Pearls of Rashi: Parshas Mishpotim II

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This week’s Torah portion is Mishpotim. The Parshah begins by telling us that Hashem told Moshe[1], “these are the ordinances (Mishpotim) which you shall place before them (meaning the Jewish Nation).” We need to understand why the Torah says that Moshe shall “place the ordinances before” them? It would seem more appropriate for the Torah to have said that these are the ordinances which Moshe shall teach them?”

Rashi cites the words from this verse “that you shall place before them and explains as follows. “Hashem said to Moshe, do not think of saying, ‘I will teach them the chapter or the law two or three times until they know it well, just as it was taught (to me). However, I will not trouble myself to enable them to understand the reasons for the matter and its explanation.’ That is why the Torah writes, ‘you shall place before them.’ You shall set the Torah before them like a table, set and ready to eat from.”

Rashi is telling us how Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to teach the Jews. Moshe must care about his students and not just fulfill Hashem’s task assigned to him. He must make sure that his students understand the Torah he is teaching them. It is not enough for him to present the material two or three times and presume they understood what he taught them.

This itself presents us with a great lesson. Unfortunately, some teachers teach Torah to their students without concern whether the students understand the material. We must learn from Moshe to make sure that we present the Torah in a manner that the students understand. Otherwise, we must explain it repeatedly, always looking for clearer ways of expressing the lesson, new allegories, etc., with which the students can connect.

A difficulty remains in Rashi’s words. Why does he write “two or three times?” We know that Rashi’s choice of words is exact; he certainly did not choose these numbers randomly!

The explanation is based on what the Talmud says[2]; “one must teach his students a lesson four times.” In other words, generally speaking, four times is enough for the student to comprehend and retain what he learned. However, according to the words of the Talmud, two or three times would not suffice. From this we can see just how precise Rashi’s words are.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 9, Page 38


DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE

IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris


[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 21:1.

[2]. Talmud Erchin, 53, b.

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