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Parshas Mishpatim 5775
Candle Lighting Time: 5:16 pm
February 13, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 14
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Dvar Torah


True Liberty 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas  


February is Black History Month. While the struggle over civil rights continues, this week's Parsha behooves us to examine slavery from a Torah standpoint. At one time, White preachers from the South spoke of the "biblical" obligation to enslave. This seemingly gave slave owners' license to be extremely cruel to their "property." The effects of that era still resonate today. A simple examination of the verses dealing with slavery reveals a different reality. One example is the Chinuch's explanation as to why a slave owner receives capital punishment for beating his non-Jewish slave to death. He explains that it is G-d's will to eradicate extreme cruelty from His people. To be possessed by anger to the point of murder, is not tolerable.


Another area that stands out are the unique laws that direct the Jewish People how to treat the Jewish thief. Rabbi Samson Rephael Hirsch points out that nowhere do we find prison as an option for punishment. The Jewish thief is sold to a Jewish family, who are commanded to treat him in a certain manner in order not to crush his spirit. Further, he is only sold if he can't pay back the value of the object and not for the additional fine. Rabbi Hirsch asks, why is it that only stealing requires being sold into slavery? Why isn't slavery a punishment for all other scenarios that might make one obligated monetarily to his fellow Jew?


Rabbi Hirsch proposes that it is the lack of respect for another's possessions that is behind this. An individual's property is part of his greater spiritual reality. When an individual commits robbery, he displays a total disregard and lack of respect for another's property. Being incubated in slavery, removed from self-worth, gives one time to reflect on the realities of life.


In fact the idea of being sold for six years and freed on the seventh reflects this concept. This slave had fallen into the world of six, which represents the physical, and ignores the world of seven, the world of the hidden spiritual. The thief ignored a higher purpose to life. The six year period of slavery, says Rabbi Hirsch, is an opportunity to subordinate his infatuation with physicality, and elevate himself to an appreciation of the seventh, the spiritual.


The Nesivos Shalom asks about the slave who chooses to remain in servitude and gets his ear drilled as a result. His lack of desire to be a direct servant of G-d is the reason for this punishment. Why, then, doesn't this ceremony occur as soon as he sold?


The Nesivos Shalom answers that there are different cycles of six and seven. Each represents a Jew on a certain level. Shabbos happens each week in the home of a Jew who understands the purpose of life. However, there are those for whom Shabbos occurs only after six years. The verse that gives us the command to toil the land for six years and let it rest on the seventh, characterizes the individual who is attached to the land, i.e. the physical. For a person in slavery, six years is a chance to learn to learn how to bring in Shabbos (the spiritual) and make Shabbos a weekly occurrence. If even after his initial time in slavery he cannot appreciate the rigors of a Jewish life, he needs a more intense process of six times six, and seven times seven to fully realize a higher purpose. This is why the Jewish slave doesn't have his ear drilled immediately. G-d gives the thief the chance to reflect upon his sorry state, with the goal of Shabbos (the spiritual) at the end. Failure to appreciate this process, demands that his ear be drilled, for now he is deliberately refusing to let go of the physical. May we never forget that G-d is Keili, our personal G-d (as described in the prayer Adon Olam), that we all have the potential for a personal connection with Him. Maintaining that awareness is the key to spiritual liberty and not physical enslavement.








Dvar Halacha
The Laws of Purim  part 2


By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



It is forbidden to interrupt, for anything that is not Megillah related, from the time that the brachos are recited before the Megillah thru all the brachos that are recited after the Megillah is read (Shulchan Aruch 692:2). Therefore, one needs to be extremely careful not to talk at all while listening to the Megillah. This includes even divrei Torah (Mishneh Berurah 692:9). If one did talk and ended up not hearing even one word of the Megillah, he is not yotzei (Mishneh Berurah 690:19 & 692:9). If one is in doubt whether he heard every word of the Megillah, we do not say safek derabbanun l'kula (with regard to a doubt in a rabbinical halachah we are usually lenient), since the reading of the Megillah is not a halachah derabbanan, and one would be required to hear it again (Koveitz Halachos [Piskei Reb Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 8:14 based on Mishneh Berurah 692:16. However see Aruch Hashulchan 687:4 that seemingly argues).


If one misses hearing a word from the baal korei, he can read that word to himself (Mishneh Berurah 690:19). Therefore, it is essential that each person listening has a Chumash or Megillah in front of him during the laining, since it is very likely that when children are making noise by Haman, it is nearly impossible to hear each word, therefore one could read that word. As an aside, the Mishneh Berurah [690:26] holds that l'chatchila one should have a kosher Megillah, because it is preferable to read from a kosher Megillah than from a Chumash.


One should not answer Baruch Hu U'varuch Shemo to the brachos of the Megillah, since some Poskim hold it is considered a hefsik (interruption) (Aruch Hashulchan 273:6). If one did, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Koveitz Halachos 12:5 based on Mishneh Berurah 124:21).


In order to fulfill one's obligation, he needs to have in mind that he wants to be yotzei with the baal korei's reading (Shulchan Aruch 690:14). If one did not, he is not yotzei (Mishneh Berurah 690:48 & 60:10). People sitting in shul [waiting for the Megillah to be read] are most probably having kavannah to be yotzei and therefore would not need specific kavannah to be yotzei (Mishneh Berurah 690:49)There is a well-known customfor children to bang or make noise when the word "Haman" is read. This is based on the Posuk [Devarim 25:19] "Timcheh Es Zaicher Amalek (you shall erase the memory of Amalek") (Rama 690:17). The Rama adds that one should never make fun of any minhag, since they were established for a reason. The Mishneh Berurah [690:59] brings different opinions whether one should make noise or not.


The minhag is to read four Posukim out loud that refer to the redemption (Rama 690:17). They are: Ish Yehudi,U'mordechai Yotzei, La'yehudim Hoy'sa Orah, andKee Mordechai [many Megillos have these Posukim bolded]. This is in order to keep the children awake and to pay attention to the reading [which is included in the mitzvah to educate the children to publicize the neis] (Mishneh Berurah 689:16).


Many congregations have the minhag to recite the names of Haman's ten sons out loud and in one breath, to allude that all 10 of them died at the same time (Shulchan Aruch 690:15). If one did not, he nevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Rama 690:15).


After the Megillah reading, everyone is required to say Arur Haman, Baruch Mordechai, Arura Zeresh, Barucha Esther (cursed is Haman, blessed is Mordechai, cursed is Zeresh, blessed is Esther) (Shulchan Aruch 690:16). L'chatchila, one should hear the Megillah read in the havara (pronunciation) that he is accustomed to. If he did not, he hasnevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Koveitz Halachos 11:5).


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