Talmud Tips

For the week ending 26 March 2016 / 16 Adar II 5776

Kiddushin 16 - 22

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“The ear of a person that heard My voice at Mount Sinai declare that ‘the Jewish People are My servants’ (Vayikra 25:55) — and not the servants of servants — and went and sold himself as a slave to another — deserves to be pierced.”

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai explained that we can learn this “gem of a teaching” (“k’min chomer” — see Rashi) when we learn the verse “But if the Hebrew indentured servant says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go free…’ his master shall bore his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.” (Ex. 21:5-6)

In addition to this explanation for piercing his ear, Tosefot offers cites a Midrash that hints to the reason for using an awl — called “martzea” in the verse. The gematria of the word martzea is 400. Since the Jewish People were slaves in Egypt for 400 years and were redeemed by G-d, this Jewish person who went and “acquired” a master for himself deserves to be pierced with a “martzea of 400”.

  • Kiddushin 22b

“The door and doorpost that were witnesses in Egypt when I passed over the lintel and doorposts and I said, ‘the Jewish People are My servants’ (Vayikra 25:55) — and not the servants of servants — and I took them out from slavery to freedom, and this person who went and ‘acquired’ a master for himself deserves to be pierced in their presence.”

Rabbi Shimon the son of Rebbi taught this additional “gem” to give deeper insight into why “delet” and “mezuzot” are mentioned in the verse that deals with a Hebrew indentured servant remaining with his master: “His master shall bring him to the judges, and he shall also bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.” (Ex. 21:6)

  • Kiddushin 22b

© 1995-2017 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Talmud Tips

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.