Shabbat Shalom to all of my readers!
(I hope that this week’s parsha-post should be a merit for a speedy refuah shleima for Sara Zucker, Dovid Monis ben Yehudis, and Yehonasan Laiv ben Yehudis, and may Hashem heal all the infirm of Klal Yisrael in the merit of Shabbos Kodesh!)
This week’s parsha is Mishpatim, in which the Torah teaches us most of the civil, social, and court laws the Chumash has to offer.
(Along with being the name of the parsha, Mishpatim is also the name for the category of mitzvos the parsha teaches us about– laws, that if Hashem hadn’t given them to us, we would have nevertheless developed by ourselves, since they are necessary for our interpersonal conduct.)
These dinim (laws) may appear to us at first sight as mundane, but they truly couldn’t be more of the opposite! These laws dictate the path of the proper etiquette for a moral civilization, with Torah and G-dliness at its core! Holiness is present in these basic matters of behavior, just as much as it is found in the most esoteric guides for how to cleave to G-d by meditation and study.
The commentators of the Mishna teach us that one who doesn’t respect another’s belongings and boundaries (these are a few categories of laws which are in fact enumerated in the parsha), is as unlearned as a person who doesn’t study Torah, or keep the laws of kashrus!
Chazal tells us, that the close proximity in the Torah, of these laws in Mishpatim, and the great revelation and Matan Torah in last week’s parsha, comes to teach that these social laws were transmitted at Har Sinai, just as the Aseret haDibrot were, and therefore maintain such a great and equating degree of kedusha.
So that is my first bit, corralled from different sources that I was privileged to have learned from this past week.
And now, please allow me to share a fascinating concept, about the Jewish servant:
The second pasuk in this week’s parsha, quite well-know, says:
“Ki tikneh eved ivri shaish shanim ya’avod uvashvi’is yatzai l’chafshi chinam – When you acquire a Hebrew servant, he shall serve for six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment.”
“7” is a very auspicious number in the Jewish tradition. In the 7th year, the eved ivri (Jewish servant) is released from his servitude. To what is this applicable in our everyday lives?
The Ramban clearly answers: Shabbos!
We are freed from our work and worry on the “7th day”, just as the servant is discharged in his 7th year.
Except, we merit this gift every week— what a bracha!
This law of the servant’s welfare is a remembrance of Yetzias Mitzrayim, no less!
Therefore, it connects to the first of the 10 Commandments: “I am the Lord your G-d, who has taken you out of Eretz Mitzrayim, out of the house of bondage.”
The Ramban states ‘both are redeemed’– the Bnei Yisroel out of enslavement, and the exoneration of the servant from his master’s hand.
Another hallowed 7: The 7-year cycle, completed with Shemittah. ‘Freedom’ of the earth, in order for us to acknowledge Hashem as the Sole Owner of it all, and our True Redeemer.
The Ramban has established that all of these ‘principles of 7’, are one concept, since the beginning of the world.
Perhaps the Ramban is mysteriously alluding to the 7 days of Creation, concluding with the first Shabbos?!
“Therefore, this ordinance of the bondsman’s servitude, is so esteemed,” the Ramban continues, “it’s fitting for it to take the lead as the first mitzvah transmitted in Mishpatim!
And may we merit the Ultimate Freedom, speedily in our days!
The Messenger Bird