For the week ending 29 January 2022 / 27 Shvat 5782

Parashat Mishpatim

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
Become a Supporter Library Library


The Jewish People receive a series of laws concerning social justice. Topics include: Proper treatment of Jewish servants; a husband's obligations to his wife; penalties for hitting people and for cursing parents, judges, and leaders; financial responsibilities for damaging people or their property, either by oneself or by one's animate or inanimate property, or by pitfalls that one created; payments for theft; not returning an object that one accepted responsibility to guard; the right to self-defense of a person being robbed.

Other topics include: Prohibitions against seduction; witchcraft, bestiality and sacrifices to idols. The Torah warns us to treat the convert, widow and orphan with dignity, and to avoid lying. Usury is forbidden and the rights over collateral are limited. Payment of obligations to the Temple should not be delayed, and the Jewish People must be Holy, even concerning food. The Torah teaches the proper conduct for judges in court proceedings. The commandments of Shabbat and the Sabbatical year are outlined. Three times a year — for Pesach, Shavuot and Succot — we are to come to the Temple. The Torah concludes this listing of laws with a law of kashrut to not cook or mix meat and milk.


It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over

“Everything that Hashem has said — we will do and we will obey.” (19:8)

The “Sunday Dollars” are a well-known piece of Jewish folklore. The Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l used to give out thousands of dollar bills to those who came to meet him on Sundays. Once, a young boy and his father came to get a dollar bill from the Rebbe. The Rebbe placed a crisp dollar bill into the hands of the father and then the son. As they were walking away, the Rebbe called them back and asked the young boy if he liked sports. “Sure!” said the young boy. The Rebbe asked him which sport he liked. “Baseball,” was the reply. The Rebbe asked him what team he followed and the boy said, “The Dodgers.” The Rebbe asked him when the last time he saw his team was. “Oh, it was about a month ago, but we didn’t stay to the end. It was the bottom of ninth, with two outs, and the pitcher was up to bat. We were seven runs behind. The pitcher is a weak hitter and it was clear what would happen, so we left and went home. “And what did the players do?” inquired the Rebbe. “Well, I guess they played on till the end of the game.” “They didn’t leave?” asked the Rebbe. “No, well, they couldn’t leave, they are the players. I’m just a supporter.” The Rebbe said, “A Jew always has to be a player, not a supporter.”

You can go through life in two ways: You can be a supporter, and when things aren’t much fun you can quit, or you can go through life as a player and never give up until it’s over, because “Everything Hashem has said, we will do and we will obey.”

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