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Parshas Mishpatim


The Alter Rebbe
“And you shall serve Hashem your G-d.” The concept of service indicates that the master takes pleasure from the work of the servant, and the servant provides a service for his master through his work. So how does service or work apply with respect to Hashem?

“And you shall serve Hashem (YHVH) your G-d.” The name “YHVH” refers to Hashem insofar as He is above nature — was, is, and will be as one. A person must serve Hashem until the aspect of “YHVH” becomes for him “your G-d,” that is, until G-dliness is fixed in his brain and in his thoughts as though he actually sees it. (Torah Ohr)


The Mitteler Rebbe
“And He will bless your bread and your water ... and I will remove illness from amongst you ... there won’t be those who miscarry nor will there be barren ones in your land.” These three promises are connected as follows: When the earth (“your bread”) and the weather (“your water”) are good, a person is healthier, and then there won’t be those who miscarry or those who are barren.

In spiritual terms: When a person works on himself and purifies the spiritual air, then Hashem will remove from him any sickness, which is arrogance, the product of the filth instilled by the serpent in Eden. When a person no longer has that filth, then the promise “there won’t be those who miscarry nor will there be barren ones” is fulfilled, meaning that his love and fear of Heaven will last. (Toras Chaim)


The Tzemach Tzedek
“And Moshe was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Our Sages say, “A person does not attain his teacher’s understanding until 40.” A day Above is equivalent to our year. Thus Moshe was on the mountain for forty days so that he would truly receive the Torah. (Ohr HaTorah - Devarim)


The Rebbe Maharash
“The pauper with you.” Rashi: Consider yourself a poor man.

Through serving Hashem as “a poor man” — through nullification and humility before G-d — a person becomes a “vessel” for the aspect of “for with You is the source of life” [i.e., he connects with G-d’s very essence, realizing that G-d’s role of being “the source of life” is merely “with You,” secondary to Hashem Himself]. (Seifer HaMaamarim 5627)


The Rebbe Rashab
“And these are the laws that you shall place before them” (lifneihem). In Gemara Eiruvin it says: And from where do we know that it is obligatory “l’haros lo panim” (literally, “to show him a face,” an expression meaning to explain the reasoning behind the laws)? Because it says, “and these are the laws that you shall place before them” (lifneihem, etymologically related to the word panim). (It says “that you shall place before them,” and not “that you shall teach them,” because you must arrange and “place before them” a rationale that clarifies their learning — Rashi).

What is this concept of “l’haros lo panim” and how is this learned from this verse?

“L’haros panim” (to show a face) means seeing the face of the rav while he teaches. Through this is drawn the essence of the power of chachma (wisdom), which is above the teaching itself, to the extent that it affects an increase in the teaching itself.

Thus it says “which you shall place” and not “which you shall teach,” for teaching alludes only to the hashpa’a (that which is transmitted) and the ray of illumination. The words “you shall place,” however, refer to the essence itself, for when a particular thing is placed, the thing itself is placed. (Seifer HaMaamarim 5670)


The Rebbe Rayatz
“Don’t accept a false report, don’t set your hand with the wicked to be a corrupt witness (eid chamas).” Rashi: “Don’t accept a false report” — a warning to someone who believes slanderous talk.

The Alter Rebbe repeated a teaching he heard in Mezritch in the name of the Baal Shem Tov:

Every single Jew is given a special unique quality from Above, but when somebody defames another, they are “robbing” and taking away that person’s special quality and advantage.

This is alluded to in the verse “Don’t accept a false report”: Don’t accept slanderous talk about your friend so that you “don’t set your hand with the wicked,” that is, with the yetzer hara,

to be an eid,” to be two witnesses (for whenever it says “eid” it refers to two witnesses)

chamas” (which literally means robbery) to rob the special quality from your friend. (Seifer HaSichos 5701)


The Rebbe MH”M
“If you purchase a Hebrew servant.” The first law that appears in the Torah after the Giving of the Torah on Sinai is about the Hebrew servant. Why? The reason we pierce a servant’s ear after six years of work is, as Rashi says: “The ear that heard ‘for the Jewish people are My servant’ at Sinai (or the ear that heard ‘do not steal’ at Sinai) should be pierced.” Thus the connection with Sinai is apparent in the servant (even in his body), and this is why the Torah begins with this law. (Likkutei Sichos vol. 16)



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