Equal Rights by Avi Wollman


At the very beginning of this week’s Parsha, the Torah says, “And these are the laws you shall place before them…” (21:1). The word “And” in this Pasuk comes to teach us, as Rashi says, that these laws were also given at Sinai. However, a question can be asked; why are these laws in different Parsha? What is the reason for this separation? In addition, why does the Torah begin discussing the Halachot of slaves right after the incident at Har Sinai? In fact, Bnei Yisrael will not have slaves for another fourteen years, when they settle in Eretz Yisrael. Why does the Torah not begin the section of laws with something more applicable at the time?

There are two parts, Rav Zweig answers, to our connection with Hashem. The first part is accepting the Mitzvot, and the second part is our responsibility for our fellow Jews. Currently, we are dealing with the latter half. It is our responsibility to care for our fellow Jews and to help them for that reason and not just because it is a law. Thereby, we fulfill our communal justice system in such a way. The slave, on the other hand, has failed to do this. He has stolen money from his fellow Jew and put himself up for slavery. He has betrayed both of his connections with Hashem. Yet, the Torah tells us, we must include him into society despite this, and therefore, these commandments are put first. We learn from this that no matter how bad someone may be, it is our responsibility to treat him with dignity and welcome him into society as our fellow Jew. 

The Art of Talking by Rabbi Hershel Solnica zt”l

Simple Mitzvot by Ben Katz