Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

No Returns, No Exchanges

Posted by rabbiart on June 16, 2008

A study of the traditional 613 mitzvot (commandments/obligations) according to their order of appearance in the Torah.

Mitzvah 45 is the last of the series of mitzvot covering the treatment of Hebrew maidservants.  This is a “negative” mitzvah with that first requires an affirmative act, otherwise you cannot even be in a position to violate it.  The mitzvah can only apply to a man who purchases a Hebrew maidservant.  If you haven’t acquired a Hebrew maidservant, you cannot violate this mitzvah, no matter how much you might want to.

As we have already learned in studying the laws of the maidservant, they can only be in operation when the land of Israel is occupied and governed by the Jewish people, and when the laws of the jubilee year cycle are in effect.

The text of the verse on which this mitzvah is based  (Shemot 21:8) appears to say only that the maidservant cannot be sold to a foreign people.

אִם-רָעָה בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנֶיהָ, אֲשֶׁר-לא (לוֹ) יְעָדָהּ–וְהֶפְדָּהּ:  לְעַם נָכְרִי לֹא-יִמְשֹׁל לְמָכְרָהּ, בְּבִגְדוֹ-בָהּ

A bit of interpretation is required to arrive at the understanding of this mitzvah.  The “foreign people” reference, we are told, is simply a way of expressing the mitzvah in an emphatic way.  “If he sells here to another man, it seems to her as if she has been sold to a foreign people.  The purpose of this mitzvah?  Once more with feeling; compassion, compassion, compassion.

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