Thank you for finding Adas Israel the Jewish Congregation of Mason City, Iowa. While we won't have services this week we can offer you a way to study this week's Torah Portion - Mishpatim (Ex. 21:1 - 24:1). Let's get started!
The parsha (portion) is called Mishpatim because of the first descriptive word in the opening sentence (Ex. 21:1), "And these are the
ordinances (mishpatim or laws) that you (Moses) shall place before them." It should come as no surprise then that this is the most commandment rich Torah portion of the Bible with 23 positive (you shall) and 30 negative (you shall not) commandments in the three chapters we read this week.
Included here are laws regarding: the Hebrew manservant and maidservant, manslaughter, murder, injuring a parent, kidnapping, cursing a parent, personal injury, penalty for killing a slave, personal damages, injury to slaves, categories of damages and compensatory restitution, culpability for personal property damage, seduction, occult practices, idolatry, oppression of widows, children and orphans.
But wait...there's MORE!
The portion continues with the laws of lending money, not cursing judges or leaders, tithes, first-born sons, justice, returning strayed animals, assisting the unloading of an animal fallen under its load, Sabbatical year, Shabbat, the Three Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot & Succot). WHEW!
But, we're not done yet!
Mishpatim concludes with the promise from the Almighty to lead us into the land of Israel, safeguard our journey, ensure the demise of our enemies and guarantee our safety in the land -- if we uphold the Torah and do the mitzvot. Moses makes preparations for himself and for the people and then ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.
As you can see, from that final section of the Bible this week...the "deal" is conditional on our effort to uphold the laws of the Torah and actually DO the commandments (mitzvot). As we've so often pointed out, while there are 613 Commandments not all of them relate to each of us. Some are only for people living in Israel. Some are only for those who are married. Some are only for those who have employees.
Finally you should know that actually DOING the commandments that G-d has given us isn't as hard as it would seem but it does take discipline and perhaps...just perhaps...that is the entire point of the Law. It gives us a road map for...life!
Have a wonderful and meaningful Shabbat!