Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Quick Vort
Parshas Mishpatim: Rav Elyashiv - Justice The Sinai Way
Rashi says the reason why the Torah write "V'Eileh HaMishpatim", and these are the laws (Mishpatim 21:1) is to teach us that our system of laws is based on Sinai and these laws are a continuation of the Aseres HaDibros. Rav Elyashiv (Dvrei Aggadah) asks, "What else would we think?  Of course, the entire Torah came from Sinai?"

He answers that every society has laws, for without the rule of law there would be chaos. But those laws are not all the same. For example, Sidom also had laws, as we see in the Medrash, Eliezer was taken to the Sidom court. Even ants have laws. The pasuk says that one ant dare not steal from another, but from humans they are happy to steal.

The Torah laws come from Sinai and they look different than any other laws with vastly different results. "Midvar Sheker Tirchok", not to lie says the Gemara means that if two people come before the judges and one is dressed in expensive clothing and the other one in cheaper clothing we make them both wear the same type of clothing so as not to subconciously favor one over the other. That is Torah truth.

Which laws are more effective? In contemporary law someone can be guilty of stealing with only one witness or even no witnesses. His punishment is to sit in a horrible jail with terrible people. Despite these wretched consequences the jails are full of thieves and it doesn't seem to deter many would- be-thieves. The Torah laws are a bit different. A thief needs to be seen by two people and none of them relatives. His punishment is simply to pay double. If he can't afford he is sold as a slave, but what kind of slave? One who the owner must treat the same way he treats himself and cannot overwork him. He must also support the thief's family. Under these conditions it actually sounds pretty okay to get caught. Yet, we see that Bais Din rarely ended up punishing people and hardly ever gave the death penalty. Why is this so? Because our laws come from Sinai.

What does that mean? The luchos came in two tablets. The first side said, "Anochi Hashem..." The second side said, "Don't steal, murde.." etc. When the rules come from Sinai, from the Anochi, from emunah, those laws are kept better than the threat of severe punishment.