Parshat Mishpatim

(Numbers 21:1-24:18)

(Haftara: Jeremiah 34:8-22, 33:25,26)

  1. [21:16] “Someone who steals a person and sells him…must be put to death.” Someone who steals property must repay the value of the property or pay double if he is convicted in court , and does not confess. However, someone who steals a person—kidnaps—gets the death penalty. Why does a kidnapper get such a severe penalty?
  1. [21:37] “…(the thief) will pay 5 cows for stealing a cow, and 4 sheep for stealing a sheep.” Rashi quotes R. Yochanan in the Talmud who says that God has mercy on a sheep thief because he humiliated himself by having to carry the sheep on his shoulders. A cow thief just walks out with the cow and there is no humiliation. The thief did not respect the owner of the sheep so why should the Torah worry about the thief’s honour?
  1. [22:2] The punishment for stealing property is that the thief must pay double. However, if someone kills a night burglar he is not punished. A burglar is not subject to the death penalty. Why is one permitted to kill a night burglar?
  1. [22:17] “Don’t allow a witch to live”. A witch tries to manipulate forces so that desirable things will happen in the world. We try to persuade God in prayer to make desirable things happen. We understand that what a witch does is a negative thing, but why is his or her punishment so severe?
  1. [24:11] “…and they saw God and they ate and drank.” Why would they eat and drink after seeing God?


[24:17] “And the vision of the glory of God was like a consuming fire…”

If a person wants to know if he is serving God properly, he should check if he feels an excitement and a “fire” in serving God.

–Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, 1740-1810.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


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