When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Mishpatim (מִּשְׁפָּטִים), the 18th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. According to Wikipedia, Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 through 24.18) contains 5,313 Hebrew letters, 1,462 words and 118 verses and 185 lines in the Torah scroll.
Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Mishpatim (מִּשְׁפָּטִים) for Shabbat, February 10, 2024 aka 1 Adar 5784:
“Today is Rosh Chodesh Adar I which is the beginning of the extra “leap month” that is added to the Jewish Lunar calendar to align it with the Gregorian calendar. We read the Sedra Mishpatim which begins with the conjunction “and”, to show its intimate connection to the preceding Sedra that contained the Ten Commandments. Just as the extra month is closely connected to those which came before and those which will occur after, so are the words of this Sedra connected in every way to the idea of 613 Mitzvot. It is impossible to separate Jewish law and say that each is separate from the whole because the guidelines of criminal law are connected to civil law.
The laws contained in Mishpatim are a strong reminder that the Torah is not only a historical description of the early history of our people and our connection to the Land of Israel, but also, a set of guidelines for a just and compassionate society under the rule of law. No other society before had been given such a template to establish a classless society and even though the Torah recognizes the inherent possibility of success and financial hardship, it set up a system which, if followed, provides for the needs of the less fortunate while never taking away their equal status in society. Many philosophies of governing have been created since the Torah, but none, have been as successful in establishing a just and righteous society based on belief in one G-d and the shared responsibility to care for those less fortunate or unable to care for themselves. Mishpatim establishes a safety net by which the rights and responsibilities of all citizens are respected and treated with dignity. We should take pride that G-d has chosen us from among all peoples to share this message with the world and always try to live up to its attainable standards.”
Questions to Consider:
- Why is so much of the Talmud based on the description of the fulfillment of the Tort laws contained in Mishpatim?
- Why is the monetary punishment given for an ox that is killed more than for a sheep?
- How do we know that the Torah frowns upon permanent servitude?
- How do we know by the location of the laws of “eye for an eye” etc. that the Torah is referring to monetary damages?
Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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