"These are the Mishpatim - judgments that you'll place before them."Q- Why does Hashem command Moshe Rabbeinu to "place" the judgments before them, as opposed to merely teach the judgments to them?
A- Hashem wants to let Moshe Rabbeinu know that his job as the Rebbi of the Jewish people goes far beyond simply transmitting the Torah, far beyond simply repeating the Halacha two, or maybe three times, until they could repeat it back. Rather, Moshe's responsibility was to make Torah accessible for the people, in very much the same way a set table makes eating easy and appealing. The Gemorah (Eiruvin 54b) says that a person is obligated to teach his student a lesson at least 4 times, and if that is not enough, until the student sufficiently understands it. The Rebbi has to make sure the student can say the Halacha or idea clearly.
(From the Gemorah ibid.) Rebbe Preida once had a student that had to be taught something 400 times before he could understand it. One day, while Rebbi Preida and this student were learning, someone asked him to do a certain Mitzvah when he finishes. After the 400 times Rebbe Preida taught the boy the lesson, the student failed to understand it. "Why is it different today than all other days?" he asked his Talmid. "Because," he answered, "from the moment you were asked to do the Mitzvah, I was distracted, thinking to myself, 'Soon the master will have to get up ... Soon the master will have to get up...'." Rav Preida said, "If that is so, let me teach the lesson to you again." He then repeated the teaching another 400 times. Because of this, a heavenly voice called out to Rav Preida, "Which reward do you want? Either you can live a long life (of four hundred years), or you and your generation can merit The World-to-Come (Olam Habo)?” He answered, "I request that I and my generation merit Olam Habo.” To this Hashem responded, "Give him BOTH rewards!" Amazing! The great Rebbe Preida had such patience to make sure this difficult student understood the Torah. Think how many opportunities Rebbe Preida had to excuse himself from this, yet he kept on going, and was willing to go through it again for the sake of this boy. (We also must think of the great desire the boy had to understand the Torah. He could have easily left his learning which came to him through such difficulty.) Through this whole episode, we see the importance of transmitting Torah. Because of Rebbe Preida's patience, he not only guaranteed himself a portion in The World-to-Come, but he even guaranteed this for his WHOLE GENERATION!
This Parsha contains many Mitzvot dealing with the way we conduct ourselves with other people. These Mitzvot are called Mishpatim, judgments. A Mishpat is a command which deals with people's behavior towards each other. These are Mitzvot, which even the rest of the world recognizes. Hashem created man with a sense of what is right and wrong. Many laws that exist in the world stem from this sense, yet many others are learned. Certainly we would imagine that the world considers murder a crime. Of course, how the Torah defines murder may be very different than the way the majority of the world defines it. In ancient Greece, babies were sacrificed all the time. This was such common practice, that they regarded the Jews as a very moral people, since they didn't kill their young. The Torah not only molded the lives of the Jewish people, but mankind in general.
The Eved Ivri is a good example of how the Torah teaches us to live according to Her (the Torah's) high standard of morality.
LET'S SAY- Rob stole every dollar Bill owned. Rob has to pay back double the amount when he's caught. What if he spent the money and is broke. If this happened in America, he'd be in jail and Bill would be broke too. The Torah has a way for Rob to learn his lesson and Bill have his money back, guaranteed. The Bait Din would sell Rob as a servant to Rich. Rich is willing to pay for Rob's service. Now Rob can pay back every dollar Bill was robbed. Everyone is happy. Bill was paid back for what was robbed with the riches earned by Rob. During this time, Rob is treated as part of the Rich family. He eats the same food as them, sleeps on the same type of mattress as them, and is given jobs to do around the house which are dignified and according to his previous job. If he was a painter, he is given the job of painting etc.
IMAGINE- Mr. Ing, a poor man who is unable to afford the expenses of marrying off his daughter. Poor girl, right? Wrong! Just because this girl is Miss Ing, she too deserves an opportunity. Mr. Ing gets in touch with Buck, a well to do man who could use a helping hand around the house. Mr. Ing, who could use a buck or two, arranges that his daughter help out with the Bucks since they have it maid made. The hope is that Buck will realize that all the money he's made is nothing when there's another Jew, Miss Ing. We hope he'll take her for a wife (according to the Torah, a man may marry more that one wife. This lasted until Rabbeinu Gershom banned it approximately 1,000 years ago) but if not, at least he'll convince his son to marry her so she will no longer be Miss Ing. The Torah realizes it's normal in a situation like this to pass the Buck, so if the sun son sets his mind not to marry her, the Buck stops there. She is free to leave (after six years or at the age of twelve) before she Mrs. out on another opportunity.
LET'S SAY- Mr. Slayer accidentally killed Diane. Her family mourns her death, but perhaps her brother Adam will feel so angry that Mr. Slayer caused her to Diane die and is free to walk the streets. The mere thought of Mr. Slayer causes Adam's rage to flare up and at 'em. Of course murder is wrong, but in this case it's relative. [If someone warned Adam, but he ignored it and kills Mr. Slayer in the presence of two witnesses, he would be subject to the death penalty.] To avoid another death, this time to Mr. Slayer, the Torah provides a solution by designating six cities for him to escape to. They were known as 'Arei Miklat' (cities of refuge). There were signs posted directing Mr. Slayer to the city so he wouldn't be embarrassed asking people for directions, thereby self-incriminating himself. The Torah preserves man's dignity as much as possible.LESSON:
Let's be sensitive to the feelings of people who are in uncomfortable situations. If someone has to go to a doctor, don't point that out to others as well as the person himself. Perhaps it's for an embarrassing reason. If someone accidentally did something wrong, don't point it out. The person probably feels bad already.
LET'S SAY- Benson has quite a temper, and when he and his brother, Hedges were fighting, their mom, Mrs. Momima, tried to brake it up. Benson was so out of control, he hit his mom so hard, she bled. The Torah considers this, (AND EVEN CURSING A PARENT) so terrible that Benson's punish-ment is the same as a murderer's punishment.
LET'S SAY- Chuck threw a pan at Peter's head. Chuck must pay Peter for the damages caused to him. There are five different possible payments.
- - Nezek- the physical damage Peter suffered must be compensated.
- - Tza'ar- the physical pain Peter suffered as a result of the Chuck.
- - Ripui- the medical expenses Peter paid to regain his health.
- - Shevet- as a result of the Chuck, Peter's pan accident caused him to miss work and lose money. Chuck must pay this too.
- - Boshet- if Peter suffered embarrassment as result of the pan chucked at him, money is awarded to Peter.
After this restitution is made, we hope that this transaction pans out instead of Petering out, and Chuck makes restitution for the monies he owes.LESSON:
From the Torah's obligation that Chuck pay medical expenses to Peter, we can learn a very interesting
The Torah permits (and obligates) an unhealthy person, to seek medical attention. This might sound obvious to you or me, but we might assume that Hashem, Who controls everything in the world, would take care of a person's health. After all, when a person is sick, don't we Daven to Hashem for him a recovery? Yes! This is true. A person can only regain his health if Hashem wants him to, but Hashem commands us to guard our health and take care of ourselves. We cannot be negligent when it comes to following medical advice.
IMAGINE- there was a hot tempered farmer named Rod who had a full staff of servants . If Rod would would strike one of his staff with his rod or staff, and the servant would die immediately (within twenty four hours), Rod would be considered a murderer.
LET'S SAY- an ox kills someone, the ox is killed. Let's imagine that this ox has been known to poke around uninvited, killing people, yet the owner, Farmer Cheese, didn't put his ox under locks, than both the ox and Farmer Cheese are killed. [The owner redeems himself by paying damges to the heir of the killed person.] We are not only left with a creamed Cheese and ox, but an importantLESSON:
Your property is your responsibility. Letting a wild animal roam about, is similar to leaving a sack of fuel next to a fire. It's inevitably going to blow. We must be careful not to blow it, and certainly when dealing with an already dangerous situation, not to add fuel to the fire. If you'll tell me that it's hard to control the animal, I'll tell you to shut your trap so your animal will be guarded.
LET'S SAY- Jack Beenimble (A.K.A. Jack Be- Quick) lived in the fast lane, and used his talents to steal animals. If he should decide to pay the owners back, he would pay double of what he stole. But if he sold the animal, or slaughtered it, and was caught red handed, he would have to repay the owner 5 oxen for each ox stolen, and 4 sheep for each sheep stolen. Hey- if he only has to pay 4 sheep back, are we pulling the wool over his eyes Jacking up the price because we need more bull from this guy. If I were him, I'd be having a cow by now. In actuality, we are being taught a most incredibleLESSON:
When Jack hi-Jacked the ox, he had no choice but to walk with it through the streets as if it were his. When he stole the sheep, he sheepishly carried it on his back through the streets. This little amount of toil and embarrassment, takes away from his punishment. He received partial punishment already and only pays 4 times its' amount.
IMAGINE- it happened one sunny day, actually it was Sunday. George was playing in the forest with his friends. They refused to play house (they were too macho for that), so the settled on playing office instead. George was the boss, and he was going to fire 15,000 workers in one of his divisions. To make it all seem real, he decided to light an actual fire (or maybe he didn't understand what it meant to fire an employee). Well before you knew it, George's fire spread like wildfire (actually, it was wildfire) and spread through the weeds reaching the yard of his neighbor, Mr. (Smokey) Robinson. It was even worse, considering Mr. Robinson had a beautiful garden. The garden which George burns, has to be paid for. Boy is that George Burnt.
Although a frequent flyer sailer, one dessert Island Skip skipped, was Myliew. So off went Skip to Myliew. Skip was sure not to skip over an important matter before leaving. He left his tiny ship, the "Minnow", with his Aunt, Ms. Place. Wouldn't you know it, when he embarked on what was to be a three hour tour, a three hour tour, the weather started getting rough. He returned and asked his aunt for his tiny ship. Ms. Place explained that his tiny ship was tossed somewhere and temporarily misplaced and if not for the courage of her faithful crew the "Minnow" would be lost, the "Minnow" would be lost. Ms. Place has to swear that she didn't use the ship, and that she doesn't know its' whereabouts. (Perhaps she's hiding it on the shore of this, some charted dessert isle, with Giligan, the Skipper too...) If the ship was stolen, then the crooks pay back double the worth of the ship. This applies to anyone, the Millionaire and his wife, the mooovie star, the professor (& Mary Anne).
If Ms. Place was paid to watch the Minnow (so the Minnow wouldn't be lost, the Minnow wouldn't be lost) she must pay for the ship if it would be lost (if it would be lost) [or if it was stolen].
IMAGINE- if Mr. Ficksit borrows, let's say, the Minnow, for a three hour tour, a three hour tour and wrecks the ship. Well those are the breaks for Mr. Ficksit. Now he's up the creek without a ship. Mr. Ficksit would need to replace the shipwreck, or perhaps fix it.LESSON: A person must be careful with borrowed belongings.
Rav Yisroel Salanter was seen on Erev Yom Kippur bringing a cat in the hat house. It seems he borrowed Seforim (books) and was concerned about the possibility of mice nibbling on them while he would be in Shul. He deemed it necessary to guard the Seforim to this extent, since he is responsible for them now.
A different time, he was visiting a neighboring village, scheduled to speak in the Shul. Since it was raining, someone lent him an umbrella to walk to the Shul. He didn't let that umbrella leave his sight for a moment. Even as he stood before the crowd to speak, he kept the umbrella by his side.
LET'S SAY- In a town out west, (further west than New Jersey) lived a real swell goy named Mr. Howdy Stranger. Mr. Stranger was not born Jewish, but always felt that he was connected to Judaism. Whenever he was called a cowboy, he thought he heard Jewboy. He started learnin' what the Torah is, even during his younger days on the corral. When he got older, he hopped on the band wagon and headed for the City o' Gold yonder over the horizon, Yerushalayim. He converted and became an active, devout Jew. Now how do you suppose this rootin' tootin' cowboy feels 'mongst his fellow Jews? maybe a lil' sensitive 'bout his past. We are commanded by Hashem not to hurt his feelings in any way. Imagine what he might feel if you would say to him, "I bet back on the ranch with the Waltons you never had a Cholent as mean as this?!" He doesn't want to be reminded of his past. He began anew and must feel part of it. This would also apply if someone came to school from a foreign country. We should go out of our way to make this person feel accepted (Boruch Hashem we do that). Hashem tells us that we must not oppress a 'Ger' (Convert, or Foreigner) in any way, for we were foreigners in Mitzrayim. We should be sensitive to the feelings of a foreigner. Someone who has a disadvantage which we do too, of him we certainly cannot offend. "A blemish which you have, don't tell your friend that he has it" (since you do too- who are you to talk?).
Hashem forewarns us about mistreating a widow and orphan. He tells us the He listens to their cries and we should be careful not to hurt their feelings. First the widow (a woman whose husband died)STORY:
There was a widow who was thrown out of her home because she couldn't afford to pay the rent. It was in the heart of the Russian winter and she had nowhere to go. The Chofetz Chaim recorded in his journal the incident and wrote how he waited to see how Hashem would deal with this cold-hearted individual who caused this woman to suffer. Years later, he found out that the man was bitten by a rabid dog (a dog with rabies) and the man started howling and barking. He didn't live much longer.STORY:
The Talmidim of Rav Yisroel Salanter once asked their Rebbe during Matzoh baking what kavnah (intentions mediations) they should have. Rav Yisroel Salanter quickly replied “have in mind not to rush or upset the woman kneading the dough for she is a widow. The Kashrut of the Matzoh is only complete with the careful observance of your conduct with another Jew.STORY:
Now about the orphan (a child whose mother or father died)
It was Simchat Torah and the 'Klausenberger' Rebbe was with his Chassidim in their community in Netanya (Eretz Yisroel). Their custom was for the Rebbe to dance in the middle of all the Chassidim, while embracing his small Sefer Torah. Around the Rebbe would dance the older talmedei chachomim. The young children would sit in a circle around the dancing, watching the beautiful sight. The young boys and newly married men would sit on the bleachers that circled the Bait Medrash.
In the middle of the hakafos, (dancing around with the Torah) the Rebbe stopped in his tracks. The thousands of Chassidim didn't know what to make of this. Everyone waited to see what caused the Rebbe to stop in the height of his religious ecstasy. The Rebbe looked up at the young men and boys on the bleachers. He pointed out 2 brothers whose father recently died leaving the boys orphaned. He called for them and danced with them as if he was their own father. This was what the Rebbe shifted his mind to, during the holy time of Simchat Torah!
The Torah tells us that when we lend money to another Jew, we shouldn't be a nudge to collect it. We shouldn't put pressure on the borrower if he doesn't have the money yet.STORY:
The Chofetz Chaim owned a grocery store and allowed his customers to buy on credit ("I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today"). He avoided walking in front of the homes of those who owed him money, lest he pressure them unnecessarily.
Certainly, the borrower must be diligent in repaying his loan. Chazal (our Chachomim) teach us that a person must regard another person's money (and possessions) as dear to him as his own.STORY:
Reb Garfinkle went to the bank to repay a loan, but the bank had no record of the transaction. Although he could have walked off without anyone saying BOO, he insisted on the bank accepting his payment. He suggested to them to do an inquiry and after some time, they discovered he was correct (I'm sure he made a 'Kiddush Hashem' by his behavior).
Lend me your ears and I'll repay you with an interesting Mitzvah- so you'll gain.LESSON:
IMAGINE- if Johnny Cash lent Max-a-million buckaroos (dollars), upon the payback, Max is allowed to repay Johnny Cash, a million max . Any more (even a gift- or a 'thank you!') would be considered a matter of interest and prohibited.
Hashem provides us with our needs and teaches us to share with others. What make a person great is not what he has, but what he's willing to part with. In this case it's temporary. Think of all the chasodim you can perform by lending others your possessions (or money).STORY:
When Rav Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz-Teumim (the Rav of Yerushalayim) would travel, he took along a bag full of items which other travelers might need to borrow. This is a simple act of Chessed which we all could emulate.
Major I. Tee brought his neighbor, Mr. Meaner, to the Bait Din. The Major put up a good fence to make good neighbors (since good fences make good neighbors). He accused Mr. Meaner of a small offense regarding who rules over the fence, since it was built on both pieces of property. Major I. Tee is on the offense and Mr. Meaner on the Defense. If the majority of the members of the Bait Din rule in favor of Major I. Tee, then the Major I. Tee rules over the fence, since the majority rules. Mr. Meaner who is on the defense, doesn't rule the fence, and the offense rules over a fence. Hopefully the defense doesn't take offense to the ruling of the majority favoring Major I. Tee on the offense. The Torah addresses Mr. Meaner, warning him not to curse the judges or any ruler. If he does, this is no misdemeanor for Mr. Meaner.
Hans Heinz, an immigrant from Hamburg, Germany, was looking to start a business in this country. He wanted to be America's #1 catch up success, so he had a big whopper idea, to bring a partner from his hometown, Mr. Frank Hamburger into his business. Although Heinz was 57, he figure it's never too late to catch up. Despite the fact that he was thick and a bit slow moving, he gained enough popularity and was rich. Now he wants to be on his own, so he accuses his partner of stealing his pet dogs. He needed another person to be a witness with him against Frank, so he contacts a old buddy of his living in France, named Dijon. Even though he only spoke French, Dijon mustered up the courage to join hands with Hans with his evil plan. They go to court and are ready to give their story, but the defendant has not yet arrived. The Bait Din may not hear Hans' & Dijon's case until Frank shows up. It seems that he must have overslept, since he stumbled in, half asleep, in his blanket. Frank's in blankets, but nevertheless, takes the stand. Hans & Dijon state their false claim against Mr. Hamburger. Now he's asked: "Frank, it's time to spill the (baked) beans, why are you keeping the stolen dog thing quiet?" He says to the Bait Din; "I'll be Frank with you (and with everyone), I've never been involved with any hot dogs, nor am I attempting to hush puppies." They ask if he's covering up anything, but his answer is, "Perhaps you should ask Heinz about covering up; people don't even know about the truth about the real Frank Hamburger, when they can drown it out and cover it up with Heinz and Dijon."
The truth emerges, and the Bait Din puts Frank Hamburger on the back burner, and deals with Hans and Dijon. Heinz is bright red as he pours out his heart, now that he's been caught red handed. Dijon adds some spice by crying till he turns yellow.
there was a member of the Bait Din named J.J. (Judd Jing) Fahyerly. The Bait Din has to decide on a certain case, when in walks Mr. Mike Rafone. All of a sudden, J.J. Fahyerly announces his disqualification from the case. What's going on here? It turns out, one time, Mr. Fahyerly was scheduled to speak at the Town's fare. The weather was fair, but he lost his voice the night before. He was really upset, thinking how unfair it would be to the people who paid their fair share of the fare to miss out on his fairly good speech. All of a sudden, as if the fairy godmother heard him (or maybe just G-d), Mr. Mike Rafone sets up a speaker for the audience and a microphone for the speaker. All knew that judging from their past encounter, there was no way Judd Jing Fahyerly could be judging fairly. Even to Judd, he knew that if it was up to him, he knew how Mike would fare. Similarly, the Torah warns a judge from taking a bribe. A judge who receives a bribe cannot see the truth of the matter. He is blinded by the bribe he accepted. A bribe can be anything positive which causes a judge to have a positive feeling towards the person standing before him.
For this reason, the Torah warns a judge not for favor a poor person. A judge mustn't think; "Poor guy, if I can help him win this case, he'll make lots of money and he'll be rich." No! It's not up to us to 'play G-d'. If there's no honest way for him to be rich, the poor guy will stay the way he is. The Torah certainly wants of us to help one another in every way possible. But the Torah defines for us what's possible and what isn't.FOR EXAMPLE:
You're standing around in the square playing your triangle eating oval (or is it Orville?) Redenbokker popcorn, when you see an octagon ox that's gone away from it's home. You look at the tag which reeds: 'N.M.E. #1' You think to yourself (it's better than talking to yourself), "Do I know of any N.M.E.#1? Yes, I do, this ox belongs to N.M.E.#1. I found the ox of my enemy number one." Now what should you do? The Torah teaches us to return it. By doing that, you gain tremendously. For starters, what do you loose by returning it? You loose an enemy. We learn from this a great rule of relationships as well as aLESSON:
We improve on relationships and feel a love towards people who we give of ourselves to. A feeling of closeness is developed when you give to someone. A Mother loves her baby, because she gives so much to it. This is true of all relationships, giving brings you to love. Additionally, you become a better person by going against your natural feeling to let your enemy lose out. Remember this LESSON:
Anytime you overcome your urge to do something bad, you become better.
This can apply to a case if you see the donkey of your enemy collapsed by its' heavy load, help your enemy pick it up.
Q- What if your enemy is kickin' back, and not attempting to help you with his donkey?
A- Don't help him. A person who won't help himself times of trouble, it is of little value (if any) to help him. Such a person needs a different type of help.
There was a girl named Farah Weih from the town of Alai. She moved out of town and made a new friend, Edison. When Edison asked why she moved, she made up a sad story about some wolf. She got a lot of attention when she would con Edison into believing her emotionally moving tale. She would then break down and cry, "Wolf, Wolf." Edison was supportive of her, saying; "Stay- Farah Weih from Alai!" When the truth came out, and Edison heard that she was merely crying wolf, he quoted from the Torah; "Stay far away from a lie!"
Amongst many other Mitzvot, we have the Mitzvah of appearing in the Bait HaMikdash 3 times a year (when we had the Bait HaMikdash). These times (Pesach, Shvuot & Sukkot) are known as the "Shalosh R'galim."
Another Mitzvah is not to cook a kid in its' mother's milk.
WHAT??? We're not witches- we don't cook kids in anything! (We do include our children for dinner, but that's to eat dinner). Actually, the kid we're referring to is a kid goat- Ha, I bet I got your goad for a second there. The Mitzvah is that we are not allowed to cook meat (the kid) with milk together. The Torah actually says it 3 times. Each time teaches us another Halacha regarding milk & meat:
- - Don't cook them together
- - Don't eat them together (no cheeseburgers)
- - Don't benefit from mixing them together (no cheeseburgers for the dog)
The Parsha ends with Hashem's warnings and promises regarding our entry into Eretz Yisroel. Then we learn about the events of the 5th day of Sivan, the day proceeding the giving of the Torah (which we learned about in last week's Parsha).© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
The bottom line is (besides the last line on the page), be a good Jew by following Hashem's guidelines and we should enjoy all the great benefits, and have a
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