Illuminations #21, Shevat 5775, Parshat Mishpatim

KollelNerHamizrach__illumination logo

Illuminations #21, Shevat 5775, Parshat Mishpatim

Torah Gems

If one person sees another committing an immoral act, he is not allowed to testify against him because the Bet Din does not accept the testimony of one witness. Yet, our sages tell us (Pesachim 113) that the witness is permitted to rebuke the sinner for his lowly act until he repents.
But the Talmud (based on Shemot 23:5) tells us that if you are in a situation that you see two people, one is your close friend unloading his overburdened donkey and the other is the same person you rebuked trying to load his donkey, you should assist the person you rebuked!
From here the Alter of Slobodka learned a tremendous lesson from our Parasha. The reason you should help that person is so that you will remove negative feelings from  your heart.
On one hand, the Torah tells us we should rebuke the person who acted immorally. On the other hand, the Torah tells us to offer him assistance and soften our feelings toward him. Moreover, we are directed to help him at the expense of our friend who has not sinned and is struggling to unload his donkey.
The Torah is concerned that the negative feelings that we are allowed to feel toward the sinner will spiral from an intellectual level to personal hatred. The entire purpose of the Torah is to purify us from any impurities . Therefore, sometimes we are instructed to abrogate mitzvot (rebuking a sinner, helping a righteous friend unload, bringing relief to a suffering animal), and perform mitzvot that we are not originally obligated to do (show love and kindness to someone we should rebuke), in order to overcome our negative impulse. Since the mitzvot were given in order to purify us, the mitzvot that are more likely to purify us take precedence over other mitzvot.

Parsha Pearls

In this week’s Torah reading it says: “Do not afflict any widow or orphan (Shemot 22:21).” The Torah specifies widows and orphans because they are more delicate and vulnerable than others. However, this instruction is not limited to how we treat widows and orphans. Included in this pasuk, Rashi explains, is the admonition to be careful not to cause affliction to any human being.
Our sages tell us that the Romans were leading Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Shimon to their execution. Rabbi Shimon said to Rabbi Yishmael, “Rebbi, I feel disturbed because I don’t know what sin warranted my death.”
Rabbi Yishmael responded, “Was there ever an occasion when someone came to ask you for a ruling and you made them wait while you quickly attended to some personal need? The Torah warns us not to afflict another person, no matter how mild the affliction may be.”
Rabbi Shimon said, “Rebbi, you have comforted my spirit.”
How insistent the Torah is that we treat others with sensitivity! Rabbi Shimon felt that his death sentence was justified for causing someone slight anguish by making them wait a few moments.
We must be careful with every human being in every second and in every circumstance not to hurt or cause even the slightest pain.

Glimpses of Greatness

During Nissan 2009/5769, when Rav Elyashiv, zt”l was already in his centennial year and very weak, he was unable to give his shiur in Tiferes Bachurim‎, let alone answer questions from the public. Yet to everyone’s surprise, he exerted himself to participate in a celebration in Binyanei Ha’uma in honor of the Chevron Yeshivah.
Even in his younger, healthy years, Rav Elyashiv did not frequent public gatherings. Why did he suddenly invest such intense efforts to attend this event?
One of the atendees of Rav Elyashiv’s shiur mustered up the courage to ask him why he participated in this event.
“The gathering was for the purpose of supporting Torah,” Rav Elyashiv explained, ” and I wanted to take part in this mitzvah. The obligation to support Torah is so great that one must even endanger his life for it!”
The mitzvah of supporting Torah is not limited to donating money; it includes any act that inspires others to support Torah.
Even if Rav Elyashiv couldn’t give a lot of money to the Chevron Yeshivah, he did not exempt  himself from the obligation of supporting Torah.

Halacha Weekly

Q: Is it permissible to put up a mezuzah in a place where it might get stolen?
A: Halacha tells us that we are obligated to preserve and secure the sanctity of holy objects. So, if we placed a mezuzah in a location where it might be stolen, we are bringing it “Lidei Bizayon:” “into a position of being disgraced,” since it could be vandalized. However, there is also the obligation we have to place a mezuzah where we live. In such a case where the mezuzah might be stolen, there are several options for a solution:
  1. One could make a hole in the side of the doorpost and place the mezuzah there, then cover it. It must still be clear, however, that there is a mezuzah there.
  2.  One could place the mezuzah on the doorpost inside the house.
  3. If there is no room to do that, then one could place the mezuzah on the posts around the door even though the posts are not on the inner side of the door.
  4. If that is also not feasible, then one could place the mezuzah on the wall outside the doorpost, as long as it is within four inches of the doorpost.

In memory of Esther Recca and Joyce Frand, A”H.
By Jean Claude and Carol Recca