In Parshat Mishpatim (Sh'mot 21:24-25) the torah tells us that if a man injuries another person he owes compensation: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, and so on (listing several more). It then goes on (21:26-27) to talk about when a man injuries his slave, saying that if he damages the slave's eye or knocks out a tooth he must set the slave free on account of the injury. It singles out eye and tooth but makes no mention of hand, foot, wound, and so on.

Rashi explains why both eye and tooth are needed for the slave case but doesn't talk about other injuries.

Does the injured slave go free on account of a hand or foot too? These, like the eye and tooth, are permanent injuries. What about a wound or burn (which might or might not heal to full function)? If he goes free for any of these too, why does the torah not enumerate all cases like it does in the earlier verse?

Perhaps the eye and tooth are seen as lesser damages than the hand and foot, so if a slave would go free for an eye or tooth then surely he would go free for limbs and so the torah does not need to say so. On the other hand, since the torah could have enumerated all the cases that it intended to cover, maybe it's really only about eyes and teeth. That seems counter-intuitive to me, but I'd like to find something better than my gut feeling for why other damages should result in freedom too.

  • I think that tooth is a very mild dammage and an eye a very severe one. So the both dedine the whole spectrum of limbs whose loss are] patent blemishes and do not return
    – kouty
    Jun 5, 2016 at 19:12
  • Black eyes, broken noses, and broken teeth are the most likely outcome of being hit by fists or rods. It is significantly less likely to suffer a blow to one's head, limbs, or chest so devastating, as to actually crack one's skull, or break one's bones and ribs. The listed examples are simply the most common ones.
    – user18041
    Jun 6, 2019 at 3:45

2 Answers 2


Rambam (based on Kiddushin 25a) writes (Avadim 5:4 (English)):

כיצד בראשי אברים: המכה את עבדו בכוונה, וחיסרו אחד מעשרים וארבעה אברים שאינן חוזרין--יצא לחירות, וצריך גט שיחרור. אם כן למה לא נאמר בתורה אלא "שן" (שמות כא,כז) ו"עין" (שמות כא,כו), לדון מהן: מה שן ועין, מומין שבגלוי ואינן חוזרין--אף כל מום שבגלוי שאינו חוזר, יצא העבד בו לחירות.‏
How is a slave released because of the loss of the tips of his limbs or organs? A person intentionally struck his slave and caused him to lose one of the 24 tips of his limbs or organs that will not regenerate; he is granted his freedom. A bill of release is required. If this applies to the 24 limbs, why does the Torah mention explicitly a tooth and an eye? To extrapolate from them. What characterizes the loss of an eye and a tooth an eye or a tooth? That they are obvious blemishes that will not be regenerated; so too, all obvious blemishes that will not be regenerated cause a slave to be granted his freedom.

See further there for more details of what kinds of wounds are included.

  • כלל ופרט וכלל מום שבגלוי שאינם חוזרים is not in 24b?
    – kouty
    Jun 5, 2016 at 19:01
  • The implication is that one can whip their slave and wound them. As long as there is no irreparable damage it's fine? Jul 8, 2020 at 9:39
  • @ElSh there is no law specifically banning corporal punishment in Judaism, both by a parent and a slave-owner. What's fine and constructive to do depends on the circumstances.
    – Double AA
    Jul 8, 2020 at 11:12

The Tora is interpreted by hermeneutic rules,one of them is Ribuy Umyut.

Here, you have a typical example. See Kiddushin 24b. 13 Midot are not a technical-formal method of lecture, but a way to understand the language of the Torah. Torah pfavors teaching general principles, to give a broad significate by enouncing rules. Chachamim are alway seeking for principles. In the Gemara, you can see how each of the both (tooth and eye) is analyzed in its own properties, in order to take a maximum advantage from each word. examples from Gemara:

  • a part of the body that is not replaceable (not milk tooth),
  • visible blemish.

Because someone objected that the conclusion of Gemara rejected the Ribuy and Myut, I quoted below some statements from the Pne Yehoshua.

.. והוה ליה להקשות כיון דישלחנו ריבויה הוא, מינא ליה למיעוטי מומין שבסתר? אלא על כרחך דהוי ידע שפיר דממעטינן משן ועין מומין שבסתר אלא דקשיא לי מנא לן למיעוטי נמי סופה לחזור? דהא מריבויא דישלחנו איכא לריבויי הכל! וממיעוטא דשן ועין לא שייך למעט אלא מאי דלא דמי לגמרי והיינו מומין שבסתר. ועל זה משני שפיר אם כן שן ועין מאי אהני ליה?! פירוש, כיון דאיכא תרי מיעוטי, אם כן מחדא ממעטינן מומין שבסתר, ואידך למיעוטי סופה לחזור וממנה ממעט נמי שן דחלב. כן נראה לי נכון.

In summary, the Gemara first was thinking that it's a binyan available from 2 ktuvim, next aklal ufrat uklal, and finally Ribuy and Myut.

The chiddush here is that we have a double Myut before the Ribuy. When there is only one Myut, here, there are two Myutin. And each of them excludes one thing from the "riba hakol".

See Yavin Shemua klal 133.

ועוד כלל אחר שכתבו התוספות ז''ל פרק קמא דשבועות דיבור המתחיל רבי עקיבא דמחייב וזה לשונם,
ויש לומר שאפילו מאן דדריש ריבויי ומיעוטי כי איכא תרי מיעוטי מוקמינן חד למיעוטי שטרות וחד למיעוטי קרקעות, כוונתן דאפילו דלמאן דדריש ריבה ומיעט וריבה ריבה הכל ולא מיעט אלא דבר אחד שאינו דומה שאינו דומה היינו כי ליכא אלא מיעוט אחד אבל כי איכא תרי מיעוטי ממעטינן טפי....‏

Now we can understand the Gemara Kiddushin 24b

ריבויא הוא ואי ריבויא הוא אפי' הכהו על ידו וצמתה וסופה לחזור נמי אלמה תניא גהכהו על ידו וצמתה וסופה לחזור אין עבד יוצא בה לחירות א"כ שן ועין מאי אהני ליה

The Gemara says that the law (that extends tooth and eye to organs irreversibly dammaged and that are visible) is deducted by Ribuy. The Gemara objects that if the drasha is Ribuy a replaceable organ or a treatable dammage are included in this law. The Gemara answers by astonishment: So, why is there two Myutin, tooth and eye?! This is not a rejection of the pshat of Ribuy, but a clarification of the rule, as Pne Yehoshua explained.

  • Keep reading in the Gemara. It’s not a כלל ופרט וכלל, and it rejects ריבוי ומיעוט וריבוי as well.
    – DonielF
    Feb 8, 2019 at 6:47
  • @DonielF shkoyech Fixed
    – kouty
    Feb 8, 2019 at 7:29
  • It rejected ריבוי ומיעוט as well. The principle you’re looking for is בנין אב.
    – DonielF
    Feb 8, 2019 at 7:32
  • No, it explains that when we say riba hakol, we have a myut of one thing. See atsmot Yosef on the daf
    – kouty
    Feb 8, 2019 at 7:34
  • @DonielF see edit.
    – kouty
    Feb 8, 2019 at 9:47

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