Paying and Piercing – Makkos Daled


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The Mishna stated: “We testify that this particular person owes his fellow two hundred zuz,” and they are found to be zomemin, they receive lashes and must pay, for the Scriptural verse that makes him liable for the lashes is not the same as that which makes him liable for compensation; these are the words of Rabbi Meir. But the Chachamim say: Whoever is liable to pay does not receive lashes.

Based upon this, the Panim Yafos answers the following question: The Gemora in Kiddushin states: Why was an ear chosen (to be pierced – when a Jewish servant wishes to stay by his master even after the six years) more than other limbs of a person’s body? Hashem says that the ear that heard on Mount Sinai, “For to Me Bnei Yisroel are servants,” and not servants to servants, and he went anyway and chose a master for himself, his ear should be pierced. The question begs to be asked: If the piercing is because of his stealing, why don’t we pierce his ear immediately? Why do we wait until he wants to stay longer?

Our Gemora states that whoever is liable to pay does not receive lashes. If one is liable a punishment of lashes and money for one action, he does not receive lashes and pay, but rather, he pays and he does not incur the lashes.

Accordingly, we can say that the thief was deserving of getting his ear pierced immediately – except, since he is required to pay for that which he stole, and selling him as a servant is instead of his payment, he is therefore exempt from the piercing, for he cannot pay and receive “lashes.” However, after he served his six years, and he says, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I do not want to go free,” he is revealing to us that his serving as a servant was not a punishment for him. Retroactively, he reverts to the halachah that he should be punished for selling himself as a servant through piercing.