This week’s parshah is packed with commandments, in this Dvar Torah i will highlight only some of them. This week’s reading starts off relating about the Proper treatment of Jewish and Gentile servants. If a Jewish slave chose to stay with his master after 7 years of servitude, in retribution, the master would take the slave by the doorpost and bore a piercing into the slaves ear (Shemot 21:6), to remind him that he is now a slave to the master and has neglected the opportunity of leaving his status of being a slave, in turn missing the opportunity to serve Hashem instead (Gemara Kiddushin 22b). At the end of the day, Hashem set us free from slavery in Egypt in order that we should keep his commandments! At the end of the Jubilee year, all slaves are then set free and all homes and fields are given back to the original owners.
The Parshah then goes on to relate a husband’s obligations to his wife (Shemot 21:10). All marriages are viewed as a two way relationship, a partnership, between husband and wife. When a couple is at harmony and in a strong relationship with each other, it is considered as if Hashems divine presence is resting upon them. The Talmud has stated that a man must love his wife at least as much as himself but honor her more than himself (Yevamot 62b). Also advantages of a strong loving relationship between a married couple tend to strongly influence the children in the positive.
The parshah relates the penalty if a child curses his/her parents (Shemot 21:17). It is viewed by the Torah a very serious transgression. One has to honour, fear and love ones parents.
The Torah relates to us that there are four types of guards when one has been given another's property; a paid guard, unpaid guard, renter and a borrower. They each have different financial obligations if somthing may have been damaged which was put into their custody (Shemot 22:6/14).
The parshah relates on the laws of Prohibitions against seduction (Shemot 22:15/16); If a man was to seduce a girl below the age of 12 and a half years, if she refuses to marry him, he should pay a penalty to the girl's father along with monetary damage and a fine for the embaressment he may have caused her (Ketubot 39b).
The Parshah then talks about the punishments of commiting witchcraft, bestiality and sacrifices to idols (Shemot 22:17/19). All three of the above transgressions are viewed as an abomination towards Hashem. The Egyptians and Caanaanites were very much steeped into these abominations. The Egyptians were famous for their black magic and witchcraft, as we saw in Parshat Shemot how they changed the blood back to water (Shemot 7:22). In Canaan, bestiality was very much prevalent, in fact it was these sort of sin's that ended up vomiting the Caananites out of the land of Israel. The Jewish Kings were severely guilty of worshiping idols, including, Menashe, Achav and Yeravim Ben Nabot (Sefer Melachim).
The Parshah continues, describing the Three Pilgrimage festivals, taking place through out the year; Pesach, Shavuot and Succot (Shemot 23:14/19). During these festival times, the Jews were to come to the Temple and bring sacrifices, in the Holy City of Jerusalem. The festivals always took place in a most joyous manner, accompanied by singing and the playing of musical instruments, by the Levites (Sukkah 53), it was a truly great festival time. Pesach commemorates the exodus from the land of Egypt, Shavuot commemorates the giving of the Torah and the festival of Succot commemorates the forty years which the Jews spent in the wilderness.
The Parshah also teaches us, if one sees there enemy unloading a donkey whilst in the middle of helping a friend loading a donkey, the person helping his friend should give up what he’s doing and go to his enemy and help him unload his donkey (Shemot 23:5). This is for two reasons, firstly to alleviate the burden upon the donkey with the load on it, as that donkey will be in more pain. Also to cement and improve the person's relationship with his enemy (Bava Mesia 32/33). Many people in life instantly judge others on first appearance or first impressions, which is wrong, one may dislike someone else due to somthing he heard about the other or the way he initially acts, ultimately that individual ‘judging’ the other, should give the person a chance and invest time into him/her and it tends to be, the more one invests or is friendly with another, the more the two would grow to like each other, which in turn, may eliminate the feelings of hatred. One should always try to be the person to initiate a conversation with another and to act in a cheerful manner. In fact, if one sees another they know in the street, and they don’t acknowledge the other person, through a greeting, it is a sign that the person who ignored the other, believes to be to ‘important’ to make an effort, which is a sign of arrogance.
We then learn how G-d promised that He will lead the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, helping them conquer its inhabitants, which occurred at the time when Joshua was the leader. As the Jews, led by Joshua won many wars against various Canaanite kings, many miracles occurred, such as the destruction of the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:20). Hashem then told them that by fulfilling his commandments they will bring blessings to their nation. Many of these blessings are related in Parshat Bechukotai (Vayikra 26:3/13).
The Torah then relates how the people at Mount Sinai promised to do and listen to everything that G-d says (Shemot 24:7). They accepted the Torah whole heartedly, as one nation with one heart, everyone was united together! When the Jews are all united together, it is believed that Hashem's presence rests among them much more. We will see in the Megillat Esther in few weeks time over Purim, that when Esther was about to make a request off her husband, King Achashvairosh, in turn risking her life, she gathered all the Jews to unite together and fast for three days, so to give the Jews a strong merit, for the survival of the nation (Megillat Esther 4:16).
The Parshah then concludes relating how Moshe ascended the mountain to the heavenly realms to remain there for 40 days and 40 nights in order to receive the Two Tablets of the Covenant (Shemot 24:18).
The Natural Haftorah for Parshat Mishpatim comes from the book of Jeremiah, Chapters 33 and 34 respectivly.
This Weeks Dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of Batsheva Bat Tzvi who sadly passed away 2 weeks ago, please pray for her soul and do good deeds in memory of her. Hope you all have a great SHABBAT, SHABBAT SHALOM!