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Daily Mitzvah

Positive Commandment 232; Negative Commandment 258, 259, 257, 260

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Positive Commandment 232 (Digest)
The Jewish Bondsman

"If you acquire a bondsman"Exodus 21:2.

We are commanded [to follow the rules outlined in the Torah] regarding the Jewish bondsman.

Negative Commandment 258 (Digest)
Selling a Jewish Bondsman in a Slavemarket

"They shall not be sold as slaves"Leviticus 25:42.

It is forbidden to sell a Jewish bondsman as slaves are sold—on the auction block at a slavemarket. Rather, his services must be sold discreetly, in a respectful manner.

(This prohibition also includes kidnapping and selling, which is a capital offense.)

Negative Commandment 259 (Digest)
Ordering a Jewish Bondsman to do Unnecessary Work

"You shall not work him with rigor"Leviticus 25:43.

It is forbidden to instruct a Jewish bondsman to perform a work that has no purpose. Even to order him to heat up a glass of water, if it isn't needed, is forbidden.

Negative Commandment 257 (Digest)
Denigrating Treatment of a Jewish Bondsman

"You shall not work him as a slave"Leviticus 25:39.

It is forbidden to order a Jewish bondsman to perform humiliating labors that are typically performed by slaves. Rather, he may be given only such jobs that an employed worker would agree to do.

Negative Commandment 260 (Digest)
Allowing a Gentile Master to Order a Jewish Bondsman to do Unnecessary Work

"He shall not rule over him with rigor in your sight"Leviticus 25:53.

We may not allow a non-Jew who lives under Jewish jurisdiction to order a Jewish bondsman in his service to do unnecessary work while we watch. We may not say, "Since this Jew willingly allowed himself to be sold to this gentile, it is not our concern what the gentile compels him to do," rather we must still prevent the gentile from overtly mistreating his Jewish worker. (We are not, however, required to inquire as to what occurs in the privacy of his home, where we cannot see what transpires.)


Translation of (the unabridged text of) Sefer Hamitzvot by Rabbi Berel Bell, member of the Rabbinical Court of Montreal and director of Teacher Training for the Jewish Learning Institute.

From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
Daily Quote
When so commanded by G‑d, refraining from doing a mitzvah is no less a mitzvah than doing a mitzvah
  –Alshich
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