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21:1  These are the rules that you shall set before them:

v’-AY-leh ha-mish-pa-TEEM a-SHER ta-SEEM lif-nay-HEM

כא:א  וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם׃

 21:1   These are the rules

Following the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Torah discusses numerous civil laws dealing with honest and ethical business practices and interpersonal relationships. These laws precede the dictates regulating our relationship with Hashem, teaching us that religion demands not just belief, but ethical conduct as well. In fact, there is an oft-quoted adage, “derech eretz kadma laTorah” (דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה), which means that ‘ethics precedes Torah.’ Decency and common courtesy serve as the foundation for keeping the rest of the Torah’s commandments.6 comments

2  When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment.

ב  כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים יַעֲבֹד וּבַשְּׁבִעִת יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי חִנָּם׃

3  If he came single, he shall leave single; if he had a wife, his wife shall leave with him.

ג  אִם־בְּגַפּוֹ יָבֹא בְּגַפּוֹ יֵצֵא אִם־בַּעַל אִשָּׁה הוּא וְיָצְאָה אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ׃

4  If his master gave him a wife, and she has borne him children, the wife and her children shall belong to the master, and he shall leave alone.

ד  אִם־אֲדֹנָיו יִתֶּן־לוֹ אִשָּׁה וְיָלְדָה־לוֹ בָנִים אוֹ בָנוֹת הָאִשָּׁה וִילָדֶיהָ תִּהְיֶה לַאדֹנֶיהָ וְהוּא יֵצֵא בְגַפּוֹ׃

5  But if the slave declares, “I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free,”

ה  וְאִם־אָמֹר יֹאמַר הָעֶבֶד אָהַבְתִּי אֶת־אֲדֹנִי אֶת־אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת־בָּנָי לֹא אֵצֵא חָפְשִׁי׃

6  his master shall take him before Hashem. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life.

ו  וְהִגִּישׁוֹ אֲדֹנָיו אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ אֶל־הַדֶּלֶת אוֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָה וְרָצַע אֲדֹנָיו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ בַּמַּרְצֵעַ וַעֲבָדוֹ לְעֹלָם׃

7  When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are.

ז  וְכִי־יִמְכֹּר אִישׁ אֶת־בִּתּוֹ לְאָמָה לֹא תֵצֵא כְּצֵאת הָעֲבָדִים׃

8  If she proves to be displeasing to her master, who designated her for himself, he must let her be redeemed; he shall not have the right to sell her to outsiders, since he broke faith with her.

ח  אִם־רָעָה בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנֶיהָ אֲשֶׁר־לא [לוֹ] יְעָדָהּ וְהֶפְדָּהּ לְעַם נָכְרִי לֹא־יִמְשֹׁל לְמָכְרָהּ בְּבִגְדוֹ־בָהּ׃

9  And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens.

ט  וְאִם־לִבְנוֹ יִיעָדֶנָּה כְּמִשְׁפַּט הַבָּנוֹת יַעֲשֶׂה־לָּהּ׃

10  If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.

י  אִם־אַחֶרֶת יִקַּח־לוֹ שְׁאֵרָהּ כְּסוּתָהּ וְעֹנָתָהּ לֹא יִגְרָע׃

11  If he fails her in these three ways, she shall go free, without payment.

יא  וְאִם־שְׁלָשׁ־אֵלֶּה לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה לָהּ וְיָצְאָה חִנָּם אֵין כָּסֶף׃

12  He who fatally strikes a man shall be put to death.

יב  מַכֵּה אִישׁ וָמֵת מוֹת יוּמָת׃

13  If he did not do it by design, but it came about by an act of Hashem, I will assign you a place to which he can flee.

יג  וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא צָדָה וְהָאֱלֹהִים אִנָּה לְיָדוֹ וְשַׂמְתִּי לְךָ מָקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יָנוּס שָׁמָּה׃

14  When a man schemes against another and kills him treacherously, you shall take him from My very mizbayach to be put to death.

יד  וְכִי־יָזִד אִישׁ עַל־רֵעֵהוּ לְהָרְגוֹ בְעָרְמָה מֵעִם מִזְבְּחִי תִּקָּחֶנּוּ לָמוּת׃

15  He who strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

טו  וּמַכֵּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת׃

16  He who kidnaps a man—whether he has sold him or is still holding him—shall be put to death.

טז  וְגֹנֵב אִישׁ וּמְכָרוֹ וְנִמְצָא בְיָדוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת׃

17  He who insults his father or his mother shall be put to death.

יז  וּמְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ מוֹת יוּמָת׃

18  When men quarrel and one strikes the other with stone or fist, and he does not die but has to take to his bed

יח  וְכִי־יְרִיבֻן אֲנָשִׁים וְהִכָּה־אִישׁ אֶת־רֵעֵהוּ בְּאֶבֶן אוֹ בְאֶגְרֹף וְלֹא יָמוּת וְנָפַל לְמִשְׁכָּב׃

19  if he then gets up and walks outdoors upon his staff, the assailant shall go unpunished, except that he must pay for his idleness and his cure.

יט  אִם־יָקוּם וְהִתְהַלֵּךְ בַּחוּץ עַל־מִשְׁעַנְתּוֹ וְנִקָּה הַמַּכֶּה רַק שִׁבְתּוֹ יִתֵּן וְרַפֹּא יְרַפֵּא׃

20  When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged.

כ  וְכִי־יַכֶּה אִישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּוֹ אוֹ אֶת־אֲמָתוֹ בַּשֵּׁבֶט וּמֵת תַּחַת יָדוֹ נָקֹם יִנָּקֵם׃

21  But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property.

כא  אַךְ אִם־יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם יַעֲמֹד לֹא יֻקַּם כִּי כַסְפּוֹ הוּא׃

22  When men fight, and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined according as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on reckoning.

כב  וְכִי־יִנָּצוּ אֲנָשִׁים וְנָגְפוּ אִשָּׁה הָרָה וְיָצְאוּ יְלָדֶיהָ וְלֹא יִהְיֶה אָסוֹן עָנוֹשׁ יֵעָנֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר יָשִׁית עָלָיו בַּעַל הָאִשָּׁה וְנָתַן בִּפְלִלִים׃

23  But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life,

כג  וְאִם־אָסוֹן יִהְיֶה וְנָתַתָּה נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ׃

24  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

כד  עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן שֵׁן תַּחַת שֵׁן יָד תַּחַת יָד רֶגֶל תַּחַת רָגֶל׃

25  burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

כה  כְּוִיָּה תַּחַת כְּוִיָּה פֶּצַע תַּחַת פָּצַע חַבּוּרָה תַּחַת חַבּוּרָה׃

26  When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.

כו  וְכִי־יַכֶּה אִישׁ אֶת־עֵין עַבְדּוֹ אוֹ־אֶת־עֵין אֲמָתוֹ וְשִׁחֲתָהּ לַחָפְשִׁי יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ תַּחַת עֵינוֹ׃

27  If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

כז  וְאִם־שֵׁן עַבְדּוֹ אוֹ־שֵׁן אֲמָתוֹ יַפִּיל לַחָפְשִׁי יְשַׁלְּחֶנּוּ תַּחַת שִׁנּוֹ׃

28  When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox is not to be punished.

כח  וְכִי־יִגַּח שׁוֹר אֶת־אִישׁ אוֹ אֶת־אִשָּׁה וָמֵת סָקוֹל יִסָּקֵל הַשּׁוֹר וְלֹא יֵאָכֵל אֶת־בְּשָׂרוֹ וּבַעַל הַשּׁוֹר נָקִי׃

29  If, however, that ox has been in the habit of goring, and its owner, though warned, has failed to guard it, and it kills a man or a woman—the ox shall be stoned and its owner, too, shall be put to death.

כט  וְאִם שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא מִתְּמֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם וְהוּעַד בִּבְעָלָיו וְלֹא יִשְׁמְרֶנּוּ וְהֵמִית אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה הַשּׁוֹר יִסָּקֵל וְגַם־בְּעָלָיו יוּמָת׃

30  If ransom is laid upon him, he must pay whatever is laid upon him to redeem his life.

ל  אִם־כֹּפֶר יוּשַׁת עָלָיו וְנָתַן פִּדְיֹן נַפְשׁוֹ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־יוּשַׁת עָלָיו׃

31  So, too, if it gores a minor, male or female, [the owner] shall be dealt with according to the same rule.

לא  אוֹ־בֵן יִגָּח אוֹ־בַת יִגָּח כַּמִּשְׁפָּט הַזֶּה יֵעָשֶׂה לּוֹ׃

32  But if the ox gores a slave, male or female, he shall pay thirty shekalim of silver to the master, and the ox shall be stoned.

לב  אִם־עֶבֶד יִגַּח הַשּׁוֹר אוֹ אָמָה כֶּסֶף שְׁלֹשִׁים שְׁקָלִים יִתֵּן לַאדֹנָיו וְהַשּׁוֹר יִסָּקֵל׃

33  When a man opens a pit, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or an ass falls into it,

לג  וְכִי־יִפְתַּח אִישׁ בּוֹר אוֹ כִּי־יִכְרֶה אִישׁ בֹּר וְלֹא יְכַסֶּנּוּ וְנָפַל־שָׁמָּה שּׁוֹר אוֹ חֲמוֹר׃

34  the one responsible for the pit must make restitution; he shall pay the price to the owner, but shall keep the dead animal.

לד  בַּעַל הַבּוֹר יְשַׁלֵּם כֶּסֶף יָשִׁיב לִבְעָלָיו וְהַמֵּת יִהְיֶה־לּוֹ׃

35  When a man’s ox injures his neighbor’s ox and it dies, they shall sell the live ox and divide its price; they shall also divide the dead animal.

לה  וְכִי־יִגֹּף שׁוֹר־אִישׁ אֶת־שׁוֹר רֵעֵהוּ וָמֵת וּמָכְרוּ אֶת־הַשּׁוֹר הַחַי וְחָצוּ אֶת־כַּסְפּוֹ וְגַם אֶת־הַמֵּת יֶחֱצוּן׃

36  If, however, it is known that the ox was in the habit of goring, and its owner has failed to guard it, he must restore ox for ox, but shall keep the dead animal.

לו  אוֹ נוֹדַע כִּי שׁוֹר נַגָּח הוּא מִתְּמוֹל שִׁלְשֹׁם וְלֹא יִשְׁמְרֶנּוּ בְּעָלָיו שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם שׁוֹר תַּחַת הַשּׁוֹר וְהַמֵּת יִהְיֶה־לּוֹ׃

37  When a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox, and four sheep for the sheep

לז  כִּי יִגְנֹב־אִישׁ שׁוֹר אוֹ־שֶׂה וּטְבָחוֹ אוֹ מְכָרוֹ חֲמִשָּׁה בָקָר יְשַׁלֵּם תַּחַת הַשּׁוֹר וְאַרְבַּע־צֹאן תַּחַת הַשֶּׂה׃

22:1  If the thief is seized while tunneling, and he is beaten to death, there is no bloodguilt in his case.

כב:א  אִם־בַּמַּחְתֶּרֶת יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב וְהֻכָּה וָמֵת אֵין לוֹ דָּמִים׃

2  If the sun has risen on him, there is bloodguilt in that case.—He must make restitution; if he lacks the means, he shall be sold for his theft.

ב  אִם־זָרְחָה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ עָלָיו דָּמִים לוֹ שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם אִם־אֵין לוֹ וְנִמְכַּר בִּגְנֵבָתוֹ׃

3  But if what he stole—whether ox or ass or sheep—is found alive in his possession, he shall pay double.

im hi-ma-TZAY ti-ma-TZAY v’-ya-DO ha-g’-nay-VAH mi-SHOR ad kha-MOR ad SEH kha-YEEM sh’-NA-yim y’-sha-LAYM

ג  אִם־הִמָּצֵא תִמָּצֵא בְיָדוֹ הַגְּנֵבָה מִשּׁוֹר עַד־חֲמוֹר עַד־שֶׂה חַיִּים שְׁנַיִם יְשַׁלֵּם׃

 22:3   He shall pay double

The double payment for damages commanded in this verse is considered a penalty. Rabbi Moshe Lichtman, in his book Eretz Yisrael in the Parsha, reflects that according to Jewish Law, the authority for implementation of this penalty, and many others, rests only upon judges who have been ordained with a special authorization that was passed down from teacher to student beginning with Moshe. This chain of ordination was unfortunately broken at the time of the Bar Kochba revolt in the second century CE. However, Maimonides, a medieval scholar, philosopher and physician known by his Hebrew acronym Rambam, rules that once the masses of Jews reside in Eretz Yisrael and the rabbinic authorities there agree, this special ordination can be reinstated.Comment

4  When a man lets his livestock loose to graze in another’s land, and so allows a field or a vineyard to be grazed bare, he must make restitution for the impairment of that field or vineyard.

ד  כִּי יַבְעֶר־אִישׁ שָׂדֶה אוֹ־כֶרֶם וְשִׁלַּח אֶת־בעירה [בְּעִירוֹ] וּבִעֵר בִּשְׂדֵה אַחֵר מֵיטַב שָׂדֵהוּ וּמֵיטַב כַּרְמוֹ יְשַׁלֵּם׃

5  When a fire is started and spreads to thorns, so that stacked, standing, or growing grain is consumed, he who started the fire must make restitution.

ה  כִּי־תֵצֵא אֵשׁ וּמָצְאָה קֹצִים וְנֶאֱכַל גָּדִישׁ אוֹ הַקָּמָה אוֹ הַשָּׂדֶה שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם הַמַּבְעִר אֶת־הַבְּעֵרָה׃

6  When a man gives money or goods to another for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the man’s house—if the thief is caught, he shall pay double;

ו  כִּי־יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ כֶּסֶף אוֹ־כֵלִים לִשְׁמֹר וְגֻנַּב מִבֵּית הָאִישׁ אִם־יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב יְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנָיִם׃

7  if the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall depose before Hashem that he has not laid hands on the other’s property.

ז  אִם־לֹא יִמָּצֵא הַגַּנָּב וְנִקְרַב בַּעַל־הַבַּיִת אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים אִם־לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ בִּמְלֶאכֶת רֵעֵהוּ׃

8  In all charges of misappropriation—pertaining to an ox, an ass, a sheep, a garment, or any other loss, whereof one party alleges, “This is it”—the case of both parties shall come before Hashem: he whom Hashem declares guilty shall pay double to the other.

ח  עַל־כָּל־דְּבַר־פֶּשַׁע עַל־שׁוֹר עַל־חֲמוֹר עַל־שֶׂה עַל־שַׂלְמָה עַל־כָּל־אֲבֵדָה אֲשֶׁר יֹאמַר כִּי־הוּא זֶה עַד הָאֱלֹהִים יָבֹא דְּבַר־שְׁנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר יַרְשִׁיעֻן אֱלֹהִים יְשַׁלֵּם שְׁנַיִם לְרֵעֵהוּ׃

9  When a man gives to another an ass, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to guard, and it dies or is injured or is carried off, with no witness about,

ט  כִּי־יִתֵּן אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוּ חֲמוֹר אוֹ־שׁוֹר אוֹ־שֶׂה וְכָל־בְּהֵמָה לִשְׁמֹר וּמֵת אוֹ־נִשְׁבַּר אוֹ־נִשְׁבָּה אֵין רֹאֶה׃

10  an oath before Hashem shall decide between the two of them that the one has not laid hands on the property of the other; the owner must acquiesce, and no restitution shall be made.

י  שְׁבֻעַת יְהֹוָה תִּהְיֶה בֵּין שְׁנֵיהֶם אִם־לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ בִּמְלֶאכֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְלָקַח בְּעָלָיו וְלֹא יְשַׁלֵּם׃

11  But if [the animal] was stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner.

יא  וְאִם־גָּנֹב יִגָּנֵב מֵעִמּוֹ יְשַׁלֵּם לִבְעָלָיו׃

12  If it was torn by beasts, he shall bring it as evidence; he need not replace what has been torn by beasts.

יב  אִם־טָרֹף יִטָּרֵף יְבִאֵהוּ עֵד הַטְּרֵפָה לֹא יְשַׁלֵּם׃

13  When a man borrows [an animal] from another and it dies or is injured, its owner not being with it, he must make restitution.

יג  וְכִי־יִשְׁאַל אִישׁ מֵעִם רֵעֵהוּ וְנִשְׁבַּר אוֹ־מֵת בְּעָלָיו אֵין־עִמּוֹ שַׁלֵּם יְשַׁלֵּם׃

14  If its owner was with it, no restitution need be made; but if it was hired, he is entitled to the hire.

יד  אִם־בְּעָלָיו עִמּוֹ לֹא יְשַׁלֵּם אִם־שָׂכִיר הוּא בָּא בִּשְׂכָרוֹ׃

15  If a man seduces a virgin for whom the bride-price has not been paid, and lies with her, he must make her his wife by payment of a bride-price.

טו  וְכִי־יְפַתֶּה אִישׁ בְּתוּלָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־אֹרָשָׂה וְשָׁכַב עִמָּהּ מָהֹר יִמְהָרֶנָּה לּוֹ לְאִשָּׁה׃

16  If her father refuses to give her to him, he must still weigh out silver in accordance with the bride-price for virgins.

טז  אִם־מָאֵן יְמָאֵן אָבִיהָ לְתִתָּהּ לוֹ כֶּסֶף יִשְׁקֹל כְּמֹהַר הַבְּתוּלֹת׃

17  You shall not tolerate a sorceress.

יז  מְכַשֵּׁפָה לֹא תְחַיֶּה׃

18  Whoever lies with a beast shall be put to death.

יח  כָּל־שֹׁכֵב עִם־בְּהֵמָה מוֹת יוּמָת׃

19  Whoever sacrifices to a god other than Hashem alone shall be proscribed.

יט  זֹבֵחַ לָאֱלֹהִים יָחֳרָם בִּלְתִּי לַיהֹוָה לְבַדּוֹ׃

20  You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

כ  וְגֵר לֹא־תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃

21  You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan.

כא  כָּל־אַלְמָנָה וְיָתוֹם לֹא תְעַנּוּן׃

22  If you do mistreat them, I will heed their outcry as soon as they cry out to Me,

כב  אִם־עַנֵּה תְעַנֶּה אֹתוֹ כִּי אִם־צָעֹק יִצְעַק אֵלַי שָׁמֹעַ אֶשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתוֹ׃

23  and My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and your own wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

כג  וְחָרָה אַפִּי וְהָרַגְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בֶּחָרֶב וְהָיוּ נְשֵׁיכֶם אַלְמָנוֹת וּבְנֵיכֶם יְתֹמִים׃

24  If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them.

כד  אִם־כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת־עַמִּי אֶת־הֶעָנִי עִמָּךְ לֹא־תִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּנֹשֶׁה לֹא־תְשִׂימוּן עָלָיו נֶשֶׁךְ׃

25  If you take your neighbor’s garment in pledge, you must return it to him before the sun sets;

כה  אִם־חָבֹל תַּחְבֹּל שַׂלְמַת רֵעֶךָ עַד־בֹּא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ תְּשִׁיבֶנּוּ לוֹ׃

26  it is his only clothing, the sole covering for his skin. In what else shall he sleep? Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will pay heed, for I am compassionate.

כו  כִּי הִוא כסותה [כְסוּתוֹ] לְבַדָּהּ הִוא שִׂמְלָתוֹ לְעֹרוֹ בַּמֶּה יִשְׁכָּב וְהָיָה כִּי־יִצְעַק אֵלַי וְשָׁמַעְתִּי כִּי־חַנּוּן אָנִי׃

27  You shall not revile Hashem, nor put a curse upon a chieftain among your people.

כז  אֱלֹהִים לֹא תְקַלֵּל וְנָשִׂיא בְעַמְּךָ לֹא תָאֹר׃

28  You shall not put off the skimming of the first yield of your vats. You shall give Me the first-born among your sons.

כח  מְלֵאָתְךָ וְדִמְעֲךָ לֹא תְאַחֵר בְּכוֹר בָּנֶיךָ תִּתֶּן־לִּי׃

29  You shall do the same with your cattle and your flocks: seven days it shall remain with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.

כט  כֵּן־תַּעֲשֶׂה לְשֹׁרְךָ לְצֹאנֶךָ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים יִהְיֶה עִם־אִמּוֹ בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁמִינִי תִּתְּנוֹ־לִי׃

30  You shall be holy people to Me: you must not eat flesh torn by beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs.

ל  וְאַנְשֵׁי־קֹדֶשׁ תִּהְיוּן לִי וּבָשָׂר בַּשָּׂדֶה טְרֵפָה לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ לַכֶּלֶב תַּשְׁלִכוּן אֹתוֹ׃

23:1  You must not carry false rumors; you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness:

כג:א  לֹא תִשָּׂא שֵׁמַע שָׁוְא אַל־תָּשֶׁת יָדְךָ עִם־רָשָׁע לִהְיֹת עֵד חָמָס׃

2  You shall neither side with the mighty to do wrong—you shall not give perverse testimony in a dispute so as to pervert it in favor of the mighty

ב  לֹא־תִהְיֶה אַחֲרֵי־רַבִּים לְרָעֹת וְלֹא־תַעֲנֶה עַל־רִב לִנְטֹת אַחֲרֵי רַבִּים לְהַטֹּת׃

3  nor shall you show deference to a poor man in his dispute.

ג  וְדָל לֹא תֶהְדַּר בְּרִיבוֹ׃

4  When you encounter your enemy’s ox or ass wandering, you must take it back to him.

ד  כִּי תִפְגַּע שׁוֹר אֹיִבְךָ אוֹ חֲמֹרוֹ תֹּעֶה הָשֵׁב תְּשִׁיבֶנּוּ לוֹ׃

5  When you see the ass of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nevertheless raise it with him.

ה  כִּי־תִרְאֶה חֲמוֹר שֹׂנַאֲךָ רֹבֵץ תַּחַת מַשָּׂאוֹ וְחָדַלְתָּ מֵעֲזֹב לוֹ עָזֹב תַּעֲזֹב עִמּוֹ׃

6  You shall not subvert the rights of your needy in their disputes.

ו  לֹא תַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט אֶבְיֹנְךָ בְּרִיבוֹ׃

7  Keep far from a false charge; do not bring death on those who are innocent and in the right, for I will not acquit the wrongdoer.

ז  מִדְּבַר־שֶׁקֶר תִּרְחָק וְנָקִי וְצַדִּיק אַל־תַּהֲרֹג כִּי לֹא־אַצְדִּיק רָשָׁע׃

8  Do not take bribes, for bribes blind the clear-sighted and upset the pleas of those who are in the right.

ח  וְשֹׁחַד לֹא תִקָּח כִּי הַשֹּׁחַד יְעַוֵּר פִּקְחִים וִיסַלֵּף דִּבְרֵי צַדִּיקִים׃

9  You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.

ט  וְגֵר לֹא תִלְחָץ וְאַתֶּם יְדַעְתֶּם אֶת־נֶפֶשׁ הַגֵּר כִּי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃

10  Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield;

י  וְשֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים תִּזְרַע אֶת־אַרְצֶךָ וְאָסַפְתָּ אֶת־תְּבוּאָתָהּ׃

11  but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it, and what they leave let the wild beasts eat. You shall do the same with your vineyards and your olive groves.

v’-ha-sh’-vee-IT tish-m’-TE-nah un-tash-TAH v’-a-kh’-LU ev-yo-NAY a-ME-kha v’-yit-RAM to-KHAL kha-YAT ha-sa-DEH kayn ta-a-SEH l’-khar-m’-KHA l’-zay-TE-kha

יא  וְהַשְּׁבִיעִת תִּשְׁמְטֶנָּה וּנְטַשְׁתָּהּ וְאָכְלוּ אֶבְיֹנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְיִתְרָם תֹּאכַל חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה כֵּן־תַּעֲשֶׂה לְכַרְמְךָ לְזֵיתֶךָ׃

 23:11   In the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow

Every seventh year, all farms, fields, orchards and vineyards in Eretz Yisrael are left untended and unharvested. To this very day, the Sabbatical year is kept in Israel. The message of this unique commandment is similar to that of Shabbat. Just as we are commanded to keep Shabbat and cease our daily activities every seventh day, we are similarly to rest from working the fields every seventh year. Just as Shabbat reminds us that Hashem created the world (Exodus 20:10) and everything in it belongs to Him, the Sabbatical year reminds us that our economic success and all that we produce is in the hands of our Creator.1 comment

12  Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor, in order that your ox and your ass may rest, and that your bondman and the stranger may be refreshed.

יב  שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תַּעֲשֶׂה מַעֲשֶׂיךָ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי תִּשְׁבֹּת לְמַעַן יָנוּחַ שׁוֹרְךָ וַחֲמֹרֶךָ וְיִנָּפֵשׁ בֶּן־אֲמָתְךָ וְהַגֵּר׃

13  Be on guard concerning all that I have told you. Make no mention of the names of other gods; they shall not be heard on your lips.

יג  וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־אָמַרְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם תִּשָּׁמֵרוּ וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל־פִּיךָ׃

14  Three times a year you shall hold a festival for Me:

יד  שָׁלֹשׁ רְגָלִים תָּחֹג לִי בַּשָּׁנָה׃

15  You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread—eating unleavened bread for seven days as I have commanded you—at the set time in the month of Abib, for in it you went forth from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty-handed;

טו  אֶת־חַג הַמַּצּוֹת תִּשְׁמֹר שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצּוֹת כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִךָ לְמוֹעֵד חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב כִּי־בוֹ יָצָאתָ מִמִּצְרָיִם וְלֹא־יֵרָאוּ פָנַי רֵיקָם׃

16  and the Feast of the Harvest, of the first fruits of your work, of what you sow in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in the results of your work from the field.

טז  וְחַג הַקָּצִיר בִּכּוּרֵי מַעֲשֶׂיךָ אֲשֶׁר תִּזְרַע בַּשָּׂדֶה וְחַג הָאָסִף בְּצֵאת הַשָּׁנָה בְּאָסְפְּךָ אֶת־מַעֲשֶׂיךָ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶה׃

17  Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Sovereign, Hashem.

יז  שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה כָּל־זְכוּרְךָ אֶל־פְּנֵי הָאָדֹן יְהֹוָה׃

18  You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with anything leavened; and the fat of My festal offering shall not be left lying until morning.

יח  לֹא־תִזְבַּח עַל־חָמֵץ דַּם־זִבְחִי וְלֹא־יָלִין חֵלֶב־חַגִּי עַד־בֹּקֶר׃

19  The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of Hashem your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

יט  רֵאשִׁית בִּכּוּרֵי אַדְמָתְךָ תָּבִיא בֵּית יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא־תְבַשֵּׁל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵב אִמּוֹ׃

20  I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready.

hi-NAY a-no-KHEE sho-LAY-akh mal-AKH l’-fa-NE-kha lish-mor-KHA ba-DA-rekh v’-la-ha-VEE-a-KHA el ha-ma-KOM a-SHER ha-khi-NO-tee

כ  הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָךְ לְפָנֶיךָ לִשְׁמָרְךָ בַּדָּרֶךְ וְלַהֲבִיאֲךָ אֶל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר הֲכִנֹתִי׃

21  Pay heed to him and obey him. Do not defy him, for he will not pardon your offenses, since My Name is in him;

כא  הִשָּׁמֶר מִפָּנָיו וּשְׁמַע בְּקֹלוֹ אַל־תַּמֵּר בּוֹ כִּי לֹא יִשָּׂא לְפִשְׁעֲכֶם כִּי שְׁמִי בְּקִרְבּוֹ׃

22  but if you obey him and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

כב  כִּי אִם־שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקֹלוֹ וְעָשִׂיתָ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר אֲדַבֵּר וְאָיַבְתִּי אֶת־אֹיְבֶיךָ וְצַרְתִּי אֶת־צֹרְרֶיךָ׃

23  When My angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I annihilate them,

כג  כִּי־יֵלֵךְ מַלְאָכִי לְפָנֶיךָ וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ אֶל־הָאֱמֹרִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי הַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי וְהִכְחַדְתִּיו׃

24  you shall not bow down to their gods in worship or follow their practices, but shall tear them down and smash their pillars to bits.

כד  לֹא־תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְלֹא תָעָבְדֵם וְלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה כְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם כִּי הָרֵס תְּהָרְסֵם וְשַׁבֵּר תְּשַׁבֵּר מַצֵּבֹתֵיהֶם׃

25  You shall serve Hashem your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will remove sickness from your midst.

כה  וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֵת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וּבֵרַךְ אֶת־לַחְמְךָ וְאֶת־מֵימֶיךָ וַהֲסִרֹתִי מַחֲלָה מִקִּרְבֶּךָ׃

26  No woman in your land shall miscarry or be barren. I will let you enjoy the full count of your days.

כו  לֹא תִהְיֶה מְשַׁכֵּלָה וַעֲקָרָה בְּאַרְצֶךָ אֶת־מִסְפַּר יָמֶיךָ אֲמַלֵּא׃

27  I will send forth My terror before you, and I will throw into panic all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn tail before you.

כז  אֶת־אֵימָתִי אֲשַׁלַּח לְפָנֶיךָ וְהַמֹּתִי אֶת־כָּל־הָעָם אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹא בָּהֶם וְנָתַתִּי אֶת־כָּל־אֹיְבֶיךָ אֵלֶיךָ עֹרֶף׃

28  I will send a plague ahead of you, and it shall drive out before you the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites.

כח  וְשָׁלַחְתִּי אֶת־הַצִּרְעָה לְפָנֶיךָ וְגֵרְשָׁה אֶת־הַחִוִּי אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְאֶת־הַחִתִּי מִלְּפָנֶיךָ׃

29  I will not drive them out before you in a single year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply to your hurt.

כט  לֹא אֲגָרְשֶׁנּוּ מִפָּנֶיךָ בְּשָׁנָה אֶחָת פֶּן־תִּהְיֶה הָאָרֶץ שְׁמָמָה וְרַבָּה עָלֶיךָ חַיַּת הַשָּׂדֶה׃

30  I will drive them out before you little by little, until you have increased and possess the land.

m’-AT m’-AT a-ga-r’-SHE-nu mi-pa-NE-kha AD a-SHER tif-REH v’-na-khal-TA et ha-A-retz

ל  מְעַט מְעַט אֲגָרְשֶׁנּוּ מִפָּנֶיךָ עַד אֲשֶׁר תִּפְרֶה וְנָחַלְתָּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ׃

 23:30   until you have increased and possess the land

In these verses, Hashem describes a precise plan to inherit the Land of Israel through a gradual process. Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, a well-known medieval commentator, poet and philosopher, explains that although God could have destroyed the inhabitants of Canaan instantaneously, He gave the Jewish people time to increase and take over the land in an incremental, natural way. We are privileged to live in an era in which we can see this verse being fulfilled before our eyes. The once desolate land has warmly embraced the gradual return of the Jewish people and has become a source of spiritual blessing and economic success. Israel is known around the world for its scientific, medical, economic, technological and agricultural research and innovation.1 comment

31  I will set your borders from the Sea of Reeds to the Sea of Philistia, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hands, and you will drive them out before you.

לא  וְשַׁתִּי אֶת־גְּבֻלְךָ מִיַּם־סוּף וְעַד־יָם פְּלִשְׁתִּים וּמִמִּדְבָּר עַד־הַנָּהָר כִּי אֶתֵּן בְּיֶדְכֶם אֵת יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ וְגֵרַשְׁתָּמוֹ מִפָּנֶיךָ׃

32  You shall make no covenant with them and their gods.

לב  לֹא־תִכְרֹת לָהֶם וְלֵאלֹהֵיהֶם בְּרִית׃

33  They shall not remain in your land, lest they cause you to sin against Me; for you will serve their gods—and it will prove a snare to you.

לג  לֹא יֵשְׁבוּ בְּאַרְצְךָ פֶּן־יַחֲטִיאוּ אֹתְךָ לִי כִּי תַעֲבֹד אֶת־אֱלֹהֵיהֶם כִּי־יִהְיֶה לְךָ לְמוֹקֵשׁ׃

24:1  Then He said to Moshe, “Come up to Hashem, with Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy elders of Yisrael, and bow low from afar.

כד:א  וְאֶל־מֹשֶׁה אָמַר עֲלֵה אֶל־יְהֹוָה אַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶם מֵרָחֹק׃

2  Moshe alone shall come near Hashem; but the others shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”

ב  וְנִגַּשׁ מֹשֶׁה לְבַדּוֹ אֶל־יְהֹוָה וְהֵם לֹא יִגָּשׁוּ וְהָעָם לֹא יַעֲלוּ עִמּוֹ׃

3  Moshe went and repeated to the people all the commands of Hashem and all the rules; and all the people answered with one voice, saying, “All the things that Hashem has commanded we will do!”

ג  וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וַיְסַפֵּר לָעָם אֵת כָּל־דִּבְרֵי יְהֹוָה וְאֵת כָּל־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וַיַּעַן כָּל־הָעָם קוֹל אֶחָד וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה נַעֲשֶׂה׃

4  Moshe then wrote down all the commands of Hashem. Early in the morning, he set up a mizbayach at the foot of the mountain, with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Yisrael.

va-yikh-TOV mo-SHEH AYT kol div-RAY a-do-NAI va-yash-KAYM ba-BO-ker va-YI-ven miz-BAY-akh TA-khat ha-HAR u-sh’-TAYM es-RAY ma-tzay-VAH lish-NAYM a-SAR shiv-TAY yis-ra-AYL

ד  וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל־דִּבְרֵי יְהֹוָה וַיַּשְׁכֵּם בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּבֶן מִזְבֵּחַ תַּחַת הָהָר וּשְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה מַצֵּבָה לִשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

 24:4   With twelve pillars

If the Twelve Tribes are physically present at the foot of the mountain, what is the meaning behind the symbolic representation of the tribes through the twelve pillars erected by Moshe? Commentators reflect that these pillars are meant to represent all future descendants of the nation alongside the generation that exited Egypt. Based on this verse, the Sages of the Midrash teach that, in a sense, all the future souls of the Jewish nation were present at Sinai; they too witnessed the revelation of God and personally accepted the Torah and its laws upon themselves.1 comment

5  He designated some young men among the Israelites, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed bulls as offerings of well-being to Hashem.

ה  וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת־נַעֲרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּעֲלוּ עֹלֹת וַיִּזְבְּחוּ זְבָחִים שְׁלָמִים לַיהֹוָה פָּרִים׃

6  Moshe took one part of the blood and put it in basins, and the other part of the blood he dashed against the mizbayach.

ו  וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה חֲצִי הַדָּם וַיָּשֶׂם בָּאַגָּנֹת וַחֲצִי הַדָּם זָרַק עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

7  Then he took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, “All that Hashem has spoken we will faithfully do!”

ז  וַיִּקַּח סֵפֶר הַבְּרִית וַיִּקְרָא בְּאָזְנֵי הָעָם וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע׃

8  Moshe took the blood and dashed it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that Hashem now makes with you concerning all these commands.”

ח  וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַדָּם וַיִּזְרֹק עַל־הָעָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה דַם־הַבְּרִית אֲשֶׁר כָּרַת יְהֹוָה עִמָּכֶם עַל כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה׃

9  Then Moshe and Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy elders of Yisrael ascended;

ט  וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא וְשִׁבְעִים מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

10  and they saw the God of Yisrael: under His feet there was the likeness of a pavement of sapphire, like the very sky for purity.

י  וַיִּרְאוּ אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר׃

11  Yet He did not raise His hand against the leaders of the Israelites; they beheld Hashem, and they ate and drank.

יא  וְאֶל־אֲצִילֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא שָׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיֶּחֱזוּ אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאכְלוּ וַיִּשְׁתּוּ׃

12  Hashem said to Moshe, “Come up to Me on the mountain and wait there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the teachings and commandments which I have inscribed to instruct them.”

יב  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה עֲלֵה אֵלַי הָהָרָה וֶהְיֵה־שָׁם וְאֶתְּנָה לְךָ אֶת־לֻחֹת הָאֶבֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר כָּתַבְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָם׃

13  So Moshe and his attendant Yehoshua arose, and Moshe ascended the mountain of Hashem.

יג  וַיָּקָם מֹשֶׁה וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ מְשָׁרְתוֹ וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הַר הָאֱלֹהִים׃

14  To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. You have Aharon and Chur with you; let anyone who has a legal matter approach them.”

יד  וְאֶל־הַזְּקֵנִים אָמַר שְׁבוּ־לָנוּ בָזֶה עַד אֲשֶׁר־נָשׁוּב אֲלֵיכֶם וְהִנֵּה אַהֲרֹן וְחוּר עִמָּכֶם מִי־בַעַל דְּבָרִים יִגַּשׁ אֲלֵהֶם׃

15  When Moshe had ascended the mountain, the cloud covered the mountain.

טו  וַיַּעַל מֹשֶׁה אֶל־הָהָר וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן אֶת־הָהָר׃

16  The Presence of Hashem abode on Har Sinai, and the cloud hid it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moshe from the midst of the cloud.

טז  וַיִּשְׁכֹּן כְּבוֹד־יְהֹוָה עַל־הַר סִינַי וַיְכַסֵּהוּ הֶעָנָן שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים וַיִּקְרָא אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִתּוֹךְ הֶעָנָן׃

17  Now the Presence of Hashem appeared in the sight of the Israelites as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain.

יז  וּמַרְאֵה כְּבוֹד יְהֹוָה כְּאֵשׁ אֹכֶלֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הָהָר לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

18  Moshe went inside the cloud and ascended the mountain; and Moshe remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

יח  וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה בְּתוֹךְ הֶעָנָן וַיַּעַל אֶל־הָהָר וַיְהִי מֹשֶׁה בָּהָר אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה׃

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