Parsha Q&A - Parshas Mishpatim

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Parsha Q&A

Parshas Mishpatim

For the week ending 27 Shevat 5759 / 12 & 13 February 1999

Contents:
  • Parsha Questions
  • Sherlox Holmes
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • Solution to Sherlox Holmes
  • Back issues of Parsha Q&A
  • Subscription Information
  • Ohr Somayach Home Page

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    Parsha Questions

    Answers | Contents

    1. In what context is a mezuza mentioned in this week's Parsha? (tricky question)
    2. What special mitzvah does the Torah give to the master of a Hebrew maidservant?
    3. What is the penalty for wounding one's father or mother?
    4. 'A' intentionally hits 'B'. As a result, B is close to death. Besides any monetary payments, what happens to A?
    5. What is the penalty for someone who tries to murder a particular person, but accidentally kills another person instead? Give two opinions.
    6. A slave goes free if his master knocks out one of the slave's teeth. What teeth do not qualify for this rule and why?
    7. An ox gores another ox. What is the maximum the owner of the damaging ox must pay, provided his animal had gored no more than twice previously?
    8. From where in this week's Parsha can the importance of work be demonstrated?
    9. What is meant by the words "If the sun shone on him"?
    10. A person is given an object for safe-keeping. Later, he swears it was stolen. Witnesses come and say that in fact he is the one who stole it. How much must he pay?
    11. A person borrows his employee's car. The car is struck by lightning. How much must he pay?
    12. Why is lending money at interest called "biting"?
    13. Non-kosher meat "treifa" is preferentially fed to dogs. Why?
    14. Which verse forbids listening to slander?
    15. What constitutes a majority-ruling in a capital case?
    16. How is Shavuos referred to in this week's Parsha?
    17. How many prohibitions are transgressed when cooking meat and milk together?
    18. What was written in the Sefer HaBris which Moshe wrote prior to the giving of the Torah?
    19. What was the livnas hasapir a reminder of?
    20. Who was Efras? Who was her husband? Who was her son?


     
    Solution 
    Contents

    Sherlox Holmes and the Stolen Flocks

    "Binghamton claims he's barely acquainted with his co-worker, Hanes; yet, during questioning, he referred to him by his first name, Jonas, more than once," said world famous detextive Sherlox Holmes. "The repetition of the name raised difficulties in my mind."

    "Speaking of difficulties," said Watstein, "I'm having difficulty understanding the following text: 'If a person steals an ox or a sheep, and he slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen (chamisha bakar) for the ox, or four sheep (arbah tzon) for the sheep.' (Exodus 21:37) Rashi explains why the sheep-thief incurs a lesser payment: Because he degraded himself when he flung the sheep over his shoulder and carried it away, this degradation is considered part of his penalty. Or, because the ox theft caused the owner to lose the work of his plow animal."

    "Ah! Only a Divine system could be at once so just and so sensitive to human needs!" said Sherlox.

    "True, but why does Rashi make this comment?"

    "Well, isn't it curious that a thief pays five times the ox but only four times the sheep?" asked Sherlox.

    "Many things are curious; Rashi doesn't explain them all. Why is quadruple payment only for a sheep and not for, say, chickens? Why only for selling or slaughtering? And why only for slaughtering and not for killing some other way? These are all very curious, yet Rashi addresses none of them!"

    "The repetition of a name arouses suspicion," said Sherlox.


    I Did Not Know That!

    Parshas Mishpatim, dealing largely with monetary laws, precedes Parshas Terumah which details the donations needed to build the Sanctuary. This teaches that even when donating to charity (terumah), a person must be sure that the money honestly belongs to him (mishpatim).

    (Beis Halevi)


    Recommended Reading List

    Ramban
    21:1-2
    Parallel with Ten Commandments
    21:6
    (first part) Divine Role in Human Justice
    21:15
    The Severity of Cursing One's Parents
    21:29-30
    Death Penalty and Ransom
    22:6
    (first part) Two kinds of Shomrim
    22:20-22
    Prosecutor of the Helpless
    22:30
    Holiness of Kashrus
    23:25
    Blessings and Destruction
    24:1
    Matan Torah Chronology
    Sefer Hachinuch
    42
    Human Kindness
    43
    Divine Kindness
    47
    Capital Punishment
    50
    Penalty for Anger
    52
    Despising Destruction
    62
    The Danger of Sorcery
    66
    Why Hashem Creates the Poor
    70
    Blasphemy
    71
    Respect for Authority
    73
    Kashrus
    78
    Antidote to Anarchy
    84
    Shemita
    93
    Relations with Heathens


    Answers to this Week's Questions

    All references are to the verses and Rashi's commentary, unless otherwise stated

    1. In what context is a mezuza mentioned in this week's Parsha? (tricky question)
      21:6 - If a Hebrew slave desires to remain enslaved his owner brings him "to the door post mezuza" to pierce his ear.

    2. What special mitzvah does the Torah give to the master of a Hebrew maidservant?
      21:8,9 - To marry her.

    3. What is the penalty for wounding one's father or mother?
      21:15 - Death by strangulation.

    4. 'A' intentionally hits 'B'. As a result, B is close to death. Besides any monetary payments, what happens to A?
      21:19 - He is put in jail until 'B' recovers or dies.

    5. What is the penalty for someone who tries to murder a particular person, but accidentally kills another person instead? Give two opinions.
      21:23 - A) The murderer deserves the death penalty. B) The murderer is exempt from death but must compensate the heirs of his victim.

    6. A slave goes free if his master knocks out one of the slave's teeth. What teeth do not qualify for this rule and why?
      21:26 - Baby teeth, which grow back.

    7. An ox gores another ox. What is the maximum the owner of the damaging ox must pay, provided his animal had gored no more than twice previously?
      21:35 - The full value of his own animal.

    8. From where in this week's Parsha can the importance of work be demonstrated?
      21:37 - From the "five-times" penalty for stealing an ox and slaughtering it. This fine is seen as punishment for preventing the owner from plowing with his ox.

    9. What is meant by the words "If the sun shone on him"?
      22:2 - If it's as clear as the sun that the thief has no intent to kill.

    10. A person is given an object for safe-keeping. Later, he swears it was stolen. Witnesses come and say that in fact he is the one who stole it. How much must he pay?
      22:8 - Double value of the object.

    11. A person borrows his employee's car. The car is struck by lightning. How much must he pay?
      22:14 - Nothing.

    12. Why is lending money at interest called "biting"?
      22:24 - Interest is like a snake bite. Just as the poison is not noticed at first but soon overwhelms the person, so too interest is barely noticeable until it accumulates to an overwhelming sum.

    13. Non-kosher meat "treifa" is preferentially fed to dogs. Why?
      22:30 - As "reward" for their silence during the plague of the first born.

    14. Which verse forbids listening to slander?
      23:1 - Targum Onkelos translates "Don't bear a false report" as "Don't receive a false report."

    15. What constitutes a majority-ruling in a capital case?
      23:2 - A simple majority is needed for an acquittal. A majority of two is needed for a ruling of guilty.

    16. How is Shavuos referred to in this week's Parsha?
      23:16 - Chag HaKatzir - Festival of Reaping.

    17. How many prohibitions are transgressed when cooking meat and milk together?
      23:19 - One.

    18. What was written in the Sefer HaBris which Moshe wrote prior to the giving of the Torah?
      24:4,7 - The Torah, starting from Bereshis until the giving of the Torah, and the mitzvos given at Mara.

    19. What was the livnas hasapir a reminder of?
      24:10 - That the Jews in Egypt were forced to toil by making bricks.

    20. Who was Efras? Who was her husband? Who was her son?
      24:14 - Miriam, wife of Calev, mother of Chur



    Mystery
    Contents

    Solution to Sherlox Holmes

    "Why does the verse say that the thief pays 'five oxen' (chamisha bakar) or 'four sheep' (arbah tzon)?" asked Sherlox.

    "Well, if he paid five teacups and four pin-cushions, it wouldn't do, would it?"

    "No, it wouldn't," said Sherlox. "That is exactly my point: Don't the words bakar and tzon (oxen and sheep) seem redundant?"

    "Ah yes, I see," said Watstein. "It could simply have said that he pays 'five for the ox' and 'four for the sheep.' It's obvious that he pays oxen for oxen and sheep for sheep."

    "Yes," said Sherlox, "just as we see regarding double payment: There, the verse says 'he pays two.' (Exodus 22:1) It doesn't need to say two of what."

    "Therefore," said Watstein, "Rashi explains that the seemingly extra words bakar and tzon hint at the reason for the differing payments. The differing payments are due to the differing natures of the bakar and the tzon, either regarding the way they are stolen, or their use as plow animals."

    "No need to feel sheepish about that explanation," said Sherlox.

    (Sherlox" is by Reuven Subar,inspired by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek's "What's Bothering Rashi")

    Written and Compiled by Rabbi Eliyahu Kane & Rabbi Reuven Subar
    General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
    Production Design: Eli Ballon
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