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Posts Tagged ‘Parshas Mishpatim’

Our Creator’s Infinite Love

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

“When a man steals a cow or a sheep and he slaughters it or sells it, five cows shall he pay for the cow and four sheep in place of the sheep.” – Shemos 21:37

In Parshas Mishpatim, the Torah delineates various prohibitions and punishments. With regard to stealing, we see something unusual. If a man steals a cow, he must pay back five times the amount he stole; however, if he stole a sheep, he must pay back four times the amount. Rashi is troubled by the difference in punishments. He explains that the difference lies not in the crime but in the mental state of the thief.

When a man steals a cow, he walks it out of the barn. When a man steals a sheep, he has to place it on his shoulders to carry it away, and this degrades him. After all, to put a mere animal on one’s shoulders is a humiliation to the greatness of man. Since the thief is already suffering the embarrassment of carrying a sheep around, the Torah considers it as if he has already received part of his punishment, so his payment is lessened.

The Rosh HaYeshiva, Rabbi A.H. Leibowitz, zt”l, commented that this Rashi is difficult to understand as it is hard to imagine this man is preoccupied with his embarrassment. He is a common thief, engaged in the act of breaking and entering. He probably isn’t even aware that carrying a sheep is considered demeaning, and he certainly isn’t thinking about it as he makes his escape.

As an illustration, one of the tricks of a good pickpocket is to bump your shoulder as he reaches in to steal your wallet. Since the nervous system can only process one stimulus at a time, when he nudges your shoulder, your attention is diverted to that area and you don’ t even feel your wallet being lifted out of your pocket. So too this thief. If he is thinking about anything other than not getting caught, it would be about tonight’s dinner that he is happily carrying home with him. Why would the Torah consider part of his punishment already received when it is unlikely that he even feels that embarrassment?

The answer to this question can best be understood by focusing on our relationship to our Creator.

Hashem Loves You More Than You Love You

The Chovos HaLevovos explains that one of the most basic facts in my relationship with Hashem is that He loves me more than I love myself. Hashem is more concerned for my good than I am. Hashem looks out for my interests more than I do myself.

This concept is the foundation of bitachon. Without it, trusting in Hashem is foolish. How can I rely on Hashem if He doesn’t care about me? How can I trust in Hashem if I am irrelevant in to Him? The only way a person can develop a true reliance on Hashem is by understanding that Hashem loves every one of His creations to an extent that is beyond human comprehension. And because of Hashem’s infinite mercy and kindness, even if I do not deserve something, Hashem may give it to me anyway.

The Rosh Ha’Yeshiva, zt”l, explained that this seems to be the answer to this Rashi. It may well be that as this thief is making his escape, he is unaware of the embarrassment that he is suffering, nevertheless it makes an impact deep within him. He is a human as all other humans, and was created in the image of Hashem. As such, he has the same sensitivities and delicate nature of all humans. He was created for greatness, and there is a part of him that cries out in pain when a mere animal is placed over him. Granted, while he is engaged in this act, he might be oblivious to the pain. But the pain is there, and it leaves its imprint, even if he is unaware of it.

This is a powerful illustration of Hashem’s compassion – even for a man who has deadened his heart to pain. The heart still feels it, and Hashem considers that pain significant and counts it as partial punishment for the crime.

This Man Isn’t a Tzaddik

This point becomes even more salient because this man is no tzaddik. The Torah is describing a man who has veered off the Torah’s way. He is sneaking into his neighbor’s barn and committing a crime. Even so, Hashem has mercy on him and feels his pain, even more than he does himself. This stems from the love Hashem has for each of us. The extent that He cares for our good is even greater than the extent we care for ourselves.

While this concept has many applications, it has particular relevance when we come to that rude awakening of “I have messed up.” At various points in our lives, we will reach the clarity to understand that we are human, and by design we have flaws and imperfections. With that recognition should also come the desire to correct our course and do teshuvah. Being aware that Hashem has infinite love and patience can allow us to embark on that most difficult task given to the human: growth, change and ultimately returning to our Creator, who loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Parshas Mishpatim

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 7 5772

New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME

February 17, 2012 – 24 Shevat 5772

5:12 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

Sabbath Ends: 6:20 p.m. NYC E.S.T.

Weekly Reading: Mishpatim

Weekly Haftara: Ben Sheva Shanim (Ashkenazim: II Kings 12:1-17; Sephardim: II Kings 11:17-12:17)

Daf Yomi: Temurah 2

Mishna Yomit: Bezah 5:7 – Rosh Hashanah 1:1

Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 11:7-9

Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Edus chap. 11-13

Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 5:53 a.m.NYC E.S.T.

Latest Kerias Shema: 9:29 a.m. NYC E.S.T.

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim. Rosh Chodesh Adar is two days, this coming Thursday and Friday. The molad is Wednesday morning, 49 minutes, 1 chelek (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) after 8:00 a.m. (in Jerusalem). It is also Shabbos Parashas Shekalim.

Shabbos morning: Shacharis as usual. We remove two Torah scrolls from the ark and call seven aliyos. We read Parashas Mishpatim in the first scroll. We then call the Maftir and read Parashas KiTissa from the beginning of the parasha until Al Nafshoseichem in the second scroll. We then read the Haftara of Parashas Shekalim, Ben Sheva Shanim (II Kings 11:17-12:17 for Sephardim; II Kings 12:1-17 for Ashkenazim).

We bless the month of Adar. We do not say Av Harachamim, nor is there Hazkaras Neshamos, but we continue with Ashrei; we return the Torah scroll to the aron and the chazzan says half-Kaddish. Rosh Chodesh, Wednesday: Maariv, Atah we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo – at Maariv only – one does not repeat; see Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night. Following the Shemoneh Esreh, the chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel, followed by Aleinu and Kaddish Yasom.

Thursday morning: Shacharis with inclusion of Ya’aleh VeYavo in the Shemoneh Esreh. Following chazzan’s repetition we say half-Hallel, Kaddish Tiskabbel. We take out one Sefer Torah. We read in Parashas Pinchas (Bamidbar 28:1-15) and call four aliyos (Kohen, Levi, Yisrael, Yisrael); the Baal Keriah recites half-Kaddish. We return the Torah to the aron, Ashrei, U’va Letziyyon – we delete La’menatze’ach, the chazzan recites half-Kaddish; all then remove their tefillin. Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh, followed by chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu, Shir Shel Yom, Borchi Nafshi and their respective Kaddish recitals (for mourners). Nusach Sefarad say Shir Shel Yom and Borchi Nafshi after half-Hallel. Before Aleinu they add Ein K’Elokeinu with Kaddish DeRabbanan.

Mincha: In the Shemoneh Esreh we say Ya’aleh VeYavo, followed by chazzan’s repetition and Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Birkas Hamazon: In the Grace after Meals we add Ya’aleh VeYavo as well as mention of Rosh Chodesh in the Beracha Acharona (Me’ein Shalosh) at all times.

Thursday eve. and Friday, 2nd day Rosh Chodesh, the order of the day is the same as on the preceding day. Kiddush Levana at first opportunity (we usually wait until Motza’ei Shabbos).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. –Y.K.

Halachos Regarding Damaged Property – Replacement Or Reimbursement?

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

This week’s parshah, Parshas Mishpatim, discusses various halachos regarding monetary issues. One of the topics revolves around when one damages another person’s property. One is responsible to pay for the damage that either he or his possessions caused.

The Machaneh Ephraim (Hilchos Nizkei Mammon) discusses the following scenario – one breaks an item that is worth $10 at the time that it was broken. On the day that the individual is to pay, the item has devalued and is only worth $8. How much does he have to pay, $10 or $8? Similarly, can he replace the item with an exact replica of the broken item that is now worth less or does he have to reimburse the owner with the cash value of the item at the time it was broken?

The Gemara discusses the halacha of this case regarding when one steals an item. If the item is still intact, it can be returned even if the price has decreased. If the item is physically damaged, one cannot return it and cannot buy a new one at the lesser price; rather, he must pay the owner what it was worth at the time it was stolen. Here’s the question: Does the halacha of repaying for damages follow the halacha of stealing, or does it differ – allowing one to replace the damaged item at a lower price?

The Machaneh Ephraim says that this is in fact a machlokes Rishonim. The Rambam, Rashi, and Tosafos are all of the opinion that the halacha of paying for damages does not follow the halacha of repaying for stealing an item, and thus one may replace the item at a lower price or pay the current lower price. The Raavad and the Rush opine that the halacha of reimbursing one for damages that were incurred on one’s property follows the halacha of paying for a broken stolen item; thus one is obligated to pay the value that the item was worth at the time that it was broken.

We can simply explain that the machlokes Rishonim depends on the following question: When one damages an item is he obligated to replace the item, either with an actual item or with money to purchase an item at today’s price, or is he obligated to pay for the loss that the owner incurred at the time of the damage?

Based on this, the Machaneh Ephraim explains the following machlokes between the Rambam and the Raavad (Hilchos To’en V’niten 5:2) – the halacha is that mi’de’oraysa one can only swear regarding movable objects; one cannot swear on a matter concerning land. If one claims that his fellow dug two holes on his land and thereby cheapened the value of the land and his fellow only admits to digging one hole, he does not have to swear mi’de’oraysa. Generally, when one admits to part of a claim he is obligated to swear mi’de’oraysa. However, says the Rambam, since this oath would concern land he is exempt from swearing. The Raavad argues that this case is not considered swearing regarding land, but rather they are disputing how much money is owed – in which case he is obligated to swear mi’de’oraysa.

The Machaneh Ephraim explains that this machlokes is dependent on the question that we discussed above. The Rambam, as mentioned earlier, holds that when one damages an item he is obligated to replace it. Therefore, when one damages land he is obligated to replace the land. This being the reason that the Rambam considered the dispute to be concerning land, he was unable to swear mi’de’oraysa. The Raavad was of the opinion that one is not obligated to replace the item that he damaged, but rather that one is indebted to pay the owner the value that was lost at the time of the damage. It is for this reason that the Raavad said that the dispute here concerns money and not land – thereby allowing for an oath mi’de’oraysa.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik raised the following question regarding this scenario -  there only exists two of a certain type of stamp and they both belong to one individual. Since two of these stamps exist, they are each worth $50. If there would only be one of them in the world, it would be worth $100. If someone were to destroy one of the stamps, would he be obligated to pay the owner or would we say that since there was technically no loss of money – as the remaining stamp increased in value – he is not obligated to pay?

Initially, Reb Chaim said that it is dependent on the question that we mentioned earlier. If the obligation to pay, when one damages, is to reimburse the owner for his loss, then in this case where there was no loss one need not pay anything. However, if one is obligated to replace an item that he damaged, and if he is unable to replace it he must then pay for it, then in this case that finds him unable to replace the item he should be obligated to pay for it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/replacement-or-reimbursement/2012/02/15/

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