Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Mishpatim

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken

"... and he shall surely heal him." [21:19]

This week's reading is called "Mishpatim," or judgments, and it is an appropriate name: many Mitzvos are found in this parsha (53, by one count), and most of them are interpersonal laws which we naturally understand to be requirements of a civilized society. The majority (all?) of "Judgments" are Mitzvos between human beings. But the parsha also offers us something more -- the Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Mayer Kagan, uses the short phrase above to help us develop an entirely new outlook on interpersonal relations, on our coexistence with others.

In the Talmud [Bava Kamma 88a], our Sages say, "From here (we learn that) permission is given to the doctor to heal." Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, adds, "And we do not say that 'G-d made him sick; He will make him well.'" the verse above refers to the obligation of one who caused an injury to heal the victim (by paying the doctor), and nonetheless, Rashi says that G-d made the victim sick.

The Chofetz Chaim says, we learn from here that all pain or injury that a person suffers comes directly from G-d. This is true even when one person hits another! A person cannot hit someone else unless G-d deems it appropriate for the second person to be hit. So the involvement of the first person is only because "Bad things come about by way of a person 'with deficiencies.'" [The Hebrew idiom is lost in translation, but the intent is clear.]

The Torah is telling us, "When someone hits you, why should you get angry at him?" Obviously, he is a bad person whom you should avoid in the future - but that's his problem. Rather than taking revenge, take stock of your own actions! Why was it appropriate that you be hit?

The story is told of a particular yeshiva student who misbehaved on several occasions, until the Dean decided that he would have to expel him. On his way out, the student decided to take his last parting shots - so he stood on the front steps, and while waiting for his ride home explained in a loud voice exactly what he thought of the yeshiva and the dean who stood at its helm.

A few observers noticed that the dean himself was standing by a second story window, not trying to stop the student, but rather listening carefully. After the student had left, one of these observers asked the dean why he did not have someone rebuke the student. "Because," he responded, "I knew that some of what he said might be true. I was listening to see what I might learn." [I have seen this story recorded in a number of places, but unfortunately do not recall which yeshiva and which dean were involved.]

Obviously, this is a very high standard of behavior, one which cannot be reached overnight. Nonetheless, it certainly doesn't hurt to set such a high goal!


Text Copyright © 1996 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis.


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Great In His Own Times
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein - 5768

Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

Stealing: Not For The Taking
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Rainmaker
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

The Ideal Way of Life
Shlomo Katz - 5768

In a Heartbeat
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Noach - A 'Standard' Tzaddik
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

How To Need Nothing And Have Everything
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Improving Our Own World
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

> G-d's Message for All Humanity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Noach Did Not Become Wicked, He Just Became Plain
- 5768

Meaningful Speech
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

ArtScroll

Coming to Terms with the World to Come
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

A Place To Be
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

One for the Birds
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information