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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Positive Mitzvah 196;
Negative Mitzvah 233;
Positive Mitzvot 234, 233;
Negative Mitzvah 261


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Positive Mitzvah 196: Gifts Upon the Release of a Jewish Slave
Deuteronomy 15:14 "You shall give him gifts"

Positive Mitzvah 232 tells us how a Jew can be sold as a slave.

He is sold for a limited period of time and the master pays the money at the time of sale. Therefore, when we release such a slave, one might think there is no need to pay him for his work. After all, the master paid for his service beforehand.

The Torah, however, demands that we be considerate and care for others. When it is time to free a Jewish slave, he must be presented with gifts which will help him begin to live on his own.


Negative Mitzvah 233: It is forbidden to send a Jewish slave away empty handed
Deuteronomy 15:13 "When you send him away free, you shall not let him go away empty-handed"

Does your mother employ a cleaning lady to help her with the housework?

Besides her pay, your mother may give her an occasional present.

She appreciates her help and shows it with a gift.

The Torah describes a particular type of household help.

This is a Jewish slave who serves in his master's home for six years.

He may have been sold into slavery because he stole and could not return the stolen property. Or he may have sold himself in desperation because he was unable to support himself and his family (See positive Mitzvah 196).

The Torah demands that we present him with gifts when he is freed. We are cautioned not to send him away empty-handed.


Positive Mitzvah 233: Marrying a Jewish Maidservant
Exodus 21:8 "If he does not designate her for himself"

The Torah is concerned with the well-being of Jewish daughters who have been sold as maidservants and provides them with an opportunity to be freed from slavery. Her master is urged to marry his maidservant or give her as a wife to his son. In this way, the girl's slavery may prove to be beneficial for her, showing her the guiding hand of HaShem.

Her unfortunate experience of slavery may actually bring about her meeting with her future husband!


Positive Mitzvah 234: Redeeming a Jewish Maidservant
Exodus 21:8 "He must let her be redeemed"

After a person sold his daughter as a slave, his situation may have improved and he can now afford to redeem her. The Torah encourages him to do so and her master is commanded to allow for her redemption.


Negative Mitzvah 261: A master may not resell a Jewish maidservant
Exodus 21:8 "He shall have no power to sell her"

A young Jewish girl who is sold into slavery is called an "Amah Iv'riah".

The Torah instructs her master to treat her with respect and tenderness. He is encouraged to marry her or give her as a bride to his son (see Positive Mitzvah 233).

If the master or his son does not marry her by the end of her service, he is forbidden to sell her as a slave to anyone else and must grant her freedom.


When G-d spoke to Man at Mount Sinai, tradition tells there was no echo. Torah penetrates and is absorbed by all things, because it is their essence. There is no place where it does not apply, no darkness it does not illuminate, nothing it cannot bring alive. Nothing will bounce it back and say, "Torah is too holy to belong here."

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - tzvif@aol.com


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