Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim| 5766
Mishpatim | | 1/1/2005
Our parasha isintroduced with the pasuk: “And these are the statutes that you shall place before them” (Shemot 21:1). Rashi brings the following two statements of the Rabbis. We learn from “and these” that just as the contents of last parasha were from Sinai, so too these were from Sinai. We learn from “…that you shall place before them” that Hashem instructed Moshe that it was insufficient to teach Bnei Yisrael the laws until they knew them well, as Moshe might have thought, but that he should also teach the reasons and explanations.
Case: A couple was married civilly in Russia in a ceremony in which the groom presented the bride with a ring in front of several Jews. Years later, the husband went to fight in WW II and did not return. The Russian army informed the wife that he had disappeared during a battle and was never heard from again, an account corroborated by a Jewish witness. Decades later, the woman wants to remarry.
The gemara in Sanhedrin (52a) says: “It was that Moshe and Aharon were walking, and Nadav and Avihu [Aharon’s sons] were walking behind them. Nadav said to Avihu: ‘When will these two old men die, and you and I will lead the generation?’” Rashi comments that we see that they died because they sought power. The gemara continues that their punishment was that their souls were burned, and their bodies remained intact.
Question: Reuven and Shimon traveled together. Reuven allowed Shimon to put valuables, which, Shimon is sure included a 50-shekel bill, in one of the compartments of his backpack. Before getting on a bus, Shimon ripped the zipper while opening up the compartment but left his items inside. (Reuven was able to fix the zipper on the bus). When they reached their destination, Shimon found all of his items except the 50-shekel bill. Suggested versions of what might have happened to the money include that Shimon did not put in the money or took it out, it fell out, or it was stolen. The two disagree only on interpretation of events, and do not accuse each other of lying. Is Reuven responsible to pay for losing the money?
This edition of
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).