Emphasis of Mishpatim

The Parsha begins ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם. Rashi says:

אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה לא תעלה על דעתך לומר אשנה להם הפרק וההלכה ב' או ג' פעמים עד שתהא סדורה בפיהם כמשנתה, ואיני מטריח עצמי להבינם טעמי הדבר ופירושו, לכך נאמר אשר תשים לפניהם, כשלחן הערוך ומוכן לאכול לפני האדם.

Hashem told Moshe that he shouldn’t just teach Klal Yisrael the Torah a few times until they are well versed and not explain the טעמי המצות rather he should teach them with their טעמים. But this is quite surprising because every educator and teacher knows that the most important thing is that the Talmid should understand the underlying idea and then he will be able to retain what he is learning more than just reciting it over and over without understanding the idea behind what he is learning. So why would Moshe Rabbeinu think that he should just teach in a way of אשנה להם הפרק וההלכה ב' או ג' פעמים עד שתהא סדורה בפיהם without explaining the reasons?

It’s interesting the Yerushalmi in Avoda Zarah Chapter 2:7 is דורש the Pasuk ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם מה הסימה הזאת אינה נגלית לכל בריה כך אין לך רשות לשקע את עצמך בדברי תורה אלא לפני בני אדם כשרין that just like a שימה-a precious stone/treasure is not revealed to all, so too the Torah should not be revealed to all rather it should be concealed and only reveled in certain circumstances. We see from the same exact words, תשים לפניהם, that the Mechilta learns Torah should be made accessible and explained in its fullest כשלחן הערוך ומוכן לאכול לפני האדם, Reb Shimon Bar Yochai learns that Torah should be concealed.

Reb Yishmael in the Mechilta, as quoted by the first Rashi, says ואלה מוסיף על הראשונים, מה הראשונים מסיני, אף אלו מסיני that just like those, the Aseres Hadibros were given at Sinai, so to the Mishpatim were given at Sinai. There is a Machlokes between Reb Akiva and Reb Yishmael in Chagigah 6a if only the כללות were given at Har Sinai and the פרטים were given באהל מועד and it was repeated in ערבות מואב or everything was said at Sinai. Reb Akiva holds that both כללות ופרטים were given at Sinai and they were repeated באהל מועד and a third time at ערבות מואב. But Reb Yishmael holds that only the כללות were given at Sinai and the פרטים were given באהל מועד. Therefore it can be understood why Reb Yishmael was the one to be דורש the ואלה to say מה הראשונים מסיני, אף אלו מסיני that just like the Aseres Hadibros were said כללים ופרטים so to the following Mishpatim were said כללים ופרטים unlike the rest of the Mitzvos. However Reb Akiva in the Mechilta disagrees with Reb Yishmael and has a different drashah and says מה הראשונים באתה הראת לדעת אף אלו באתה הראת לדעת. We don’t understand the meaning of this drashah but it’s clear that he is not making Reb Yishmael’s drashah because according to him, there is not room for that drashah.

However according to this, the Ohr Hachaim asks on Rashi that bringing the drashah ואלה מוסיף על הראשונים, מה הראשונים מסיני, אף אלו מסיני is going along the opinion of Reb Yishmael. However, in the beginning of Parshas Behar, Rashi, quoting the Toras Kohanim, says מה ענין שמיטה אצל הר סיני, והלא כל המצות נאמרו מסיני, אלא מה שמיטה נאמרו כללותיה ופרטותיה ודקדוקיה מסיני, אף כולן נאמרו כללותיהן ודקדוקיהן מסיני-just like Shmitaנאמרו כללותיה ופרטותיה ודקדוקיה מסיני so too all the Mitzvos נאמרו כללותיהן ודקדוקיהן מסיני. This drashah seems to be going with the opinion of Reb Akiva that כללותיה ופרטותיה נאמרו בסיני and therefore Rashi is contradicting himself from the beginning of Mishpatim and Behar?

It would seem that Rashi holds that which Reb Yishmael holds in the Mechilta אף אלו מסיני is not only according to his own opinion but even if we hold that all the כללים ופרטים ודקדוקים were said at Sinai, there it still room to be דורש the ואלה המשפטים to teach us that the Mishpatim were said at Sinai. The reason is because in Parshas Beshalach, the Pasuk says שם שם לו חק ומשפט ושם נסהו (טו,כה) and Rashi says במרה נתן להם מקצת פרשיות של תורה שיתעסקו בהם, שבת ופרה אדומה ודינין. One could’ve thought that the דינין-the Mishpatim that were said in מרה were not repeated at Sinai and therefore the Pasuk ואלה המשפטים needs to tell us that they were repeated at Sinai.

However, this explanation is difficult because Para Aduma and Kibud Av were also said at מרה. Therefore by the same means that there needed to be a special drashah to teach us that the Mishpatim were repeated at Sinai, there should also be a special drashah teaching us that Parah Aduma and Kibud Av were repeated at Sinai even though they were already taught in מרה.

It would therefore seem that there is a special emphasis on the fact that the Mishpatim in particular were repeated at Sinai. This could be because Mishpatim are שכלי-the logical Mitzvos and Sinai was about the divine revelation קולות וברקים וקול שופר and with all the supernatural effects. One would have thought that Mishpatim which are logical maybe weren’t given in such a dramatic context because they are something people understand on their own. Therefore the Torah emphasis ואלה המשפטים- מה הראשונים מסיני, אף אלו מסיני that even the Mishpatim were given at Sinai. Although they are logical and they are Mitzvos a person could seemingly figure out on his own, nevertheless they were given in the context of the supernatural revelation at Sinai.

People usually attach religious significance and meaning to the Mitzvos we don’t understand as if Religion is in competition with logic. As opposed to the other Mitzvos which we do understand usually doesn’t excite people as much. Regarding Mitzvos which are seemingly irrational, there is an appeal towards those Mitzvos. It would seem to be backwards because something that a person understands should sit well with him as opposed to something which is doesn’t understand. However it could be the reason is because things that we don’t understand we assume are above and beyond and more important. But the things which we do understand are less important and therefore have less of an appeal. Therefore there is an emphasis on Mishpatim, the laws we seemingly understand, to teach us that there is more to these Mitzvos than we really understand.

The רע"ב in the beginning of Avos says the following:

משה קבל תורה מסיני - אומר אני, לפי שמסכת זו אינה מיוסדת על פירוש מצוה ממצות התורה כשאר מסכתות שבמשנה, אלא כולה מוסרים ומדות, וחכמי אומות העולם ג"כ חברו ספרים כמו שבדו מלבם בדרכי המוסר כיצד יתנהג האדם עם חבירו, לפיכך התחיל התנא במסכת זו משה קבל תורה מסיני, לומר לך שהמדות והמוסרים שבזו המסכתא לא בדו אותם חכמי המשנה מלבם אלא אף אלו נאמרו בסיני

The idea is that even though all of Avos discusses Middos and things that are שכלי, nevertheless its משה קיבל תורה מסיני that even these principles were given to Moshe at Sinai.

This past week כה שבט was the Yahrzeit of Reb Yisrael Salanter and his Talmidim used to say that כה שבט can only fall out during the week of Parshas Mishpatim. They would say the reason is because Reb Yisrael’s life’s mission was to teach people about the importance of בין אדם לחבירו which is what Mishpatim is all about.

Reb Yisrael died in Konigsberg, Germany without any of his Talmidim and he was only with one simple Bachur who was taking care of him. After Reb Yisrael died, his Talmidim asked this Bachur what the Rebbe was dong before he died, was he saying viduy, etc. The Bachur responded nothing in particular and he didn’t have much to tell them until he reminded himself that Reb Yisrael was actually making joke with him. Reb Yisrael told him that people are afraid of a dead person and they think they are dangerous. But the truth is there is nothing to be afraid of because a dead person can’t do anything. After hearing that, the Talmidim understood that Reb Yisrael was worried after he dies, this Bochur would be alone with the dead body to watch it overnight and he will be afraid and panic. So he was trying to calm him down by telling him there is nothing to be afraid of with a dead body. We can see that Reb Yisrael even at the end of his life was preoccupied with בין אדם לחבירו and was willing to sacrifice his own personal viduy just to make sure another person wouldn’t suffer.

Therefore, even according to Reb Akiva who says all Mitzvos כללותיה פרטותיה were said at Sinai, there is a special emphasis on משפטים being given in the context of Sinai in order to stress this point that even the laws which are seemingly logical and שכלי were given at Sinai and it’s all part of Torah that was given at Sinai.

By Mitzvos that are שכלי, the idea is that the Ribono Shel Oilam reveals himself to us sometimes outside the context of our שכל and sometimes through our שכל. When the Gemara says למה לי קרא סברא היא, a סברא is also the divine revelation. Similarly, the Ibn Ezra in his Hakdamah writes והמלאך בין אדם ובין אלקיו הוא שכלו. Also in Tehilim 2:2, the Pasuk says יתיצבו מלכי ארץ ורוזנים נוסדו יחד על ה' ועל משיחו-they gang up against Hashem and his crowned prince. The Ibn Ezra explains what it means על ה'-that they gang up on Hashem: וטעם על ה' שיצאו מתחת יד שקול הדעת שנטע השם בלב כל אדם. Going against שקול הדעת is what is considered ganging up on Hashem so we see that שקול הדעת is the divine expression.

This could also explain the concept עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי because what does it mean עד דלא ידע, one would think the difference between Haman and Mordechai is rather obvious. But really what we need to know and instill is that the obvious is not really obvious and what you see is not what you get and there is more to something than what meets the eye.

A Genuine Real Expression

כי תראה חמור שנאך רבץ תחת משאו וחדלת מעזב לו עזב תעזב עמו (כג,ה)

Rashi explains that the word עזיבה in this context means עזרה which reads very nicely into the Pasuk. However, the word עזב also means to abandon so how would that translation fit into the Pasuk?

On the words עזב תעזב עמו, Onkeles writes משבק תשבוק מא דבלבך עלוהי ותפריק עמיה which means that which you have in your heart against someone you should remove from your heart. The Targum Yonason Ben Uziel explains more as the Gemara in Pesachim 113b says that the Pasuk is referring to someone who did an עבירה and you should have שנאה towards him. However in the moment that you are helping him, you should remove any negative feelings towards him. The point is the Torah doesn’t want a person to just act properly towards someone else but that it needs to be a genuine real expression of one’s inner feeling and therefore in the בשעת מעשה, one must abandon his feelings.

In a similar vein, on the Pasuk אם כסף תלוה, the Maharal explains why the Torah uses the word אם if it’s really an obligation. He writes that if a person helps somebody else because it’s a Mitzvah, then he isn’t really doing the Mitzvah properly. In order to do the Mitzvah properly, he should do it as if it’s not a Mitzvah but because he really cares. Similarly, the Ksav Sofer says this idea on his own on the Pasuk אם כסף תלוה.

Not Giving Up Hope

וגנב איש ומכרו ונמצא בידו מות יומת (כא,טז)

גנבת נפש is always in the face of the person that you are stealing. Therefore, it should be defined as גזלה and not גנבה. The Minchas Chinuch in Mitzvah 36 writes וחיוב זה דוקא בגנב אבל לא בגזלן כי כתיב וגונב וגם לא תגנוב but he doesn’t explain why that it should be considered גנבה if it’s in front of the נגנב. There is also a ספק in the Gemara Sanhedrin 85b whether or not there is a חיוב of גנבת נפש by a sleeping person because he might have to be awake. So if to be חייב, he needs to be awake, then how could it be a גנבה and not a גזלה?

It could be possible to say that the Pasuk in Ki Seitzei 24:7 saysכי ימצא איש גנב נפש מאחיו מבני ישראל. The Gemara in Sanhedrin 86a learns from here that if the kidnapper sold the kidnapped kid to his family, then he is פטור because the Pasuk says מאחיו and the Gemara says עד שיבדלנו מאחיו-that he needs to be separated from his brothers and so Paskens the Rambam in Hilchos Gneivah 3:7. It would seem from this that the גנבה is not from the person himself but from his relatives and therefore it really could be דרך גנבה because his family is unaware. So says Reb Betzalel Asheknazi in שו"ת ס' לט.

However, the question is that the Gemara in Bava Kama 68b says by גנבת נפש that there is no יאוש. Rashi says the reason is becauseשאין אדם מתייאש על עצמו. According to this Rashi, it seems that when a person steals a person, the person himself is the בעלים and not the family that you are stealing him from himself and מאחיו is just another requirement. But at the end of the day, the person himself is the נגנב because we say שאין אדם מתייאש על עצמו.

על דרך דרוש it could be explained that really it’s like Reb Betzalel Ashkenazi that the נגנב is from his family. But the explanation of שאין אדם מתייאש על עצמו is that since a person doesn’t give up hope on himself, his family doesn’t either. So really his family is the נגנב but if they would be worried that the person kidnapped would be מתייאש על עצמו, then they would be worried that they’ll never see him again. But since אין אדם מתייאש על עצמו, then his family is confident that he will resurface one day because since he is not מיאש, they aren’t מייאש.


Thursday Night Parsha Shiur


Revealing and Concealing Torah 5772