The Shabbos Table – Mishpatim: R’ Y. Sacks Shlita: The Magic Words of an Eved Hashem

This D’var Torah should be a Zechus L’Ilui Nishmas my mother Chaya Rochel Bas Dovid Tzvi A”H, my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my maternal grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my paternal grandfather Moshe Ben Yosef A”H, my paternal grandmother Channah Freidel Bas Avraham A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein,

It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:

-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel

-My grandmother Shulamis Bas Etta


-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili

_R’ Simcha Yitzchak Ben Mirela Yudka

-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis

-Yonatan Menachem Mendel Ben Orly, Eli Aharon Michel Ben Chaya

-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of HaRav HaGa’on V’Sar HaTorah Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim Ben HaRav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky A”H, Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken by terrorists (Hashem Yikom Damam) and other tragedies.

-It should also be a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael during this dire time, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus.

-The wounded should experience Refuah Shileimah, the captives should be returned safely, the fallen should experience Kevurah and Aliyah for their Neshamos and Nekamah for their Dam, their Krovim should experience Nechamah, the Chayalim should be Matzliach and Minatzei’ach, and Am Yisrael should experience Geulah.





Be”H, I will be translating / transcribing / paraphrasing Divrei Torah of my Rebbi, HaGaon R’ Yonason Avner Sacks Shlita. (Any inaccuracies, whether added, misrepresented, or due to omission and/or points lost in translation or context should be attributed to me alone. * = My addition.)






“The Magic Words of an Eved Hashem”



Based on:

Parsha Shiur – Parshas Yisro: Taryag Mitzvos Kelulos B’Aseres HaDibros

Parsha Shiur – Yisro / Mishpatim: “Kafah Aleihem Har K’Gigis”

Sicha – Mishpatim: Avdus V’Ahavah

“Kafah Aleihem Har K’Gigis” [Chayei Adam B’Midos HaTorah, Pages 72-75, Chayei Adam B’Talmud Torah Page 109, among other Sefarim]


Retzias Eved Ivri – Why Does Beis Din Pierce the Ear?


The Gemara in Kiddushin (14B, 22B) describes the plight of the Eved Ivri, why is it that we pierce the ear of the Eved who decides to remain a slave even after six years. The Gemara reveals two possibilities, a Machlokes between the Chachamim and R’ Elazar, the common theme being that it must be something that the Eved heard and failed to internalize; therefore, that demands and the Torah mandates Retziah (piercing). One possibility of course is that the “אֹזֶן זֹאת שֶׁשָּׁמְעָה עַל הַר סִינַי לֹא תִגְנֹב” (“ear that heard ‘Don’t steal'” – Shemos 20:13), and yet, he stole and did not listen to the D’var Hashem. The second possibility is that the ear that heard, “כִּֽי־לִ֤י בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ עֲבָדִ֔ים עֲבָדַ֣י הֵ֔ם” (“For the B’nei Yisrael are Mine as servants, they are My servants” – Vayikra 25:55), and yet, this person went ahead and acquired himself a master.


Realize that this is a significant Machlokes, as if the reason is due to the fact that this individual violated “Lo Signov,” then the Din of Retziah is limited to cases of “Nimkar B’G’neivaso,” when he was sold for his act of theft, in other words, “Machruhu Beis Din” (Beis Din sold him), the Shitah of the Chachamim. But, if the reason is the fact that this individual ignored the declaration of “Ki Li B’nei Yisrael Avadim,” then that would even apply to the case of “Mocher Es Atzmo” (“he sold himself”), when he chose to have an Adon for himself.


The Timing of Retzias Eved Ivri


Whichever reason one adopts for Retzias Ozen Eved Ivri, one could raise a simple question regarding the timing of the Retziah. Regarding the individual who steals, the Maharil Diskin asks that I would have expected that his ear would be pierced immediately, right then and there. When he asks why we’re doing so, he will respond that he ignored that warning of “Lo Signov.” Now, imagine the actual scenario when the individual has stolen, then served for six years, and then all of a sudden, we pierce his ear. If he asks, “Why are you piercing my ear?” How strange it would be to respond that it is because he ignored “Lo Signov.” We could just imagine the shock of the Eved; “Oh, you mean what I did six years ago?” Is this really the appropriate time for that? Shouldn’t the consequence be immediate? It seems so surprising that there should be such a lapse of years and years between the violation of “Lo Signov” and the Onesh (penalty).


The Onesh Unrecognized – Maharil Diskin


The Maharil Diskin writes something incredibly profound, that of course, the Onesh is immediate. His Onesh for “Lo Signov” was the Avdus (servitude). The fact that he was sold as an Eved was the Onesh. But, when HaKadosh Baruch Hu gives you any measure of Onesh, Yisurim (travails), or any consequences, you have to take a step back and recognize that it is an Onesh. There has to be Hakaras HaCheit (recognition of the sin), a Viduy (confession), a Kabbalah (commitment), a Teshuvah (repentance).

The tragedy of the Eved Ivri who opts to remain an Eved is that, in his mind, Avdus became, not an Onesh, but an ideal. Sometimes, you can condition yourself, when you get so used to the Onesh, to view it as an ideal. Therefore, Maharil Diskin writes that a new Onesh is necessary, because the first Onesh obviously didn’t serve its purpose. It went unrecognized.


Galus as an Ideal


This is not only true for the Eved Ivri, but for Galus as well, especially a Galus of “Chessed” (“benevolence”). In earlier generations, the Netziv writes in the beginning of his Haggadah Shel Pesach, it was obvious that Galus was an absolute Onesh. The suffering of Klal Yisrael was clear. “U’Mipnei Chata’einu Galinu Mei’Artzeinu” (“And because of our sins we were exiled from our land.”) A great challenge of living in a Galus of Chessed when you have every opportunity available, you can tragically distort and confuse an Onesh with an ideal. If I would ask how important it is to Mitzapeh Li’Y’shuah (longing for salvation), to do everything you can to change the current circumstances, I imagine that if we were living in more dire conditions, the answer would be very different than it might be for us. That is because it is easy to become complacent in a Galus of Chessed.

But if, Rachmana L’tzlan, we see the Onesh as an ideal, we may think to ourselves, “Why be Mitzapeh Li’Y’shuah? After all, what more could we have than one we have now? We have opportunities, freedom, liberty” and the like. Rachmana L’tzlan, it is as though we turn to HaKadosh Baruch Hu and tell Him that we need a more dire Onesh of Galus to recognize it and yearn, “V’Sechezenah Eineinu B’Shuv’cha L’Tzion B’Rachamim” (“And let our eyes see Your return to Tzion with mercy”).

That is an incredibly profound lesson for us B’Zman HaZeh. Recognize that Galus is an Onesh, not an ideal. Of course, we have to be grateful for the many Chassadim, but never confuse this for the destiny and idyllic existence of Kneses Yisrael.


Not for Becoming a Slave, but for Remaining a Slave


Now, what if we assume the other possibility, that the piercing of the ear of the Eved Ivri is a response to “Ki Li B’nei Yisrael Avadim Avadai Heim”? The same question could be asked. Once the person sold himself, we should pierce his ear immediately. He acquired for himself a master. And yet, years pass and chooses to remain an Eved. Only then do we pierce his ear, for remaining an Eved. But, what about becoming an Eved?


“Ahavati Es Adoni”-“I Love My Master”


The answer can be found in the Pesukim. A person goes ahead and decides to become an Eved. That’s not great. I might take the person aside and tell him that that is not the most appropriate thing to do, to sell himself as a slave. But, if I were to ask him, “Why did you do so? What was your mindset, your motivation?” The Torah says, “Ki Yamuch Achica” (“when your brother becomes poverty-stricken” -Vayikra 25:39). He was desperate, down and out, distraught. His back was against the wall. Yes, it isn’t an appropriate, but his desperate choice to be Mocher Es Atzmo says little about his relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

All of a sudden, his years of Avdus are complete and he wants to remain an Eved. Why? Here, the Torah does not say, “Ki Yamuch Achica.” It is not because he is still desperate, in despair, in anguish. The Torah says he chooses to remain a slave because “Ahavati Es Adoni” (“I Love My Master” -Shemos 21:5). That is when the Torah responds: “Ki Li B’nei Yisrael Avadim Avadai Heim.”


“Na’aseh V’Nishma” – An Eved & an Oheiv


In our relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, we our Avadim; “Lo Chein Avdi Moshe B’Chol Beisi Ne’eman Hu” (“not so concerning Moshe My servant, in My entire house He is trusted” -Bamidbar 12:7). And that is our greatest possible accolade, to be an “Eved Hashem.” But, where does that Avdus come from? Despair? Depression? Desperation? In Parshas Mishpatim, we proudly declare “Na’aseh V’Nishma” (Shemos 24:7)! A typical, thinking person would not have simply declared such a thing, preempting “Na’aseh” to “Nishma,” committing to do before we even hear the charge to which we are committing.


Who is the person who declares “Na’aseh V’Nishma”?

  • Sforno: The Pledge of an Eved

The Sforno writes that it is an “Eved,” a loyal servant, who would declare such a thing. An Eved doesn’t have the right of refusal. An Eved can’t exercise discretion. An Eved will respond in the affirmative tpo whatever his master asks him to do.

  • Rashi: The Pledge of an Oheiv

Rashi in Maseches Shabbos (88B, s.v. “דְּסָגֵינַן בִּשְׁלִימוּתָא”) writes that “Na’aseh V’Nishma” is declared by those who are acting “K’Derech HaOsim Mei’Ahavah” (in the way of of those acting out of love). “Na’aseh V’Nishma” is the commitment of an Oheiv. When one displays a Midas HaAhavah, he is willing to do whatever his beloved tells him.


Convergence / Confluence of Avdus & Ahavah


That is an unusual relationship, the convergence and confluence of Avdus (servitude) and Ahavah (love). This combination does not occur within natural relationships between Basar VaDam (flesh and blood). We wouldn’t associate Avdus with Ahavah. One does not naturally love his master. But, that is not the case with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. “יִשְׂמַח מֹשֶׁה בְּמַתְּנַת חֶלְקוֹ כִּי עֶבֶד נֶאֱמָן קָרָאתָ לּוֹ” (“Moshe rejoiced in the gift of his portion because he was called a trusted servant”). There is a Simcha of being an Eved Hashem, but only when it comes to being an Eved Hashem.

It is one thing if an individual fell upon hard times and sold himself temporarily as an Eved Ivri. But, once the Eved Ivri chooses to remain a Eved to Basar VaDam with the declaration of “Ahavati Es Adoni,” combining Avdus with Ahavah, he has infringed on his unique relationship with HaKadosh Baruch Hu, the synthesis of Avdus and Ahavah.


*We should be Zocheh to this synthesis of dedication to our Avodas Hashem with immense love, and Hashem should display His dedication and love for us with the coming of the Geulah in the times of Moshiach, Bimheirah BiYomeinu! Have a wonderful Shabbos / Chodesh Adar Rishon!