Hands Down – Parashat Shemot

January 1, 2018 at 12:20 AM , ,

“….He went out on the second day, and behold, two hebrew men were quarreling. he said to the wicked one, “why will you strike your friend?…” – Shemot 2:13

״….ויצא ביוםהשני והנה שני אנשים עברים נצים ויאמר לרשע למה תכה רעך….״ – ב,יג

Moshe reprimanded the quarrelers even before their fight came to actual blows, as indicated by the future tense of his plea, “why will you strike your friend.” Implied is that the one whom Moshe rebuked stood poised to hit his friend, but had not yet actually done so.

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 58b) points out that although the man had merely lifted his hand to strike his fellow, yet the Torah already refers to him as “the wicked one.” Thus, the Rambam (Chovel u’Mazik 5:2) rules, “It is even forbidden to raise up one’s hand against a colleague. Whoever raises a hand against a colleague, even though he does not hit him, is considered a wicked person.”

Hands Down

The Rambam’s words indicate that lifting one’s hand against a colleague is condemned not only for the future harm it may cause. It is forbidden because it is in and of itself a wicked act and gives expression to a contemptible character trait.

Support for the Rambam’s view can be found in the idea that every aspect of human existence was created to enable man to serve G-d, each limb in the human body corresponding to another mitzvah (see Sefer Chareidim.) Particularly, the hand is emblematic of the mitzvos associated with giving to others. (In a more general sense, almost all positive mitzvos require a physical action involving the hand.) Therefore, to use or even raise one’s hands in a manner associated with causing harm and strife is forbidden and considered wicked even if one doesn’t actually strike his friend. For the motion itself defies the hand’s G-dly ordained purpose – to perform acts of giving and loving-kindness.

—Likkutei Sichos vol. 31, pp. 1-6


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