This Sabbath is Shabbat Mishpatim, meaning "laws" (Exodus 21 - 24). We read, "And these are the ordinances (laws) that you shall place before them:" And, thus, we begin reading a series of civil and tort law. While some see a distinction between "church and state" the Torah knows of no such distinction. The rabbis tell us that, to the contrary, all areas of life are intertwined and holiness comes from adhering to a set of laws from ritual to dealings with one another. The concept that religion must only take place within the walls of a building does not make a person righteous. What does create a noble life is following not only ritual but the law.
And, so it is in this week's Torah portion which happens to be filled with the most mitzvot (commandments). Here we will learn of 23 positive commandments (You shall...) and 30 negative commandments (You shall not...).
Included are 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.
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).
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.
Candle lighting on Friday evening is at 5:18 and Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 6:21. The days are getting longer!
Mark your calendar: Adas Israel will hold Shabbat Services on Friday the 16th of February at 7:15PM and our Torah Study (Midrash) on Shabbat (Saturday) starting at 10:00AM. All are welcome to attend either our service, our study session or...BOTH!
See you in Shul and have a blessed Shabbat!