Parsha Mishpatim from Rabbi Gedalia Segal based on Rabbi Usher Freund

We don’t make a separation between mitzvahs

After Parsha Yisro, after the ten commandments, it says I am Hashem your Creator, Your Master.  Parshas Mishpatim talks about laws that are between man and man.

Rashi says that these are the laws. The first laws are from Sinai and also these laws. The mitzvahs in relation between man and his Creator and the mitzvahs between man and his friend are all from Hashem and from Sinai.

There are mitzvahs that are between man and His Creator.  We keep them. It is written in the Torah.  When we have mitzvahs between man and his friend, like monetary disputes or certain injuries that people have or losses that they have sometimes, sometimes people have arguments with others, and they might go to secular courts in each country.  It looks like they differentiate between the mitzvahs of the Torah that they are living by keeping them, that they say you should be like a Yid in your house but like a person outside your house.  But a Yid that lives properly lives only according to the Torah.

If someone goes to the Rav and asks if the chicken is kosher, that same way he should go to ask if the ox of his friend that fell into his pit, what should he do.  The Rav is going to give an answer according to Shulchan aruch . He may not have to pay.  If he goes to a secular court, it may say he has to pay and enforces it.  It is not that he was hurt, but he is the one that is inflicting a wound. It is not that he was stolen from but he is the stealer because according to the Torah he is not supposed to pay him but according to secular courts the person has to pay him, so he reverses the law from what it is according to the Torah and he goes by the secular court.

Rabbi Yisrael Salant says that everyone that learns the laws of an ox that wounded the calf, it helps bring the fear of heaven.  A person learns mussar.  In all the parts of the Torah, the wisdom of Hashem is hidden.  Just learning it brings a person closer to Hashem.  Everything from the Torah is given from Hashem to Israel at Sinai and you cannot differentiate and say I will listen between me and the Creator but between me and my friend on monetary disputes, I won’t listen. You cannot do that. You cannot make a separation between two categories of mitzvahs.

You cannot separate between mitzvahs between a person and Hashem and a person and his friend.  You can’t say I am going to ignore that piece of it. A person has to know that any disputes with a person he has to go to a Rabbinic court and not a secular court.

Also from Sinai

These are the laws to put in front of them. Just like the ten commandments were given, so too these laws. The Torah is from heaven and the belief is in the Creator of the world, and our responsibility is to keep the commandments He gave us. Everyone from the nation of Israel has to live according to Torah, his eating, drinking, business, talking, all has the yoke of heaven on him, all his behaviors.  The laws of the gentiles and the secular courts, they are not from the Shulchan Aruch.  It is not like you go to a Rabbinical court.  If we go to a secular court, it desecrates Hashem’s Name.  a person that goes to secular court, it shows he does not believe in Hashem and that he does not believe in the Torah.  A person who is weak in their faith, they think that sometimes the laws of the land, the secular courts, they will give the law according to the law of the Yidden.  But if the judge is not a Yid and does not learn the Shulchan Aruch to become a Rabbi it does not go according to the Torah and it is a desecration of Hashem’s Name. It does not make a difference if a judge will rule according to the Shulchan oruch.  If a goy is going to give a Jewish law, it is a sanctification of Hashem’s Name. but if a Yid does not give a right judgment according to the Torah, it is a desecration of Hashem’s Name because he is not acting as a Yid and he should not be judging.  All of the judgments from Sinai are given as the basis of the Jewish faith and someone who does not live with this cannot give a proper judgment.

Rabbi Kalonomous Kalman says just like the 10 commandments were given with trepidation and fear, that is the same fear and humility we have to learn with monetary judgments regarding oxen that are injured and different people that are caretakers of object, if they get paid or not, all these laws. 

That is why it says just like we learn Torah for monetary disputes, do it with faer and trepidation just like we got Torah mSinai. Don’t forget the giver of the Torah.  Learn the laws with fear and trepidation as if at Sinai.

Section of Laws is an indicator of Divine Providence

Reb Isaac Scharf, in a mussar lecture, in Slobodka Yeshiva, where it says your grass will grow in the fields and you will eat and be satiated, he says Hashem Who is the Creator is talking to a person and promising that if we worship Him with all our heart then He will bless our fields and there will be plenty of grass for grazing and we will eat and be satiated. These words are frightening for anyone who thinks about them. Hashem Who is so great gives this knowledge to bless people with fields that provide grass and animals that will be satiated.  We come to understand that the whole world and all its needs is full with divine providence of Hashem and there is not a corner in our lives in all the land and in all the waters and in the sky that divine providence is lacking.

Come let’s look at the parsha now, injuries a person does to his friend.

Hashem in the Torah given to Moshe is saying how much people are required to pay if an ox hurt a different person’s ox, or if one person hurts another, or someone steals someone else’s sheep and sells or slaughters it. Hashem says all of this and says it for thousands of years for billions of people, it is from the heavens and goes into detail and more detail of different disputes regarding animals eating in another’s fields, or animals injuring someone else’s and how to pay for it, full or partial, and now to watch your ox so it should not injure and what does the thief pay, double?  What type of payment does he have to pay when it comes to fields or property.  All these details are written in the Torah at Sinai.  This Torah given at Sinai is with all its details important for us to learn and to do all its mitzvahs and to realize that the divine providence of Hashem is on every aspect of our life in every place that we are in this world.

Laws from Sinai

In the laws of the gentiles that we have, sometimes you have to know when people are engaged in earning a living, he has to know what he is obligated in according to the law of the land. These laws change even on  a yearly basis. We make a difference between the holy and mundane, in our Torah, and this is something we take each law and we see the importance.  We learn it in depth because these are laws that are from the Creator. 

In this parsha we know the laws of an ox that are injured, we gave someone to watch our possession and it gets lost, or we learn the laws of someone who steals, or that we are not allowed to hurt an orphan or widow, or someone who is impoverished, not to take advantage when you make a judgment, or when you see a donkey of your enemy and he is crouching because of his heavy burden, you have to help him unload the heavy donkey.  You are allowed to hate this person because he is not acting accordingly but you are responsible to help him in this situation.  What type of law can you find in relation to the way a person feels emotionally to have mercy and to take part in the burden of an animal that has fallen?  These are all laws that are obligations for every Jew, not only when he sees the suffering of his fellow man but in any situation. 

They are given to Israel to be a nation to Hashem by taking the Torah and mitzvahs, to keep Shabbos, sit in succa, but it is also an obligation to see the suffering of your friend and to help him in the situation he is in. these are the laws from Hashem at Sinai who is compassionate and does good. Certain laws, when you see the secular laws and then the Torah, we see we will do and we will listen.  That is what the Jews said.

The laws are monetary laws, wounds and relationships between people and then at the end it talks about the giving of the Torah.  We said we will do and then we will hear.  First they accepted it, we will do.  Interpretations are many. How can we do before we will hear, how can we do before we hear?

Some explain that the keeping of the mitzvahs and learning Torah, a Jewish person has to keep the mitzvahs, to put on tefillin, to eat matza on Pesach.  A person has to do this before he understands the reason to do them. Only the ones that want to first investigate the reasons for all the mitzvahs and then afterwards keep them, they approach it in the reverse manner to we will do and we will hear.  We are going to do it whether or not we understand the reasons. After we listen then we will learn to understand the reason. 

For example, we are not allowed to write on Shabbos. Then we learn why.  The Melachos are from the mishkan and there was writing, they wrote on the walls and boards of the Mishkan, they wrote to know how each board is paired with another board.  Then we larn what is called writing, what resembles writing and all that we are not allowed to do on Shabbos. If we wait until we understand, many years pass by before he is doing the mitzvahs and it is possible for a person to pass away before even doing one mitzvah.

When it comes to the judges, these are the laws that you should put in front of them, the Shulchan aruch like a table ready to eat. Every judge has to know the law and all the reasons and investigate. When he makes the judgment he has to ask the witnesses and get all the information and when the judgment is one way or another, a judge has to learn at the beginning how to keep the commandments so that a wrong judgment that implicates the innocent or absolves the guilty.

That is why it says at the beginning of the parsha, and not the same at the end of the parsha where it talks about all the people, the regular nation, doing and then listening, but for the judges, they have to set their table first, understand the whole thing clearly.  The whole nation does not have to understand so clearly but the judges have to understand so they can make a propler judgment.

The relationship between the verses in the Torah

Someone who kidnaps and sells someone, that person has to die as well as his parents. What is the relationship between these two verses. Reb Saadia Gaon says a child that was kidnapped, most of the time from his parents and sold to others and raised in a different environment from his father and mother, it is possible he will come to a situation that he will curse his parents because he does not understand how much he is supposed to honor them and that he is not allowed to not respect them.  He won’t understand.  It comes out that the one who kidnapped cursed his parents and this is why these two verses are one after another.

It arouses in our hearts the tragedy of the education of thousands of Jewish children who grow up without the proper knowledge that are taken away from the bosom of their Father in heaven.  They are educated in secular system that unfortunately does not know Torah. They also could come to curse their father and nmother because it is really their father and mother, because their lack of knowledge, they did not get a proper education.  The fifth commandment is honor your mother and father, and it is like all the commandments. There is no exaggeration, everyone who knows the nature of these children, they know how low they fell in the mitzvah of kivud av v’em and sometimes they make the lives of their parents so bitter. Only those children that are raise din the mesora of their father’s Torah know what a father and mother are, to be careful in their honor, to value them and not cause them pain or anguish.  Whoever has the education of the Torah it is a simple matter to him, there is nothing else to think about. They respect their parents and the children that were kidnapped from Torah education and got a secular education they end up cursing their parents unfortunately.

If the Master is with him

Seven times a righteous person will fall and pick himself up again.  If seven times a righteous person falls in sin, he won’t get discouraged, he will stand up again and do teshuva and try to repair it. He won’t give up hope. He will find a way to fix what he did wrong. He will raise his eyes to the Creator and say I sinned such and such but don’t throw me away from You. Take me out of this place of sin and its punishment. He does not leave Hashem and Hashem doesn’t’ leave him either and He helps him return and fix what he did wrong.

It is very bitter someone who leaves Hashem and doesn’t pick himself up to do teshuva.  The Chaim Rev says a person who asks from his friend something, he borrowed something and it broke or its owners died, he has to pay. The neshama is the person’s friend.  If a person asks from his neshama to engage in things that are mundane matters and it is broken, meaning he got caught in sin or it died (he fell into a transgression that caused his death), if in such a situation that he leaves Hashem that is really His Owner and the Creator of the whole world, and he is going to give up, then he is going to end up paying in this world and in the next world for his friend, because he gave up on teshuva. It is very painful for him. His punishment is double in two worlds. But if he does not leave Hashem, his Owner is with him, he has hope to do teshuva, then he will know Hashem is always with him even in the lowest depths and he is going to call out to Hashem from the lowest depths.  I call to You from the lowest depths that You will help pick me up and help me do teshuva, then he will save himself from punishment and at the end his sin will be forgiven.

WE are Hashem’s children and He is our father and when the son knows he fell low and he screams to his father to help lift him from the depths that he fell, Hashem will. If a person goes further way from going in sin, anyone who is pushed away won’t remain so.  There is always one string that remains connected to His Creator and is never lost and the hope to return and to fix what the person stumbled is something that will help the person return to Hashem in complete repentance.

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