Nachal novea; makor chochma -
A flowing river; the source of wisdom (Mish. 18:4)

Parshas Mishpatim 5750

(Exodus 21:1-24:18)

"When you lend money to My people, to the poor man, do not [act as if you own him (Targum Onkelus) or] press him for repayment. Do not take interest from him." (Exodus 2.24)

When any amount of property, money, or goods changes hands from one person to the next, whether through a purchase, a gift, a loan, or a act of theft, the impact on the souls of the people involved is very great. Much more is transpiring on the spiritual level, than what could be detected on the surface. This is why so many laws contained in the Torah and the activities of our daily lives revolve around finance and the transacting of goods and moneys. In the following paragraphs we will try to explain and discuss some of the spiritual impacts that the exchange of property, goods, and moneys have on each individual's soul.

It often happens that two or more individuals come to have a disagreement over the possession of money. Each side claims that a particular sum of money belongs to him. When they are unable to resolve the issue and remain in a deadlock, they must have some way of resolving the impasse. When two sides are unable to resolve an issue, this is an indication that the facilities of judgment that G-d has given to each individual, has failed them and has fallen into the realm of the unholy. The facility of judgment contained in our minds is our most important possession in this world. All of our actions in this world is a result of the decisions that we make with our mind. If we make the wrong decision, it could possibly result in death -- in both this world and the next, G-d forbid! Therefore, when two sides are unable to come to a decision on what to do with money that is in dispute, many times they become paralyzed and it inhibits their ability to proceed with their lives. The decision-making facilities of the mind allow us to take action and proceed with our lives. When the decision-making facilities of the mind are taken away from us, either through internal or external factors, we are unable to proceed and progress with our lives. When this happens, it means that the precious resources of the mind have become trapped in the realm of evil and can not escape. This form of imprisonment is referred to as “galus,” exile. Therefore, when this happens, one must enlist the aid of a spiritual advisor and in cases of monetary impasses, one must go to a Rabbinical Court, which is called a Beis Din in Hebrew.

The function of the Beis Din is to rescue the decision making facilities of the minds of those who are involved in a dispute from the depths of the realm of evil, to where their minds have fallen. The Beis Din returns the decision making facilities of the parties involved in a dispute back to the realm of holiness. The Beis Din has this ability because they are learned Rabbis and have been trained to know the law of G-d concerning on how to resolve such disputes. When the Beis Din acts to resolve a dispute, they are acting as agents of G-d. As the verse says: "G-d stands in the congregation of the L-rd [the Beis Din], in the midst of the judges He (G-d] gives judgment" (Psalms 82:1). They are able to resolve any dispute through the power of holiness that has been granted to them by G-d. Therefore, the Beis Din has the ability to restore the fallen mental powers of judgment to all of those people who are involved in a dispute. When the ability to make decisions is rectified and restored to the realm of holiness, the money in dispute can then be returned to its rightful owner and the parties involved can get on with their lives.

Why was the person involved in the dispute forced by G-d to take a loan or be involved in a money transaction with the disputant in the first place? Many people take out loans and have business dealings and they don't always end up in court. Why did G-d being about that these two particular people had to get involved in the mess end aggravation of a lawsuit to begin with? When G-d brings it about that a person is forced to take a loan, it is due to the impairment of that person’s ability to make the right decisions.  The correct path and right decision is to be committed to seek out G-d. For the Talmud in Brachot states: "Who is it that is truly poor, it is only one who lack knowledge of G-d.” This means that the borrower's mind has fallen into the, realm of evil and he has become mentally impoverished. To reflect his mental poverty, and point out to the person that his mind is not pointed in the right direction, G-d forces that person to take out a loan and to be beholden to others. His ability and freedom to determine his own destiny and make his out decisions has now been placed in the hands of others. For he had abused his gift of free choice and did not seek out G-d when he had the opportunity to do so. By taking out a loan, this person is forced to make repayment of his debt according to Torah Law. If he decides to do the proper thing and he decides to follow the law of the Torah and pays back his loan, this means he has made the right decision. He has then conformed to Torah Law. This loan has forced this person to subjugate the decision-making ability of his mind to Torah Law. He has finally deferred his mind to make the right choice. His mind is now point in the right direction. His mind has now been rescued from the realm of evil for he has submitted to the will of G-d, by the repayment of his loan.

When it comes about that the borrower tries to default on paying his debt that he legitimately owes to the lender, trying to avoid repayment, this indicates that he has lost his ability to decide between right and wrong. This shows that his mind has fallen to the depths of evil and has become lost an trapped there. Therefore, the only solution for this situation is to be brought to the Beth Din. The Beis Din makes all its decisions based on Torah Law, which is the word of G-d. When the members of the Beis Din force the borrower to pass his debt, that he owes to the lender, they have forcefully restored the borrower's decision making ability, to the right track.  The borrower is therefore forced to conform to Torah Law by his repayment of his loan. The borrower's mind has been rescued by the Beis Din from the realm of evil, where he had lost the ability to make the right choices. By adhering to the decision of the Beis Din, the decision making ability of his mind has been restored to realm of holiness. This little touch of the holy, might be the very thing he needs to start him back on the right track. Just like a person who gets a traffic ticket suffers consequences and penalties, so too the ruling of a Beis Din, makes one realize that he should conform to the laws in the future. It forces him to change his attitude and look at the compliance of the laws in a different way. The idea behind the enforcement of this traffic laws is to try to force traffic safety and save lives. The same thing can be said of the Beth Din, but on a much higher level.

Why is it that the person who was forced to take a loan, due to the flaws in his  decision making ability, was forced to take his loan from this particular person, why not someone else? Any dealings that one person has with another, be they social, business, matrimonial, or religious, are due to each of the parties involved having a spiritual connection with each other.  It is possible that the reason why the borrower has a strong desire not to pay back his loan to the lender, is that this money really belongs to the borrower. This is what is referred to as an old debt. It could be, that in a previous incarnation, the money the lender possesses really belonged to the borrower. This is why the borrower desires to steal this money from the lender. For deep down the borrower's soul knows that this money really belongs to him. The reason the soul desires money is not for physical reasons. All possessions contain the fragments of the soul of its owner. Therefore, for that soul to bring perfection to itself, it must come into the ownership of this particular item or money. This is why the Jews were asked by G-d to despoil Egypt when they left there.

All of the physical desires of-this world are connected to the highest and most lofty spiritual realms at their source. It is only in this world, that the sublime spiritual nature of these items becomes forbidden to us. The reason G-d has made many things forbidden to us in this world (even though these things are connected to the highest spiritual realms) is that the items would be taking something before its time. G-d wants us to refine ourselves by overcoming our desire for an item before we can receive it. This was the nature of Adam's sin. If Adam would have waited and not eaten from the forbidden fruit, before he was ready to handle the knowledge it contained, he would have been given the knowledge he desired when he was ready to handle it.  It was Adam's impatience that caused him to sin, for deep down, he felt that the knowledge the fruit contained was destined to be given to him. This is why he desired to eat from it. The truth is that he was right. G-d did plan to give Adam the knowledge to distinguish between good and evil. However, Adam was not purified enough at that time to be able to handle it. G-d only wanted Adam to wait until he would be ready to receive this information in a safe manner. However, Adam's desire got the better of him and he couldn't wait. This was the factor that caused him to sin. In fact this is the reason why anyone sins. A sinner is a person who has no patience to wait. G-d will grant every person who is worthy, every desire of the heart in the hereafter. All we must do is to have the patience to wait and purify ourselves in this world to be able to receive it in the hereafter. There are many things that we desire that G-d gives us even in this world. However, G-d wants us to wait until the item can be obtained in a permitted way. For example, let us take the need to earn money. It is forbidden by Torah Law to work on the Sabbath. A person who works on the Sabbath shows his impatience and wants his money now. The person doesn't believe that all the income one obtains during the year is determined on Rosh Hashana, the New Year. By working on the Sabbath, he only receives the money he was supposed to get anyway--a little sooner. However, he has acquired this money in a forbidden fashion. He will not receive any extra income during the course of the year as a result of his working on the Sabbath. He has just taken his due before its time, in a forbidden way. This will damage him spiritually and possibility effect the money he will earn in future years. This is why sinners are referred to as "sour grapes" by the prophets. The verse says: "The fathers [who have sinned] have eaten sour grapes [they didn't have the patience to wait to obtain their desires in a permitted way]" (Ezekiel 18:2). This means that the sinners took what was coming to them prematurely, like eating unripe grapes. If they would have waited they would have enjoyed the delicious taste of the ripened grapes.

When a person stands up to temptation in this world, he will merit to receive that very item that he desired, but did not use in a forbidden way. He will be able to enjoy the item in the hereafter for eternity. However, he will enjoy the item on a much higher level than if he would have used it in this world, for he defers his enjoyment of this item in this world, when it is on a low physical level, to enjoy it in the hereafter. He will be given the privilege because of his patience, to enjoy this item in the hereafter on the spiritual level. The enjoyment of a physical item on its spiritual level lasts forever and is infinitely more pleasurable than if he would enjoy it in this physical world. If one doesn't have the patience to wait and enjoys the item in a forbidden fashion, he will lose the privilege to enjoy this item in the hereafter. He has taken an item of eternal pleasure and has placed it in the world of limitation. He will now only enjoy this item for a very short time, only for a brief moment in this world. To restore one's lost privileges, one must repent and return to G-d.

Many people make the mistake and think that if they obey G-d's will and deny themselves the pleasures of this world, that they will, for all time, miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures they truly seek. This attitude is mentioned in the following verse: "Let us eat and drink [of all the pleasures of this world]; for tomorrow we will die" (Isaiah 22:13). G-d isn't very happy with attitude, as shown in the very in the next verse: "And it was revealed in my [Isaiah's) ears by the G-d of Hosts: Surely this (excuse as a reason to] sin shall not be forgiven to you [those people who live by this philosophy] until you die (and suffer in the hereafter, if they don't change their attitude and practices by repenting], said G-d the Eternal of Hosts" (Isaiah 22:14).  They feel convinced that if they take what they desire, now in this world, it will be their only opportunity to enjoy these pleasures. The truth is what we have mentioned above. If a person is patient and waits, he will be able to enjoy all he desires on the much higher spiritual level and for all time.

This is why we are commanded not to charge interest on loans and not to desire the possessions of our fellow man. For if we desire the possessions of others, it is a sign that this item belonged to us in a previous incarnation. However, the Torah warns us not to steal from our fellow man. Even though the reason why we desire to steal an item is due to the fact that the item really belongs to us, we are commanded to have patience and not to obtain what belongs to us in an illegal way. We must believe that G-d has a very good reason for the delay and not giving us what is rightfully ours in our present life. We must have patience and believe that in the end G-d will restore everything that truly belongs to us. Therefore, we should not steal or violate any of the laws that G-d has made forbidden to us. If we have the patience to wait, in the end everything will be given to us, all in its proper time. (Lekutai Halachot: Choshen Mishpat: Hilchot Toain ViNeton 3:1-3)
Concerning what we mentioned above, about having to patiently wait for G-d to give a person what rightfully belongs to him, Rabbi Nachman taught the following: "What rightfully belongs to a person, no one will ever be able to take away from that person, no matter what happens. In the end he will get what rightfully belongs to him. What doesn't rightfully belong to a person, the person will never attain, no matter how hard he works to get it. In the end he won't be able to hold on to it."
Rabbi Nachman taught that the penalty for committing certain types of sins is to fall into debt. One who is punished in this manner is constantly in debt. All the merit in the world can not erase the decree to be punished in this fashion. He could do every possible good, but the decree still stands. He must remain in a constant state of debt. These sins can even cause others to fall into debt. When these types of sin become common, we find that many people throughout the world have fallen into debt.

The remedy for this type of situation is to do repentance for all of one's sins in general. Even though the person doesn't know, which of the sins he committed caused him to be punished in this fashion. One should therefore repent in general and ask G-d to save him from the particular sin that is causing him to be punished with having to fall into debt. (Sichos HaRan 112)

Rabbi Nachman taught: "Only a man trapped and enslaved to his own material possessions, borrows money to do business. A free man does not borrow. He engages in business, using only his own money. It is written: 'You shall love G-d...and with all your might (material possessions]' (Deut. 6:5). This commandment is fulfilled by the man who does not borrow money for his business. This commandment is also fulfilled by one who gives one fifth of his income to charity" (Sichos HaRan 289)

The holy Ari understood the language of birds, animals, palm trees, flames of fire, ministering angels, and he knew how to read palms and people's faces. He was able to look at a person's forehead and see that person's every sin written there. By looking a person's forehead he was also able to know what type of soul that person had, what the person came in the world to rectify, what had ever happened to that person in the past, and what was destined to happen to that person in the future. He was also able to read a person's every thought, since a person's thoughts appear on one's forehead.

Once the Ari saw written on the forehead of a great rabbi, Rabbi Moshe Galanti, that he had committed the sin of doubtful theft. When the Ari informed the Rabbi about this, the Rabbi became extremely upset. He was a very righteous man and was always very careful to avoid any type of sin. The Rabbi was a wealthy man and employed many workers in the clothing factory that he owned. Rabbi Moshe gathered all of his workers  together and asked all of them if he owed any of them any money. All of his workers responded that he owed them nothing. In fact they said that they had all found success since being employed by him and that he was a very generous boss.

Rabbi Moshe insisted and told the workers that the holy Ari had detected that he had not given his workers all their due. He spread out a chest full of money and demanded that whoever wants to take any money from the chest, they could. None of the workers would take any money. They all claimed that he owed them nothing. Then one woman stepped forward and took a few pennies.  When the Ari looked at Rabbi Moshe's forehead again he saw that the sin had been erased. The Ari explained to Rabbi Moshe that the woman who had taken the few pennies was slightly more skilled at her work than the other workers and therefore she deserved a little more in wages than the others. Since you are a very busy man, you never noticed this. In addition the workers were not particular about every penny of their wages, since you are such a nice boss. Rabbi Moshe then kissed the Ari on his head and blessed him in gratitude. He also made a great feast for the Ari and his students. (Stories from the holy Ari)

Volume: 2 Issue: 16

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