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Browse Torah Articles: Sefer Devarim: Parashat Vaethanan: Lifnim Meshurat HaDin

Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi

In this week's parasha, we are confronted by an apparent redundancy. We find several admonitions throughout the parasha commanding us to observe the laws taught by Moshe. Then, towards the end of the Parasha, we are told, "And you shall do that which is right and good in the eyes of the L-rd." (Devarim 6:18). What new instruction does this verse add? Why would the Torah, which does not contain any unnecessary material, repeat a warning that has apparently appeared earlier?

Both Rashi and Ramban explain that this verse contains a new, additional command. In their view, doing "right and good" means going above and beyond the letter of the law in serving Hashem and in aiding one's fellow man, This willingness to go beyond the strict requirements is termed "Lifnim Mi'shurat Ha'Din implies a great inner devotion to do what is right and good. The person who does this shows that he acts not only out of a sense of duty, or to gain rewards, but also out of a sincere desire to do Hashem's bidding for its own sake. Rabbi Yohanan maintained that the city of Yerushalayim was destroyed centuries ago because its populace at that time was not sufficiently willing to act Lifnirn Mi'shurat Ha'Din, (Baba Mesiah 36b).

One who insists on contributing only the minimum amount possible for charity, or who gives his parents and teachers only the barest respect, or who spends only a miniscule portion of the day learning Torah may be adhering to the letter of the law, but he could certainly do better. (Ran, Nedarim 5a). On the other hand, those who go out of their way to care for the poor and give of their free time to help a needy friend, are certainly of a very high caliber,

Our sages have provided stirring examples of how one can act Lifnirn Mi'shurat Ha'Din:

The story is told of a man who came to the a Rabbi before Pesah. "Can I use milk instead of wine for the Arba Kosot?" he asked.

The Rabbi did not reply. Instead, he removed five rubles from his own pocket and gave the money to the man

The Rabbi's wife, puzzled but not begrudgingly, asked him, "Would not one ruble have been more than enough money for him to buy wine?"

"Perhaps," said the Rabbi, "But from his question, I understood that he had no money for meat either, for one cannot eat meat and use milk for the Arba Kosot at the same time. I, therefore, gave him enough money to buy both wine and meat for his Pesah meal."

May we strengthen in our understanding of Hashem, and increase our will do per form misvot.

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