Parshas Mishpatim:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon

Parshas Mishpatim:

Pasuk(21:2, 21:5-6):

"If you buy a Jewish slave...and the slave says that he doesn't want to go free, for he loves his master, his wife(Shifcha Kenanis) and children.

The master must then bring him to court, and bring him to a door or door post, and his master shall bore through his ear with an pick, and he shall serve him forever."

In Pasuk(22:2):

"...if he has nothing, he should be sold for his theft."

Rashi on Pasuk(21:1), writes that this slave that we are dealing with in the Pasuk is someone who stole from others and was caught. The court then sold him, to raise funds to pay the victims of his theft.

After six years of enslavement, the slave is to be sent free.

If the slave does not want to go free, he is then brought to court and the master must bore a whole through his ear.

Pick, 400 Years:


The Baalei Tosfos bring down that specifically a "Martzeaih(pick)" was used because the Bnei Yisroel were slaves for 400 years in Egypt, and Hashem then redeemed us from the hard labor, "for we are Avadim to Hashem and not slaves to another slave".

Since this slave went ahead and bought himself a master, he is bored in his ear with a "Martzeiah", which has the Gematriah of 400.

"Mem" - 40 "Reish" - 200 "Tzadik" - 90 "Ayin" - 70 = 400.

This is equal to the years of enslavement that the Bnei Yisroel had in Mitzrayim, and this slave returned himself to his previous state of enslavement. Thus Mida K' Neged Mida.



Rashi brings down that Rav Yochanan Ben Zakai said, "this ear that heard you shall not steal, at Har Sinai, went ahead and stole, therefor he is bored in his ear.

Rav Shimon Schwab asks, why do we punish the ear now that he decides to remain enslaved to his master? Shouldn't he have been punished right after he was caught stealing or when he was first sold as a slave, why Davkah now?

Also asks Rav S. Schwab, what was said at Har Sinai?

At Har Sinai we were commanded not to steal, "Lo Tignov", this is talking about kidnapping a person, and not stealing articles, so how can we say that he was punished for not listening at Har Sinai?

The thief in our Pasuk stole articles and not human beings!

So he explains that the "stealing of a soul", is not talking about stealing a son from a mother, or a husband from a wife, rather it is talking about stealing a soul from Hashem, for he prevents the other from being a complete "Eved Hashem". Thus in reality, a person that brings upon himself further enslavement, is in essence stealing a soul from Hashem, which we were commanded about. Now that he willingly wants to become a slave he deserves to be punished.

Thus by this slave remaining with his master, he is guilty not only for stealing money, but also for stealing a soul. Thus now, that he didn't listen to what was said at Har Sinai, he is punished by piercing his ear.

Good and Bad:


The Mashgiach of Ponevitch (Yad Yechezkal) writes that there are two types of people who are in a stage of distancing themselves from Hashem.

One type is that generally he is a good person, however his evil inclination slowly works on him, and he shows signs of slowly giving into his evil inclination. This person is in danger, even though from the outside, it may not seem it. Small holes have a tendency of getting bigger.

The other type of person is who has already left the path of good, and has fallen and is already far from good, yet he has a small spark of light in him, and he starts to fight his evil inclination, and tries to overcome his urges. This person is guaranteed that if he keeps up his fight, and he doesn't give up, he will win at the end, even though now it he seems to be completely off the right path.

In the Yeshiva of Kelm, they would say, if one does not have Kavanah when he Davens, and slowly he tries to have more Kavanah in his Prayers, he is higher than one who is used to Davening with Kavanah and now he is slacking a bit, even if only on a few words, and even if he has great intent when he Davens.

When one Davens to Hashem, he must feel that the Tefilah changed him, he is now a different person. The Kuzari writes that Tefilah is like our daily meals, we Daven three times a day. Just like we are required to eat for our body to function, we also need a spiritual refill for our Neshama. The energy that we receive in each Tefilah is not to disappear after our Tefilah, when we rush off to work, yet it is supposed to remain a part of us, all the way till our next "spiritual meal".

For when one starts falling, ones evil inclination will pull him down further, however, one who has already reached the bottom, he only has the ability to go up. One who is now surrounded by bad, he feels that he is now on a low level, and the heat of his passion has already cooled down, this person has the ability to be affected by thoughts of repentance.

Rav Kook brings down in his Sefer "Ein Ha Ayah", that the Ramchal writes that it is better to have evil doers in this world with their downfall, than not to have any at all.

This is the reason why only after six years is the servant bored in his ear, for in the beginning, when he started to fall, the piercing of his ear wouldn't have helped at that time, only now, that he married a Shifcha Kenanis, and he wants to remain a slave, here we are commanded to punish him. For Davkah now in his present state, he will maybe see his low state and want to head upwards. And since he decides otherwise, now is the time to punish him, for not trying to leave his lowly state, and to return to the right path.

Comes the Sfas Emes and asks, why punish the ear, when the actual stealing was done by his hands?

Answers the Sfas Emes and says that if the ear would have listened, the hands wouldn't have stolen.

Rabbi A.J. Twerski (Living Each Day) explains that if one associated himself with people who are evildoers, one cannot escape from being affected by them.

Just like one can be affected by hearing loud noises constantly and ones eyes can be damaged by seeing bright light, the same is on the spiritual level.

By one seeing and hearing gossip and slander daily, on the news, at work...it affects that person spiritually and slowly causes him damage.

By one constantly hearing improper sounds, he may become insensitive to Hashem's word, and thus he begins to also transgress the Mitzvos.

Just like we wear protective lenses, and ear plugs when working in a physically harmful situation, the same is in the spiritual realm, one must try his outmost to avoid exposure to improper stimuli. (Rabbi A.J. Twerski)

5 cows and 4 sheep:


As we said above, the robber was sold as a slave because he stole property and was unable to pay back the owner.

Further on in the Parsha we are told that if one steals an ox or a sheep or goat, and slaughters it or sells it, he is required to pay 5 cattle for the one that he stole, and four sheep in place of the one sheep. (Pasuk 21:37)

Rashi tells us that the one who stole the sheep pays less for what he stole, than the one who stole the cow.

He gives the explanation that when one steals a sheep, he carried it on his shoulder in order to run away faster. This brings on the thief public embarrassment, thus the thief already received a partial punishment.

Comes Rav Simcha Zissel of Kelm and comments that even though a thief is usually not the type of person to be sensitive of what others think about him, and we look at him as a tough personality, yet the Torah shows concern for the thief.

Rav Henach Leibowitz comes and asks, if this thief was embarrassed by caring the sheep on his shoulders, why did he steal the sheep?

Rather it should be the opposite, for certainly when he ran away with the sheep he was happy inside him, for he was doing what he liked doing, stealing.

Comes Rav Henach Leibowitz and explains that really the robber was embarrassed, otherwise the Torah would require him to repay 5 and not 4 sheep. Yet he still went ahead and stole, for the thief didn't feel that by doing this act he was actually embarrassing himself.

For when he is in the midst of his robbery, he has an inner feeling of sadness and depression, yet he doesn't know that it is from this act. So he continues to rob, hoping that this will take him out of his sad state, yet it doesn't, and he gets worse and worse.

At times people think that it would bring them happiness if they do certain wrongful acts, yet the truth is that it really adds to ones sadness.

We find this when people take up smoking, over-eating, drugs, alcoholic beverages...

At times people think and hope that these things will help take care of their problems, rather it just increases them, and makes him fall deper and deper into these misleading satisfactions.

He comes and tells us what we can learn out from this:

We can see that most people are sensitive by nature, and it is very easy to embarrass another person and to cause another pain.

Also, at times a person may do an act which will cause him pain and even embarrass himself, and yet he wont realize that Davkah this is what put him in his bad mood.

So we must keep to the Torah and listen to Hashem, for only the creator knows what brings true happiness and only Hashem is the one who knows the inner feelings of each person. Not all strong people on the outside, are always strong on the inside.

This type of feeling is the type of a feeling a mother and father have for a son who stole, even though he did wrong, there is still a recognition for his embarrassment. We are Hashem's children, and even when we do wrong, Hashem feels for us even the slight pain that one may feel doing a wrongful act. (Darcei Mussar).





This week we read the first of the four Parshios, which falls out on Shabbosim before Pesach.

We read a special addition after the main Torah reading, in the place of Maftir.

This weeks addition is called Parshas Shekalim, which is read on the Shabbos before Rosh Chodesh Adar, and is the Adar closes to Nissan(during a leap year). We read from Parshas Ki-Sisa (30:11-16). This addition deals with the counting of the Bnei Yisroel.

When Rosh Chodesh Adar falls out on a weekday (even on Friday, like this year), it is read as we said above before Rosh Chodesh, and the next Shabbos we don't read Parshas Zachor, which is the second of the four Parshios.

However, when Rosh Chodesh Adar falls out on a Shabbos, we read Parshas Shekalim on that Shabbos and the next week we read Zachor(not this year). (Taken from the Sefer Otzar Dinim U'Minhagim).

What is a Perek?


One who takes a look at this weeks Parsha, (22:1) will see something that is a bit unclear.

The beginning of Perek 22, seems to start right in middle of the previous topic.

Shouldn't the Perek start at the beginning of a new topic?

So I will try to give an explanation on this adapted from the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash (A great companion)(http://join.virtual.co.il/cgi-win/artscroll.exe/STO+41154)

The Torah has no chapters in it. The chapters which we see in our Chumashim were introduced into printed editions of the Torah (Chumashim), by non-Jewish Italian printers. These printers, did not take into account the interpretations of the Torah, as it was given to us at Har-Sinai.

Thus one may find chapters which seem to stop in the wrong places, and chapters which are exceptionally long, and should really be divided in the middle, into two separate chapters.

However, there is in the Torah different divisions (called Parshios Ptuchos and Stumos) which is signified by spaces between blocks of text. These divisions are the original divisions revealed to Moshe through prophecy. There is an ancient Jewish tradition called Sedarim, in which the Torah (5 Books) is divided into 154 portions. This was customary when the public Torah reading took three years to complete.

Today the public Torah reading is divided into 53 weekly portions and the Torah is thus completed once a year. (Adapted from Ohr Somayach http://www.ohr.org.il/ask/ask197.htm#Q4)