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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Re’ei

Labor Parting

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Rav Moshe Yitzchok Weg

August 5, 2021


And when you send him free from you, you shall not send him empty-handed. You shall surely provide him from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your vat; you shall give him from what Hashem, your G-d, has blessed you.

Devarim 15:13-14

According to the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 482), the mitzvah of ha’anakah (to give gifts to a Jewish bondsman when he becomes free) also applies to employees. He explains that this is not an absolute halacha, but we derive from ha’anakah that it is the right thing to do.

The Minchas Chinuch suggests that the Rambam disagrees, because the Rambam limits the mitzvah of ha’anakah to a case of mecharuhu bais din (where the court sold a man into servitude because he stole and could not repay), but in a case of mocheir atzmo (a man who sold himself), the mitzvah does not apply. If so, it should not apply to an employee either.

The Steipler (Kehilos Yaakov, Kidushin 23) explains that according to the Rambam, ha’anakah is related to the mitzvah of tzei (verbally declaring to the eved ivri that he should leave), cited by the Rambam in Hilchos Avadim 2:12, where he writes that the mitzvah of tzei is incumbent upon whoever frees the eved. Therefore, the Steipler says that if the master dies, his heirs are subject to the mitzvos of tzei and ha’anakah. It thus seems that according to the Steipler, ha’anakah is about sending out an eved ivri in the right way. If so, it would not apply to an employee, who is neither owned by his boss nor sent away when his work is done.

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