Parshas Mishpatim

On the first possuk of our parsha, “And these are the laws that you should put before them…” the Medrash comments, “Dovid (HaMelech) said “The fear of the Hashem is pure, existing forever; the judgments of the Hashem are true, altogether just.”. Why is this? Because if he has this (yiras shomayim), he has everything. There are people who learn Medrash, Halochos, Agados. However, if they don’t have fear (of Hashem) they have nothing.”

Zera Shimshon asks four questions.

1) Why does the possuk write “And these are the laws that you should PLACE BEFORE them” and not simply “And these are the laws that you should TEACH them” or “JUDGE them”?

2) What is the difficulty of the possuk that the Medrash comes to answer?

3) Rashi asks, “Why does the parsha begin with a “vav“- which means “And these are the laws…” and not simply, “These are the laws…”?

Rashi answers that the “vav” is “vav hachibor” – a “vav” that connects the present possuk with a previous one. In our case, Rashi explains, it connects Parshas Mishpatim with the previous parsha of the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai. The connection comes to teach us that just like the Ten Commandments were given on Har Sinai so to the mishpatim, our civil laws, were also given on Har Sinai.

Zera Shimshon asks, though, that this answer isn’t complete! Every halacha that is written in the Torah was given on Har Sinai! Why would I think that this parsha is an exception?

4) What is the connection between the possuk the Medrash brings and our parsha? Where is fear of Hashem even slightly alluded to in the parsha?

To answer all of these questions Zera Shimshon presents two concepts.

1) There is a Mitzvo for Bais Din to arbitrate a compromise and not pasken according to the strict letter of the law.

The Gemorra Sanhedrin (6b) says there that there is a mitzvo for Bais Din to make a compromise between the two parties and not to pasken according to the strict letter of the law.The source that the Gemorra brings for this opinion is the possuk, “and David administered justice and charity for all his people”. The Gemorro asks, how is it possible for “justice” to be also “charity”? The Gemorra answer is that this is done when there is compromise.

2) Yiras Shamayim is at the root of compromise and one needs ax yiras ax Shamayim to arbitrate a fear compromise.

Maharsha explains that one who has Yiras Shamayim makes comprimises between the two parties. When there is “din” and the dayan isn’t as cautious in his ruling as he could be, he is held responsible for taking money from the innocent party.

However when there is a compromise and both parties agree to the p’sak even if the dayan does make a mistake there is mechila and therefore no punishment.

Therefore, one who has fear of punishment from Hashem looks to make compromises.

Not only is yiras shamayim at the root of compromise, adds Zera Shimshon, but when the compromise is made it has to be as close to the din as possible.

The dayan can’t mislead one the parties to agree to something that really isn’t fair for him. He needs yiras shamayim to keep as close to the din as possible while, at the same time, making each party give up a little of their claim.

With these concepts in mind we can now answer and understand all 5 questions.

Since there is mitzvo to compromise we can assume that when the Torah speaks about judgements- mishpat– it is referring to the optimal type which is a compromise.

It is for this reason that the Torah can’t write “And these are the laws that you l teach them or judge them because every case is different, dependent on what the two parties agree. (Answer to first question.)

Because our parsha speaks of compromise we might think that this parsha was not given on Har Sinai but rather every dayan can pasken according to what he thinks both parties will agree to. (The answer to second question)

The Medrash was bothered by Rashi’s question, “What is the meaning of the “vav” in the word “veilla hamishpatim” (Answer to third question.)

The Medrash agrees with Rashi that the “vav” connects our parsha with the parsha of the giving of the Torah.

However, a new question now arises; how is compromise (the subject of our parsha) connected to the exact Torah that we received at Sinai?

The Medrash found the answer to this question in the possuk “The fear of the Hashem is pure, existing forever; the judgments of the Hashem are true, altogether just.” The fear of Hashem, which leads to compromise, is pure…. brings to the judgements of Hashem are true.

Even though their was compromise since it was done with yiras shamayim and didn’t deviate completely from the din then it considered as “the judgments of the Hashem are true, altogether just.

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One thought on “Parshas Mishpatim

  1. I admire your having had this brilliant idea – and then your carrying it out in practice.
    Kol HaKavod

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