Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Going Beyond the Letter of the Law

Part I

    “And you will do that which is right and good in the eyes of Hashem so that He will do good to you and you will come and inherit the land which Hashem promised to give to your forefathers[1].”

The commentaries write that this passuk, that appears towards the end of the Parsha, is the source for the principle of ‘going beyond the letter of the law[2]. ” This teaches us of the necessity to avoid being medakdek (exacting) in matters of law and to be mevater (forgiving) what is rightfully ours in certain situations. Examples of this are; when a person finds a lost object that halachically he is allowed to keep, but he knows the identity of the original owner - Chazal tell us that even though it is technically permitted to keep the object, he should nonetheless give it back[3] . Another example is when a piece of property is for sale - the prospective buyers should give precedence to the person who lives next to that property because he stands to gain the most by buying this particular property[4] . In truth, however, there are numerous instances when one should go beyond the letter of the law - the Ramban writes that the Torah did not want to explicitly state them all, rather we should learn from this passuk that we must constantly strive to treat people in an understanding fashion and avoid always treating them according to the strict letter of the law[5] . The Gemara tells us that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because people were makpid on each other and treated them according to the strict letter of the law[6] . In the coming weeks we will discuss why this seemingly innocuous transgression was viewed by the Rabbis in such a serious manner.


1. Va’eschanan, 6:18.

2. See Rashi and Ramban.

3. Bava Metsia, 30b.

4. Bava Metsia, 108a. This is known as, ‘Din d’bar metsra.’

5. Ramban, Va’eschanan, ibid.

6. Bava Metsia, 30b.


 

Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org

Visit Rabbi Gefen's new blog at rabbiygefen.blogspot.com.

Rabbi Gefen's new book, The Guiding Light, is now available! To order, please contact Rabbi Gefen at Gefen123@smile.net.il or 00972 52 761 9935.


 

ARTICLES ON BALAK AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

A Question Brings Hope
Shlomo Katz - 5765

If It Can Happen To Bilaam, It Can Happen to Any of Us
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

The Best Things In Life Are Different When They Come For Free
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Building With Failure
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Our Father, Our Light
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

A Fool
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

> Ph.D. in Morals
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Money Order - Getting Our Priorities Straight
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

One Heart
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

ArtScroll

The Nine Days of Mourning
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

The Apter Rebbe Bends The Rules For Ahavas Yisrael
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5768

The Darkest Corner
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Red Heifer and the Death of the Righteous
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Mistaking The Angel of Mercy For The Satan
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

A Never Ending Story
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5762

Only A True Magician Succeeds
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information