Parsha Mitzvot-Mishpatim-Mitzvah 44 – Concept 511
“If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master, who should have designated her for himself, he shall assist her in her redemption.” (Exodus 21:8) A master is obligated to redeem his Jewish maidservant. (Rambam, Hilchot Avadim – The Laws of Slaves)
The Talmud uses an interesting word to describe the calculation of her worth: “migare’et,” which means to lessen. This indicates that when the master calculates her worth by the price he paid compared to the years she worked, he is lessening her value. He is measuring her worth by what she was “worth” when she was younger, without considering how she becomes a more valuable person as she grows and matures.
We often treat people based on first or early impressions and we do not consider how they have grown and developed as human beings. When we so do, we lessen them in our eyes and may influence the way they perceive themselves.
This Mitzvah is describing a young woman who felt rejected by her father and now again, by her master, who had refused the opportunity to marry her. A person who has been hurt in such a manner is even more susceptible to the impressions of others. The Torah is reminding us to beware of hurting the vulnerable by treating them as less than they are.