Shabbat Parashat Shemini | 5770
Hemdat HaDaf Hayomi: The Mitzvot Given in Marah (41b-42a)Rav Ofer Livnat
Nissan 20-26, Sanhedrin 51-57
This week in the Daf Hayomi, the Gemara (56b) deals with the mitzvoth that Hashem commanded before the giving of the Torah. The Gemara (according to the Braita) states that Am Yisrael were commanded ten mitzvoth in Mara; the seven mitzvoth of Bnei Noach, and Shabbat, Kibbud Av va'Em (respecting one's parents), and Dinim (the legal system). Am Yisrael came to Marah during this time of the year, as according to Chazal, Kri'at Yam Suf occurred on the seventh day of Pesach, and three days later they arrived at Marah. According to Chazal (Baka Kama 82a), the giving of the mitzvoth in Marah is connected to the fact that they went three days without Torah, and it was then instituted that the Torah should be read on Monday, Thursday and Shabbat, so that three days wouldn't pass without Torah learning.
The verse Chazal relied upon when they stated that mitzvoth were given in Marah is (shemot 15, 25) "sham sam lo chok u'mishpat" (there he gave them a law and an order). Rav Yosef Engel (Kuntres Shev Denechemata 5) explains how respecting one's parents, which Chazal listed among the mitzvoth given at Marah, qualifies as “chok u'mishpat”.
Chazal (Yoma 67b) explain that a chok is a mitzvah whose reason is not clear to us, where as a mishpat is a mitzvah that, even if Hashem didn't command us, we would understand by ourselves that it should be done. At first glance, respecting one's parents appears to be a mishpat, as one understands that his parents should be honored for bringing him to this world.
However, Chazal (Eruvin 13b) stated that "it is better for man that he were not created rather than created." If so, one should not thank one's parents for bringing him to this world, as it is preferable to have not been created. However, the Tosafot (ibid d"h noach) state that Chazal spoke of regular people, but for a righteous person it is better that he was born.
Therefore, says Rav Yosef Engel, for a regular person, the commandment to respect one's parents is a chok, as it was better that he not have been born. While for a righteous person, it is a mishpat, since it is good that he was born. Thus, respecting one's parents is both a chok and a mishpat. Rav Yosef Engel concludes that every person should make sure that, for himself, respecting his parents is a mishpat.
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