Mishpatim: Common Sense?

The other night, when the clock struck nine, my wife turned to the kids and said, "You know what that means?  A few of you need to go to bed now."  "No," they replied, "It means that Abba is going to come out and make himself coffee."  Me, working in the office, did not hear any of this, and of course, being nine o'clock, it was time for coffee, so just as they finished saying that sentence, I came out of the office with my mug, and everybody started to laugh, with me not having a clue why.


I guess my schedule is a bit predictable.


A few years ago, the Moshgiach of my yeshiva had to go to a beis din (Jewish court) on behalf of his sister regarding some money that somebody believed she owed her.  The Moshgiach knew that that case was open and closed since its black and white in the Shulchan Oruch, however, the opposing side was convinced otherwise and was convinced that he was a big enough talmid chacham to know better.  So, they went to beis din.  They specifically went to the beis din of Rav Yisroel Fischer, who was one of the most well-known experts in this area of halacha.


As they were sitting waiting for their turn, the other guy kept saying, "This is really a waste of time, the halacha is clearly on my side, but I'm doing this for you to make you happy, etc."  All the while the Moshgiach remained silent.  When they went in, both sides gave their cases, and Rav Fisher turned to the other guy and asked, "So, what do you want?"  When he repeated his case and why he believed he was right, Rav Fisher gave him a look and a sharp rebuke on his knowledge of halacha. He then added, "And don't you even THINK about taking this to court!" (Going to a secular court is forbidden under most circumstances, and it's not a good sign if somebody things you're going to do so.)


The next day, this person saw the Mosghiach and was still aghast, "I spoke to many reliable talmidei chachamim, and they all agree the halacha is on my side, but what can I do?  Rav Fisher might be wrong, but he's still Rav Fisher."  The Moshgaich asked him, "Do you mind if we look at the halacha together?"  So, they opened up a Shulchan Oruch, and there, in plain sight, the case was clearly according to the Moshgiach.  "There must be a different way to learn this!" replied the man.


Choshen Mishpat, financial law, is a very tricky area of halacha and one of the hardest to learn.  Most people, unfortunately, confuse their "common sense" with halacha.  Instead of learning what the Torah says about certain financial aspects, we use our "common sense" to figure it out.


This is why this week's parsha, which is the basis of choshen mishpat, is right after the parsha of the giving of the Torah.  Hashem is telling us, that HALACHA, not our own biased "common sense" is what guides us, even in financial disputes.


This is something that we must be very careful with, both regrading how we act towards others and also how we view others.  Many times people might do things which we think are clearly forbidden, yet in reality are completely allowed.  It's important to always clarify with a competent rav regarding any financial issues that may arise so you know that you're always in the right.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!