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ויקם משה ויהושע משרתו ויעל משה אל הר אלקים

Moshe stood up with Yehoshua, his student, and Moshe ascended to the Mountain of G-d. (24:13)

Yehoshua was neither commanded to accompany Moshe Rabbeinu, nor did he have any function at the mountain. Nonetheless, as the loyal student and servant, he accompanied his Rebbe and waited for him at the foot of the mountain for forty days until he returned. The question is obvious: What did Yehoshua achieve by waiting at the bottom of the mountain? If he thought he would miss something, he could have set his “alarm clock” for forty days later (in the morning) and run up to the mountain and wait for Moshe. Why did he camp out at the mountain for…

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וגר לא תונה ולא תלחצנו כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (22:20)

The Torah shows its concern for the proper treatment of the weak, helpless, abandoned and the stranger/convert, who feel alone, estranged, although they should be welcomed and embraced. It is sad that there exist among us the few who lord over others due to their own insecurities. These people consider themselves better, privileged, powerful when, in fact, they are the ones who are weak and pathetic. The prohibition against any mistreatment of a ger, convert, is prefaced with a serious reminder to look back to our own history, when we were strangers in the land of Egypt. A newcomer to…

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כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון

You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. (22:21)

It is understandable that one should not afflict the widow and orphan. Why would anyone who has a modicum of human decency have to be commanded not to take advantage of the weak and defenseless? Apparently, when a profit can be made, or one can assuage his ego by dominating over others, human decency has little meaning – and even less influence. Horav Yechiel Meir, zl, m’Gustinin was asked why the Torah emphasizes that one many not afflict a widow and an orphan, as if one is permitted to do so to an ordinary Jew who is not a victim…

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ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them. (21:1)

Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to present a clear picture of Jewish civil law, teaching the people not only the letter of the law, but also its spirit – underlying principles and reasoning. This way they would develop a deeper understanding of the law, thus allowing for greater application. It is a desecration of Hashem’s Name for a Jew to bring litigation before a secular court, because, by inference, it indicates that their system of justice is superior to ours. (In certain instances, the power of a secular court is necessary to deal with a recalcitrant litigant. With Rabbinical approval, one…

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לא תזבח על חמץ דם זבחי

You shall not offer the blood of My feast-offering upon leavened bread. (23:18)

The Korban Pesach must be slaughtered on Erev Pesach, after all chametz has been disposed of. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that setting a designated time for the fulfillment of all matters is their source of preservation. Thus, concerning Korban Pesach — which is a seminal mitzvah included among a group of mitzvos affiliated with the liberation from Egypt and setting the stage for our nationhood — time and order are essential. The Torah gives preordained times for each and every component of the celebration of this Festival and its accompanying rituals. No commandment related to this time frame encroaches on…

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לא תהיה לו כנושה

Do not act toward him as a creditor. (22:24)

Hashem’s act of creating the world was an act of altruism. The Almighty needs nothing. He simply wants to do good, to benefit others. To this end, he expects His People to emulate His ways by identifying with the needs of others and looking for ways to alleviate their travail. It is important to underscore that travail comes in all forms and sizes. Just because an issue does not bother me does not mean that it would not bother anyone else. Our barometer for success is measured by what we do for others – not by what we do for…

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כי יתן איש אל רעהו כסף או כלים לשמר

If a man shall give money or vessels to his fellow to safeguard. (22:6)

Our parsha presents the laws concerning people who are entrusted to safeguard someone else’s property. If the pikadon, object (money or vessels) is lost, stolen or damaged, the liability of the shomer, custodian, varies according to the degree of his responsibility. For example, one who receives no compensation (shomer chinam) is responsible only if he had been in the position of safeguarding the article in his charge. One who receives compensation (shomer sachar) or a leasor (socheir) is responsible for loss or theft, unless it occurred in a situation beyond his control, an oneis. A borrower (shoeil) is responsible under…

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ובשביעית יצא לחפשי חנם

And in the seventh, he shall go free, for no charge. (21:2)

Overcome with economical woe, a Jew ignores the degradation that he will bring upon himself and resorts to theft to elevate himself from his sorrowful economic state. He is caught, and found lacking in funds with which to make restitution. As a result, he is sold into slavery. In the event that the value of the theft equals or exceeds the estimated value of his six years of work, he is sold as a bondsman. Jewish slavery is unlike any other form of restriction of personal freedom. The Jewish bondsman is treated quite well. Nonetheless, he is still a slave,…

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ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ד' נעשה ונשמע

They said, “Everything that Hashem has said, we will do and we will listen.” (24:7)

When a friend comes over to ask for a favor, the usual responses are: “Depends on what you ask”; “If it does not take too much time; “If it does not conflict with my schedule;” “If it is ‘legal.’” Rarely does one respond, “Sure, whatever you want.” Having said this, let us now appreciate Klal Yisrael’s response to Hashem’s Torah: Naaseh v’Nishma; “We will do, and we will listen.” No questions; no stipulations, no reasons: simply, whatever Hashem asks of us we are prepared to do. Veritably, this response is part of our DNA. When Hashem called Avraham Avinu, the Patriarch’s…

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אם כסף תלוה את עמי

When you lend money to My People. (22:24)

Lending money should be simple. After all, if I have and he does not have, why not share? There is always the slight issue of being paid back, but that usually happens. The Torah says, Im kesef talveh es ami, “When you lend money to My People.” The halachah is that if one has some money available for lending purposes, and he has the option of lending either to a Jew or a gentile, he should lend Ami, My People. A Jew precedes a gentile. Naturally, since we are open – minded, progressive, independent individuals, we might question this halachah….

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