פרשת משפטים Our Parsha includes, among its many Halachos, the

advertisement
‫פרשת משפטים‬
Our Parsha includes, among its many Halachos, the din of one who murders
his ‘eved k’na’ani. Even though this slave does not have the k’dusha of ‘Am
Yisroel, the Torah decrees, “nakom yinakeim," the owner is put to death as a
result of his deed.
Thus, the punishment meted out for killing the ’eved kna’ani is the same as
for one who intentionally kills any Jew. There is one difference, however.
The Torah introduces a time-factor in determining whether or not the adon
receives the death penalty: “ach im yom o yomayim ya’amod, lo yukam ki
chaspo hu.” If the ‘eved k’na’ani lives “yom o yomayim," the owner is not
killed. Rashi brings the M’chilta to explain this phrase which is questionable
since if I know of the exemption if the slaves lives one day, it is not necessary
to tell me that the owner is not liable when the slave lived for two days!
Mechilta explains that the “day” referred to here is a complete day of 24
hours, not just daylight as may have been inferred were the Torah to have
written the word “yom” alone. And, of course, the Torah could not have
written “yomayim” only, since that would be misconstrued as two days. Thus
the “yom” is like “yomayim” since it encompasses the fullness of one day until
the beginning of the next. The phrase Chazal use to indicate a full 24 hour
day is Me’eis La’eis, an expression that finds itself beneficial in many spheres
of the Halacha.
The Rambam in Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Rotzeach U’sh’miras Nefesh,
Chapter 2, Halacha 14 says a stunning chidush: “It appears to me that one
who hits his ‘eved’
[k’na’ni] with a knife, a sword, a stone, a fist, or
something similar to them, and they [the doctors] evaluate that he will die,
and he dies, he(the ‘eved’) is not part of the law of ‘yom o yomayim’ but
even if he dies after a year, he(the killer) is killed because of him. Thus it is
said [he hits him] with a ‘shevet’ (stick)...”
Although this halacha is not in the M’chilta nor in the G’mara, Rambam
concludes it is so from the unusual word “bashevet”. For, if I compare how
the Torah talks about murder in other contexts, such as the Torah writes in
Parshas Mas’ei (35/16-18), the word “shevet” is not used. Explains the
Rambam, the Torah used the phrase in our circumstance to tell us that it is
a special case and an exemption to the death penalty which is mandated in all
other cases.
The specific reasoning of Rambam and the reason for
differentiating between the different tools of destruction invite the comments
of many m’farshim.
Or Hachayim Hakadosh offers an interpretation that tells us how hashkafa
and halacha are indelibly intertwined. We know the phrase “shevet” from
other contexts.
This term implies corrective instruction, “shevet
mussar”(Mishlei 22/15) as we see many times in Tanach. “Chosech shivto,
sonei v’no”, Sefer Mishlei(13/14). Thus, the Torah says if the beating was
done as an act of instruction, as Mussar, it is less severe than when
undertaken as violence alone. If even this “instructive” beating was so severe
that the ‘eved died immediately, then the owner receives the death penalty as
any other murderer. If it was not as severe, the ‘eved did not die within this
“Full Day” we relate to the owner as not having intended to kill and he is thus
exempt from the death penalty.
-2Does this Parsha have any meaning to us when slavery does not exist, when
there is no longer the institution of ‘eved k’na’ani? Perhaps we can see in it a
reflection of our relationship to Ribbono Shel ‘Olam and a derech through
which we can understand our place in the world. We are the ‘eved and He is
the Master. We have been struck. We need to evaluate the blow and to
understand its meaning. Was it meant to kill or was it intended to be
instructive? Was it the kli barzel of the murderer or the shevet mussar of the
teacher?
Our Parsha teaches us the answer. We are bid to view the punishment and
see whether it was immediately destructive or it allowed life to continue. If
the devastation took effect immediately, within the me’eis la’eis than we know
it was intended to kill. If we were able to arise again, to continue to live,
even with the impairments caused by the blows, then we know that what
befell us was instructive, not destructive.
We are always aware of the Golus that is our lot for 2000 years. We are
cognizant of Churban Beis HaMikdash so we recite on our happiest of days,
“u’mip’nei chatoseinu galinu meiartzeinu”. In the very midst of rejoicing, our
simcha is tempered per force by the realization that it is incomplete. At the
same time we need to understand that it was not merely a respite given to us
by the fact that our lives continue onward, rather the enduring existence that
we have is testimony as to why the punishments befell us. Not for the
purpose of obliteration have we been pummeled, but rather to give us
guidance with a most firm Hand. When we find ourselves despondent we can
remember our Parsha and the message of the ‘eved and be able to perceive,
in the midst of sorrow and tragedy, the subtle hint of Redemption that awaits
us.
If that is the attitude we undertake then we can look to HaKodosh Boruch Hu
and ask Him, as our Master, to fulfill the words of the Rambam in Mishnah
Torah at the very end of Hilchos ‘Avodim(9/8):
It is permissible to enslave the ‘eved k’na’ani with back-breaking labor. And,
even though the law is so, the middas chassidus and way of wisdom is that a
person should be merciful, pursue justice and not make the yoke of his
servant heavy upon him...For it says: ‘k’einei ‘avadim el yad adoneihem k’einei
shifcha el yad g’virtah(Thillim 123/2) ...The descendants of Avraham Avinu,
Israel upon whom Hakadosh Baruch Hu showered with the goodness of the
Torah and commanded them with Chukim and Mishpatim Tzaddikim, they are
merciful upon all. And all that are merciful, mercy is bestowed upon them...
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Pollock
Download
Random flashcards
Radiobiology

39 Cards

Pastoralists

20 Cards

Radioactivity

30 Cards

Create flashcards