Parsha Q&A - Parshat Mishpatim

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Parsha Q&A

Parshat Mishpatim

For the week ending 29 Shevat 5760; 4 & 5 February 2000

Contents:
  • Parsha Questions
  • Whats Bothering Rashi
  • I Did Not Know That!
  • Recommended Reading List
  • Answers to Parsha Questions
  • 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?
    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 Shavuot 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 Habrit which Moshe wrote prior to the giving of the Torah?
    19. What was the livnat hasapir a reminder of?
    20. Who was Efrat? Who was her husband? Who was her son?


    What's Bothering Rashi


    Contents
    "You shall not abuse a stranger and you shall not oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:20)

    On the words "for you were strangers" Rashi comments: "If you vex him he can also vex you by saying 'you too are descended from geirim (strangers)….' The term 'ger' means a person who has not been born in that land (where he presently resides) but has come from another country to dwell there."

    In his comment, Rashi defines the word "ger." Why does Rashi need to define this simple and familiar word, a word which has already occurred several times in the text (e.g., Exodus 20:10). Rashi doesn't define it there. Why here?

    Rashi wouldn't define a familiar word unless there was a deeper problem forcing him to do so. What Is Bothering Rashi?

    Answer:

    There are two types of "geirim:" The "stranger-sojourner" who lives in the Land of Israel and observes the Noachide laws, but isn't Jewish, and the "ger tzedek," who is a convert to Judaism. Which one is referred to in the above verse?

    According to the Talmud (Bava Metzia 59b), the phrase "You shall not abuse a ger" refers to a convert. Now re-read the verse: What does it mean that "you were strangers in the land of Egypt?" Certainly our forefathers weren't converts in Egypt! Rather, they were foreigners.

    We now begin to understand Rashi's logic. He never before defined the word "ger" because its meaning had always been clear. But in our verse there is likelihood of confusion, as in our verse the word is used in two different ways. Thus Rashi defines the word only at this point to tell us that the basic meaning of "ger" is one who comes from another country. The Israelites were certainly not converts, and the taunted one is a convert. Therefore Rashi had to make it clear at this point, to avoid any confusion, what kind of "geirim" the Israelites were in Egypt.

    An exquisite example of a deceptively simple comment which makes us aware of an overlooked difficulty in the verse.

    A note to our readers:

    The "Institute for the Study of Rashi" which produces these works is preparing for publication the Vayikra volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" It will add another dimension to the study of Rashi - this time Rashi's creative use of the midrash. We are looking for sponsors of this volume to enable us to publish it. Contributions can be made in Memory of or in Honor of close ones. This volume will IY"H be ready for this year's reading of sefer Vayikra. The previous volumes of "What's Bothering Rashi?" have been adopted for use in many schools and entered into many Jewish homes. Your sponsorship will make it possible to continue and enlarge this project. Those interested can write msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il Contributions are tax exempt.


    I Did Not Know That!

    Parshat Mishpatim, dealing largely with monetary laws, precedes Parshat 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).

    (Beit 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 Kashrut
    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
    Kashrut
    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?
      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. A person borrows his employee's car. The car is struck by lightning. How much must he pay?
      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 Shavuot 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 Habrit which Moshe wrote prior to the giving of the Torah?
      24:4,7 - The Torah, starting from Bereishet until the giving of the Torah, and the mitzvot given at Mara.

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

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

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


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