The bnei Yisroel had just experienced the amazing and awe inspiring Matan Torah at Har Sinai. Immediately following that is parshas Mishpatim, in which we learn about an eved ivri. It would appear that there is a specific reason as to why this was the first mitzvah listed. Additionally, if you look into the haftorah which in sefer Yirmiyahu, the navi was relating to klal Yisroel a message from Hashem, which was: ‘On the day that you left mitzrayim I instructed you with these halachos.’ It seems that these halachos that we are discussing in the parsha were already discussed on the day they left Mitzrayim. What’s more is that Meshech Chochma states that while bnei Yisroel where in Mitzrayim these halachos were being taught. If so, what is the significance of it being said again and being the first halacha right after Har Sinai.
I heard a p’shat in the name of R’ Mordechai Druk, Zt’l.
There was a simple Yid, a tailor by profession, who barely made ends meet. Late one night there was a knock at his door and when he opened it he found a breathless man standing there and pleading to let him in. He whispers to this Yid that he was the king and that there were renegades trying to kill him. ‘Please let me in,’ he begged. Hesitant, this Yid finally allowed him in and quickly took him to his small dirty workshop and hid him underneath a huge pile of clothing.
Shortly afterwards there is banging at his door and hooligans entered. They stroll in and start searching for the king. One of them walked into the workshop and spotted the pile of clothing. He started to unravel the pile when this unpleasant smell suddenly overtook him; it became unbearable. He said aloud, ‘anyone that may be hiding here is unlikely to be alive due to the disgusting stench.’ With that, he stabs the pile a few times with his sword and they all depart. When it seemed safe enough, the king emerges from his hiding place out and proclaims his appreciation to this Yid and his thanks for taking him in and ultimately saving his life. ‘As soon as things calm down I will repay you,’ said the king.
Sometime later, when order was restored to the area, the tailor is summoned to the castle to meet with the king. Realizing he has not much in common with the king at all, he began to try to make some small talk. He began by asking the king what it felt like when they were beginning to unravel the pile of clothing he was hiding under and what was going through his mind at that time. The king became enraged and shouted, ‘you shameless Jew!’ How dare you remind me of such trying times! Guards take him away and prepare him for his death.’ The tailor is stunned; all he was trying to do was have a conversation with the king.
The next day the tailor arrived at the town square to be hanged. He looked up and saw the noose and he couldn’t believe what was about to happen to him. The executioner receives the approval to proceed and he blindfolds the tailor. He was about to kick away the stool when suddenly the king walked over to the trembling tailor and whispered in his ear: ‘this, is how it felt. I couldn’t just explain it to you; you had to be there to truly understand.’
Bnei Yisroel had just left Mitzrayim after being slaves for two hundred and ten years. Hashem was telling them you were just there and experienced what it meant to be a slave. Hashem wanted them to be as close to that situation as they can get, so they can truly relate to these halachos and that they wouldn’t forget what it was like.
When our brothers are experiencing pain and going through difficult times we have the ability to comfort them. But from those who have gone through specific challenging times, their chizuk to others is on a higher level as they can relate to them better. They were able to survive and grow from it.
Unfortunately we constantly hear of tzoras; day in day out. But what do we do to help? By lending a hand-or even an open ear-to others who are experiencing something similar we will ultimately be zoche to bring the geula, which should be speedily in our days. May we know of no more tzoras.
HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS