wants to continue being a slave rather than pursuing emancipation?

Ear piercing is a punishment as is being sold as a slave. Originally we only sell him as a slave because we do not administer two punishments for one wrongdoing. However, if after his six year slave tenure he wants to continue being a slave, this shows us that this was not a true punishment in his eyes. We then pierce his ear. (Mahari"t)

Ch. 21, v. 10: "Sh'eiro ch'susoh v'onosoh lo yigra" - Her sustenance her clothing her marriage relations shall he not diminish - The Rambam hilchos ishus 15:19 writes among many other matters regarding husband to wife and wife to husband behaviours that the husband shall not be melancholy.

One might think that by supplying her her needs and not speaking disrespectfully he has fulfilled his responsibilities to his wife, while his moods are his own business. The Rambam says that this is wrong. The husband is responsible to go around in a positive mood.

Ch. 21, v. 12: "Mose yumos" - He shall surely be put to death - The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh explains the double expression. He who is deserving of death is put to death.

Ch. 21, v. 14: "Mei'im miz'b'chi tikochenu lomus" - From with My altar shall you take him to be put to death - If one is to be judged to be put to death or has already been judged so, even if he has run for safe harbour to the Mikdosh and has grabbed the corners of the altar, he shall be removed. This might be symbolic of one who has sinned grievously and has now turned a new leaf and presents himself as a holy person, totally connected to the Mikdosh. Nevertheless, when it comes to judgment on earth, we do not take this into consideration.

Ch. 21, v. 17: "Umka'leil oviv v'imo mose yumos" - And he who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death - The punishment for cursing a parent is stoning (gemara Sanhedrin 66a), while for hitting it is strangulation (84b), a lighter punishment. This is because people are quick to misuse their mouths and when even a relatively small matter displeases them they anger and curse all day long. A sin that is readily transgressed deserves a stiffer punishment. (Ramban)

Ch. 21, v. 19: "V'rapo y'ra'pei" - And he should heal - This is the source for permission/responsibility to seek a doctor for healing. Sh.O. Y.D. 336:1 writes that only one who is knowledgeable may do this and also when no more proficient a person is present. Otherwise he is considered a blood-spiller.

Ch. 21, v. 20: "V'chi yakeh ish es avdo o es amoso basheivet umeis tachas yodo nokome yinokeim" - And when a man will strike his male or female servant with a rod and he will die under his hand retribution shall surely be taken - The next verse goes on to say that if the stricken slave survives for more than 24 hours the master is not held liable. The Rambam hilchos rotzeiach ushmiras nefesh 2:14 writes that this rule only applies when he strikes his servant with a rod, but not when he strikes with a knife, spear, stone, fist, or the like. Then even if the servant survives for a year, but eventually succumbs to his injuries, the master is liable for murder. This is clearly indicated by the Torah's telling us with what he struck, a rod. There is no exemption when the slave is hit in a deadly manner.

Ch. 22, v. 25,26: "Im chovol tachbol salmas rei'echo ad bo hashemesh t'shi'venu lo, V'hoyoh ki yitzak eilai v'shomati ki chanun oni" - If you will take your friend's garment as surety by the time the sun descends return it to him, And it will be if he cries out to Me and I will hear because I am gracious - Even though holding on to an item given as surety for a loan that is needed by the borrower at night but is not returned is not theft, as after all, the borrower is in debt, nevertheless, since Hashem has given the lender sufficient funds allowing him to help another, if he is not sufficiently caring and does not return the borrowers garment at night for his use, Hashem will hearken to the cry of the borrower and respond by limiting the funds bestowed on the lender in the future. It is therefore better for the lender to be concerned for the borrower's welfare and this will keep the conduit of abundant income open for the lender to further help out needy people. (Sforno)

We thus see that Hashem responds to the cry of a needy person even if his cry is not one of being robbed or otherwise being dealt with unjustly. (Rabbi Yechiel Meir Admor of Gastinin)

Ch. 22, v. 30: "V'anshei kodesh ti'h'yun li uvosor baso'deh treifoh lo socheilu" - And holy people shall you be unto Me ans meat torn in the field shall you not consume - The gemara Chulin 5b states that the animals owned by the righteous are protected by Hashem to not come to a wrongdoing, and all the more so their owners. Tosfos ad loc. asks from a number of instances cited in the Talmud where righteous people inadvertently committed sins. Tosfos answers that the safeguard is limited to not consuming prohibited items and not to other matters.

Based on this we can translate the words of our verse to say: If you will be "anshei kodesh," then you will not come to consume "bosor baso'deh treifoh" even inadvertently. (Sfas Emes)

The Mahar"i Kashtro in his notes on Tur Y.D. explains the difference between consumption and other wrongdoings. If the righteous person were to eat something not kosher his body benefits from it and it becomes part of him. This is untenable.

Ch. 22, v. 30: "La'kelev tashlichun oso" - You shall throw it to the dog - There was a butcher in Tzipori who fed the people treifoh and n'veiloh meat, unbeknownst to them. Once on the eve of Yom Kippur he drank himself into a stupor, climbed onto his roof, fell off, and died. Dogs came to lick the blood that oozed from his shattered body. Rabbi Chanina was asked if the body should be carried off, away from the dogs. He responded that the body should be left as is. Our verse says that treifoh food should not be consumed, and it should be given to dogs. This person fed innocent bnei Yisroel treifoh and n'veiloh and also deprived dogs of treifoh meat. Let them now partake of what is due to them. (M.R. Vayikra 5:6)



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

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