You know, usually I try to summarize the parasha of the week before going into a story or lesson we can learn based on the week’s parasha. This week’s parasha is so chock-full of mitzvos that I think I would be kidding myself – and our readers – to pretend that I could do it justice in a few paragraphs! So here’s this week’s attempt at a summary!
This week’s parasha teaches us the laws of various mitzvos, commandments, including: having a Jewish slave; “selling” a daughter as a maidservant; murder; killing a slave; penalties for physically hurting another person; death caused by an animal; the existence of a pit on your property; an animal damaging property; stealing animals; self-defense relating to payment for theft.
The Torah goes into the specifics of the laws of someone is a shomer, or guardian, for somebody else’s property, including borrowing. More laws that are discussed include some laws of interpersonal relationships; sensitivity to less fortunate people; interest-free loans. The Jewish judicial system is very just and fair; there are specific laws for how a Jewish court is run.
We learn about the Shabbos, the day or year of rest, of the week and of the land (“shmitah”) and the Three Festivals: Pesach, Shavuos, and Sukkos. Hashem promises a quick journey and then conquering of the Holy Land upon the Jews’ arrival.
After hearing all of the various laws, the reply from the Jewish people is a resounding “Na’aseh v’nishmah!” – “We will do and we will hear!” Moshe, Aharon, Aharon’s sons, and the elders of the nation approach Har Sinai; Moshe Rabbeinu ascends to learn the Torah from Hashem for forty days and nights.
My friend Leah got her first digital camera at the beginning of high school. Just like all of her friends, Leah loved her camera and carefully took care of it. In the spring that year, Leah’s family went on vacation. Somebody borrowed her camera, one thing led to the next, and Leah’s camera was no more. Broken, irreparable… the end.
I remember how devastated I was for her. You know, there are worse things to happen in life, but that’s a big loss for a high school girl! I think my camera was probably my most valuable possession in high school!
I also remember being astounded at the fact that there are specific laws in the Torah pertaining to such an incident. If somebody borrows or uses something that belongs to somebody else and breaks it, he or she might be obligated to pay it back according to halachah/Jewish law! I thought that was amazing.
Parashas Mishpotim is all about different laws that Hashem made for our sake! There are so many specific laws that talk about when Avi’s ox kills one of Chaim’s sheep. Why are all these things included in the Torah? Isn’t the Torah for more important, global things?
Well, guess what! Hashem wrote the Torah, and the Torah is about the things that Hashem cares about… He cares about YOU! If something happened to you, He has instructed other members of the Jewish people to help you out. If somebody, G-d forbid, loses a family member, there are laws about how to treat that person, because Hashem cares about every single member of the Jewish people, because we are His children!
What would you do to help out another Jew in need?
Listening to “Tachshov Tov” sung by Udi Davidi on the album Kumzing! Love it!