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image: The Psalm of Davidby Marc Chagall

There’s a whole lotta law going on in Chapter 22 of Exodus, but it leads Daniel and Karl into discussions of King David and the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, the Babylonian Exile and, oh yeah, Exodus.  Join us!  You can listen to the podcast through iTunes or any other fine podcast distributor, or with the player below.  Today’s midrash is at the bottom of this page.

Exodus 22


1 אם במחתרת means when he was breaking in into the house (i. e. in the very act of forcing an entry, but at no other moment).


2 IF THE SUN SHONE UPON HIM — This is only a metaphorical expression signifying: if the fact is clear to you that he is peaceably disposed towards you.


if a man . . . allowed his beast to go forth and feed in another man’s field (22:4)

Goring is not normal behavior for an ox, so the owner pays only half-damages, unless this ox has gored three times in the past, in which case he pays full damages. On the other hand, eating and trampling is common behavior for an ox, which the owner should have anticipated; so for damages thus inflicted, he must pay full compensation.

(Talmud, Bava Kamma 2a ff.)


15 וכי יפתה AND IF A MAN ENTICE [A VIRGIN] — i. e. if he speaks kindly to her until she submits to him. Thus does also the Targum take it: ארי ישדל “if a man persuades”, the root שדל (the Pael conjugation) in Aramaic being the equivalent of פִּתָּה in Hebrew.



מכשפה לא תחיה THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH TO LIVE — This does not mean that you may kill her but she shall be put to death by the court. Both men and women who practise witchcraft are included in this law but in using the feminine term מכשפה Scripture speaks of what is usually the case; for it is women who mostly practise witchcraft (Sanhedrin 67a).


hen you lend money to any of My people (22:24)

Wherever the Torah says the word im (“if” or “when”), the implication is that we are speaking of an action that is optional, except in three instances, where the spoken action is obligatory; this is one of them. (In other words, a person is obligated to lend money to a fellow in need of a loan.)

(Mechilta; Rashi)


Neither shall you eat any meat that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs (22:30)

This is to teach us that G‑d does not deprive any creature of its just reward. Because the dogs did not bark at the Israelites when they came out of Egypt (see Exodus 11:7), G‑d said: Give them their reward.