Torah Teaser – Parshat Mishpatim Questions & Answers – February 24 2117-5777

Justice the Sinai Way Rashi says the reason why the Torah write “V’Eileh HaMishpatim”, and these are the laws (Mishpatim 21:1) is to teach us that our system of laws is based on Sinai and these laws are a continuation of the Aseres HaDibros. Rav Elyashiv (Dvrei Aggadah) asks, “What else would we think? Of course, the entire Torah came from Sinai?” He answers that every society has laws, for without the rule of law there would be chaos. But those laws are not all the same. For example, Sidom also had laws, as we see in the Medrash, Eliezer was taken to the Sidom court. Even ants have laws. The pasuk says that one ant dare not steal from another, but from humans they are happy to steal. The Torah laws come from Sinai and they look different than any other laws with vastly different results. “Midvar Sheker Tirchok”, not to lie says the Gemara means that if two people come before the judges and one is dressed in expensive clothing and the other one in cheaper clothing we make them both wear the same type of clothing so as not to subconciously favor one over the other. That is Torah truth. Which laws are more effective? In contemporary law, someone can be guilty of stealing with only one witness or even no witnesses. His punishment is to sit in a horrible jail with terrible people. Despite these wretched consequences, the jails are full of thieves and it doesn’t seem to deter many would- be-thieves. The Torah laws are a bit different. A thief needs to be seen by two people and none of them relatives. His punishment is simply to pay double. If he can’t afford he is sold as a slave, but what kind of slave? One who the owner must treat the same way he treats himself and cannot overwork him. He must also support the thief’s family. Under these conditions, it actually sounds pretty okay to get caught. Yet, we see that Bais Din rarely ended up punishing people and hardly ever gave the death penalty. Why is this so? Because our laws come from Sinai. What does that mean? The luchos came in two tablets. The first side said, “Anochi Hashem…” The second side said, “Don’t steal, murde..” etc. When the rules come from Sinai, from the Anochi, from emunah, those laws are kept better than the threat of severe punishment.
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When A Position Is Acquired by Yerusha “Elokim Lo Sikalel V’Nasi B’Amcha Lo Sa’or; Do not revile a judge, and a prince in your nation do not curse.” (Mishpatim 22:27) Chazal explain that the reason it says, “Amcha–In your nation,” is because the issur applies when the Nasi does Maaseh Amcha, he behaves according to the Torah. If he does not, then he is not part of the issur of cursing a Nasi. If so why does it only say, “Amcha,” by the Nasi and not by the Dayan in the beginning of the pasuk? The Shulchan Gavoa brings from the Brisker Rov that a Dayan is appointed based on merit. There is no doubt that he is good Jew and does Maaseh Amcha. The Nesius on the other hand comes through Yerusha, and is not entirely earned by the righteousness of the Nasi. Therefore, it is very possible that he is not a good person, and in that case the Torah excludes him from the issur.
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Milk & Meat Are Cause for A Bris “Lo Sivashel Gdi BaChaleiv Imo; Do not cook a goat with its mother’s milk.” (Mishpatim 23:19) This pasuk is written three times in the Torah. The Mechilta says that this is K’neged the three times Hashem entered into a Bris with Bnei Yisrael: once at Har Sinai, once in Arvos Moav, and once at Har Grizim. Why is the issur of Basar V’Chalav tied to our Bris with Hashem? Rav Chaim Kanievsky answers that the Pesikta Rabasi says that the Malachim asked Hashem to give them the Torah. Hashem said to them that in the Torah it is written do eat meat and milk together, yet at Avrohom’s house when the three Malachim came to visit him, they ate milk and meat. The Malachim could not answer this charge so Hashem took the opportunity to tell Moshe to write the Torah for Bnei Yisrael, and He entered into a Bris with us. It was with the issur of basar b’chalav that Hashem gave us the Torah and entered into a Bris. Therefore, the issur is written three times kneged the three brissim.
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Majority Rules? The pasuk in Mishpatim tells us, “Acharei Rabim L’Hatos; To follow the majority.” The famous question asked is, “That since most of the world does not follow Hashem and abide by the laws of the Torah, why aren’t we obligated to follow the majority?” The Chasam Sofer’s explanation of this pasuk answers this question. “Lo Sihiyeh Acharei Rabim L’Ra’os;” There are things that are absolutely, positively bad. Do not follow the majority in their wickedness and folly.” When do you follow the majority? “L’Hatos,” when there is doubt in which way to turn. Then go with the Rabim. If you understand this, then, “Lo Saaneh Al Riv,” says the pasuk. “You will not be caught up in debate about avodah zara and other bad ways of the world because the guidelines are clear to you.” Reb Elchonon Wasserman answered that it says a few pasukim later (23:8) that bribery blinds the wise. The majority of the world is bribed by their desires, and even if they are wise, they have become blind and cannot be followed.

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