Parshas Mishpatim

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By Rabbi Shloimie Lindenbaum

ורפא ירפא (פרק כא פסוק יט)

In listing off the laws of various liabilities the Torah tells us that if two people are fighting and one damages the other in way that puts him out of commission, the attacker must pay various payments to the damaged party. The Torah ends off by saying that he should provide for the healing, i.e. pay for the doctor, as well. The Gemara (בבא קמא פה.) learns from this פסוק that one is allowed to work as a doctor and heal people. Rashi explains that one may have thought that because Hashem caused this person to be sick, we must rely solely on Him to heal, to this the פסוק tells us that one can use the services of a doctor. The Chofetz Chaim points out that the story in this פסוק is when someone was struck by their adversary. Clearly, even when one is injured or hurt by another human, it was all caused by a decree from Heaven. That is why even in this case one may have thought that they cannot utilize a doctor. Everything that happens to us, even when there is a seemingly obvious cause, is really from Hashem and it is His decision that causes our experience. He adds that this can be a tremendous source of comfort for us when we realize that all our pain and suffering is coming from a loving and merciful Father in Heaven. Clearly, if He is inflicting us with difficulties then it is for our own good.

אם כסף תלוה את עמי…לא תהיה לו כנשה לא תשימון עליו נשך (פרק כב פסוק כד)

The Torah tells us that when we lend someone else money, we should not act towards them as a creditor (oppressively demanding payment) and we should not charge them interest. Why are these two מצוות placed right next to each other? R’ Yehoshua Leib Diskin answered that the פסוק is hinting to a third scenario. Sometimes, one may be able to lend money, but is wary of the borrower pushing off paying the loan. To avoid this, the lender may agree to lend on the condition that interest will accrue with time, to ensure prompt payment. The lender has no intention of collecting the interest, as this is forbidden by the Torah, but he pretends that he will so that the borrower will feel pressure to pay back. This too is forbidden, and this is what the Torah is hinting to by juxtaposing these two הלכות. One cannot be “כנושה”- like a creditor, that is, although they are not actually demanding the money, they cannot use interest as a ploy to apply pressure to the borrower. That is the end of the פסוק- do not place on him interest.

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