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Sefirat HaOmer and Shavuot (Mitzvot 306-307)
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Why do we call the holiday Shavuot? Why do Chazal refer to it as Atzeret? Why is there no specific mitzvah associated with Shavuot (aside from the Shtei HaLechem)? The essence of Sefirat HaOmer according to the Chinuch is to express our excitement about receiving the Torah which was the purpose of the Exodus. The […]
Who Cannot Testify in Beit Din (Mitzvah 75)
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(לא תשא שמע שוא תשת ידך עם רשע להיות עד חמס” (שמות כג:א” The Torah prohibits individuals from giving testimony if they are a sinner (listed in the Mishna in Sanhedrin 3:3). What are the deeper concerns in allowing someone who is a “בעל עבירה” from giving testimony? Why aren’t we only concerned with whether […]
Paying Your Workers on Time – Bal Talin (Mitzvot 230 & 588)
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לא תלין פעולת שכיר אתך עד בקר” – ויקרא יט:יג” לא תעשק שכיר עני ואביון…ביומו תתן שכרו ולא תבוא עליו השמש כי עני הוא ואליו הוא נשא את נפשו ולא יקרא עליך אל יהוה והיה בך חטא” – דברים כד:יד-טו” Why does Parshat Kedoshim, which is about holiness, include so many mitzvot Bein Adam LeChavero? […]
Honoring the Sages (Mitzvah 257)
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(מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן ויראת מאלקיך אני ה'”(ויקרא יט:לב” There is a three-way machloket about whom this mitzvah applies: 1) for those who are 60; 2) for those who are 70; 3) one who is wise. The Rambam phrases the mitzvah as כבוד חכמים and codifies it in הלכות תלמוד תורה, placing the […]
Don’t Judge a Litigant in Their Absence (Mitzvah 74)
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“לא תשא שמע שוא” (Shemot 23:1) The Chinuch understands that this is specifically referring to the prohibition against a judge participating in a court proceeding in which one of the litigants is absent. The Chinuch writes that the positive side of this commandment is מדבר שקר תרחק – to distance oneself from falsehood. Misleading advertising: […]
Not to Eat from a Treifah (Mitzvah 73)
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ואנשי קדש תהיון לי ובשר בשדה טרפה לא תאכלו לכלב תשליכון אתו” – שמות כב:ל” What is the definition of טריפה (literally “torn”)? What makes an animal a treifah? Why is this commandment which a) is not about civil law and b) not bein Adam lechavero in Parshat Mishpatim? Why does the Torah prohibit a […]
Lifnei Iver – Weapons Sales (Mitzvah 232)
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“לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול ויראת מאלקיך אני ה” To what extent is one who sells weapons liable for any illegal or immoral use? Even if selling arms is a necessary evil, we need to be careful not to treat it as a lechatchila. We need to remember it’s not the ideal […]
Do Not Curse Judges, God, and Kings (Mitzvot 69-71, 231)
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(אלוקים לא תקלל ונשיא בעמך לא תאור” (שמות כב:כז” (לא תקלל חרש”  (ויקרא יט:יד” Is the first half of the verse referring to cursing God or a judge? The Sefer HaChinuch lists both. When the Torah lists a punishment, it also separately provides a warning. When you use God’s name in vain or to curse […]
Loans to the Poor – part two (Mitzvot 66-68)
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Watch part one When someone approaches you asking for tzedakah, to what extent do you need to check to make sure it’s legitimate? The Rambam holds there is an obligation to check which means, practically that it’s best to give tzedakah through an organization since it can more efficiently check the person’s legitimacy. A poor […]