Parshas Mishpatim 5782
1 – Topic – A Thought on Eved Ivri
As we prepare for Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim on one of those rare years where Parshas Mishpatim is not Parshas Shekalim. The beginning of the Parsha of course begins with the Parsha of Eved Ivri and of course that is also the Haftorah of Parshas Mishpatim which deals with the topic of Eved Ivri. Let me share a thought or two on this topic.
The Shaarei Teshuva of Rabbeinu Yonah in Cheilek Gimmel, Siman Zayin says a Davar Chiddush. We know there is a Parsha of Eved and it happens to be that for us today in the 21st century the Parsha appears to not be Nogea at all. Slavery has been abolished and even voluntary slavery where someone sells himself on his own into slavery doesn’t exist and we don’t have Avadim at all in our day and age. However, Rabbeinu Yonah says that there is one aspect of the Halachos, and the Dinim with dealing with an Eved Ivri which does apply all the time.
One of the Halachos regarding an Eved Ivri which is in Parshas Behar is 25:46 (וּבְאַחֵיכֶם בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ בְּאָחִיו, לֹא-תִרְדֶּה בוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ). Which means that even when someone is a servant, a person is commanded not to work with him with undue strictness, with very hard work. Rabbeinu Yonah says a Chiddush. He says that even if someone is not an Eved, if it is just a life situation where there are two individuals and one person has the influence or the ability to pressure another person. He might be that person’s boss, he might be that person’s superior at work, or he might be somebody who just because of societal setting is more influential and more important than other people who feel subservient to him. When you have such a situation where one person has the ability to put pressure on a second, there is a responsibility that one person not pressure another person to do favors for him. It is unfortunately a common thing of people who need favors who take advantage of others who have to come on to them.
Rabbeinu Yonah says Lo Yishtabeid Adam L’chaveiro, V’aimaso Aleihem. If for some reason the second person has fear of the first person, or they are just embarrassed not to listen to that person, he should not tell them do me a favor big or small. He gives examples, don’t ask him to cook up some water for you, don’t ask him to go the store and buy things for you. The idea being that a person is not supposed to force someone else to do something.
Rabbeinu Yonah gives an exception if you have someone who is misbehaving and you can pressure him or somehow influence him, then you do. But by Anashim Mehuganim, by proper people it is an important corollary of the Issur of servitude and not to even temporarily for a moment take advantage of the ability to pressure someone else.
The Middos of the Torah include Chesed and Gevurah, the first two Middos the Middos of Avraham and Yitzchok. Chesed is an outwardly Middah. It is a Middah where you influence others. It is a Middah of kindness, worrying about people’s comfort. Chesed is an outward Middah.
A warped Chesed is when someone is worried about his own comfort, about his own benefit. It is a warped Middah of Chesed. Chesed is an outward Middah. You worry about someone else. When you are worried about your pleasure it is a warped Middah of Chesed. In the Parsha of Znus it says Chesed Hu. The Torah actually uses the Lashon once where it is a warped Chesed.
The Middah of Gevurah is discipline. Discipline is the opposite. It is an inward Middah. You are supposed to discipline yourself. That is a fine Middah. When someone takes the Middah of discipline and uses it to discipline others, to pressure others, to take advantage of others, to have Gevurah against others, that is a warped Middah. That is the Middah that Rabbeinu Yonah is warning us about. And so, there is a lesson from the Parsha of the Eved Ivri that applies today and that is the idea that a person who can pressure someone else to do something for him should be careful not to take advantage of his position.
2 – Topic – A Thought on the Haftorah
Let’s move on to a sentence in this week’s Haftorah. In this week’s Haftorah the Navi admonishes the Jewish people about dealing with an Eved Ivri properly and in doing so he says Yirmiya 34:13 ( כֹּה-אָמַר יְרוָר, אֱלֹרי יִשְׂרָאֵל: אָנֹכִי, כָּרַתִּי בְרִית אֶת-אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם, בְּיוֹם הוֹצִאִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים לֵאמֹר). When I took the Jewish people out of Egypt, on that day I said to them (מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים תְּשַׁלְּחוּ אִישׁ אֶת-אָחִיו הָעִבְרִי אֲשֶׁר-יִמָּכֵר לְךָ).You have to send out the Eved Ivri at the end when the 7th year begins you have to send him free. What is going on here? This week’s Parsha is not the day they left Mitzrayim, this week’s Parsha follows Mattan Torah. It is at least 50 days after the leaving of Mitzrayim. How could the Haftorah say on the day you left Mitzrayim I taught you this?
Some of the Meforshei Hanavi say (בְּיוֹם הוֹצִאִי) doesn’t mean on the day it means in that period of time. What do you mean the period of time? All Taryag Mitzvos were commanded in this period of time. The Baalei Mussar say the following. They say why does Mishpatim start with Eved Ivri as there are many more practical Mitzvos in the Parsha, why start with Avadim?
The answer is the Torah is teaching us that if you go through an experience and you see how terrible something is, you have to be extra careful in your own life to be Zahir in that Middah. If you suffered from a warped Middah, you have to be careful not to make mistakes with that very same Middah yourself. When Klal Yisrael left Mitzrayim HKB”H said you are walking out of being Avadim, be careful. Don’t mistreat your Avadim. Once you felt the mistreatment of others, you have to be supersensitive not to be the one who mistreats other people. That is what the Navi means.
The Navi says on the day I took you out of Mitzrayim, no it doesn’t say on the day that I took you out of Mitzrayim, it says on the day that I took you out (מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם, מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים). I took you out from being slaves, on that day I told you treat your Avadim right. I told you , it doesn’t mean that there was a Nevua through Moshe, but it means that once a person walks out of a certain experience he himself has to be extra careful to learn from that, if he is a victim of something not be a person who victimizes others.
Sometimes this is very challenging. But it is an important lesson for a person to know that your experiences have to teach you what to be extra careful about in the future. So that if you experienced mistreatment you should take it to heart, you should understand that the suffering you endured is real and not G-d forbid make someone else suffer from that very same thing.
And so, the lesson of Rabbeinu Yonah applies to anyone who has been taken advantage of. You have to learn when you are taken advantage of to understand never to take advantage of someone else.
3 – Topic – A Thought for Chodesh Adar
This week we Bentch Rosh Chodesh Adar and with that I would like to end today with an appropriate Dvar Torah for the month of Adar as it comes upon us. I would like to share with you the following very Geshmake thought.
It says in the Yerushalmi in Maseches Berachos in the 7th Perek where there is a Kler. At the table when you are Bentching who should lead the Bentching the Baal Habayis or a guest? The Yerushalmi Klers if it is better for the master of the house to lead the Bentching or should the guest should lead the Bentching. The Gemara resolves it by bringing an incident with Rav Zeira.
It says that Rav Zeira was once a guest in a home and he Bentched. So clearly they held that the guest Bentches and from there the Gemara learns out Maiseh Rav, from the Maiseh of a great person that the guest Bentches.
The question on this Gemara is that Rav Zeira was a Kohen so how could you bring a Raya from there. Maybe really the Baal Habayis leads the Bentching but if the guest is a Kohen and the Baal Habayis has a Mitzvas Asei to honor the Kohen and give him the Bentching and that is why the Bentching was given to Rav Zeira. What is the Raya from there? This is a difficulty with the Yerushalmi.
The Aderes – Rabbi Eliyahu Dovid Rabinowitz – Teomim said a very Geshmake Teretz. The Gemara says in Megillah 7b that (קם רבה שחטיה לרבי זירא) that Rav Zeira was killed by Rabbah and then brought back to life again. Says the Aderes, he is no longer a Kohen. He was born a Kohen but after he died and he is brought back to life, someone who dies and is brought back to life he is not a Kohen by Techias Hamaisim. That is what the Aderes says.
The Steipler quotes this and asks a Kasha. He doesn’t understand how the Aderes could say such a thing. The Gemara says at the beginning of Perek Cheilek where do we have a source to the idea of Techias Hamaisim? One of the sources it brings is from a Posuk which says that Teruma will be given to Aharon U’banav. That you will give the Teruma gift to Aharon U’banav. The Gemara says what do you mean – Aharon died in the Midbar and he never got Teruma? His sons got Teruma but he never got Teruma. The Gemara says that Mi’kan L’techias Hamaisim. There will be Techias Hamaisim and Aharon Hakohen will get up again and then he will have Terumah. That is what it says in the Gemara.
Says the Steipler the Aderes is wrong, the Aderes says by Techias Hamaisim a person is no longer a Kohen when he reawakens, but we see and that is one of the sources of Techias Hamaisim is Aharon Hakohen and you see that he is going to be a Kohen when he gets up. It sounds like a Teyuvta on something the Aderes says. Sounds like a great Kasha.
There is just as a Geshmak a Teretz which I have seen (but I don’t recall where). The Teretz is great. There are two types of Kohanim. Most Kohanim are Kohanim by virtue of their father being a Kohen. It is a virtue of birth. Aharon Hakohen and as a matter of fact Aharon Hakohen’s sons as well, and Pinchas where not born Kohanim. They became Kohamim because HKB”H gave them the gift of Kehunah. It was them personally, they personally received Kehunah. Therefore, the Aderes is right. Rav Zeira was a Kohen because his father was a Kohen. So that means that he is born to his father and he is a Kohen. If he dies and is so to speak born once again with Techias Hamaisim, then the Aderes says he is Os Kohen, he no longer has a Din of Kohen. You can’t ask from Aharon Hakohen or from Aharon and his sons because Aharon and his sons got Kehunah as a gift personally. So even by Techias Hamaisim he remains a Kohen. It is something personal to him. Since it is personal to him, just like he remains Aharon, the same thing he remains a Kohen. A very Geshmake Teretz to a Kasha that seemed to be an absolute Tiyuvta.
Plus this gives us an understanding that by Pinchas he got Bris Kehunas Olam. He got the eternal Bris of Kehunah. What does it mean eternal? All Kehunah is eternal? No! Had Pinchas been a Kohen by virtue of being born a Kohen it would only last until Techias Hamaisim but not after Techias Hamaisim. But since Pinchas is given it personally and not by virtue of being born a Kohen, he has Bris Kehunas Olam, he has an eternal Bris Kehunah.
This explains the Shittah of the Aderes. I don’t say that necessarily everyone agrees with him on this but be that as it may the words of the Aderes and the Kasha of the Steipler and Geshmake Teretz have that type of Geshmake feeling that gets us into a mood for the month of Adar. A Geshmak in our learning. We should be Zoche to have a Geshmak in our learning and then you will learn. But first learn even without Geshmak but then work towards a Geshmak in learning. IY”H let us hope as we enter a year with two Chodesh Adars it should Tak’e indeed be a year of Ribui Simcha of extraordinary Simcha in all of Klal Yisrael! A Gutten Shabbos to one and all!