Parashat Mishpatim 2016

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Parasha for the Week: Mishpatim: Exodus 21:1 – 24:18
Haftarah for the Week: Jeremiah 33:25 –34:22
Besorat Yeshua: Mark 14:60 - 72

Overview

Israel 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.
- 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—Pesach, Shavuot and Succot—we are to come to the Temple.
- The Torah concludes this listing of laws with a law of kashrut.
G-d promises that He will lead the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, helping them conquer its inhabitants, and tells them that by fulfilling His commandments they will bring blessings to their nation. The people promise to do and listen to everything that G-d says. Moshe writes the Book of the Covenant, and reads it to the people. Moshe ascends the mountain to remain there for 40 days in order to receive the two Tablets of the Covenant.

"The Entire Torah was Given on Sinai"
Parasha Mishpatim begins with G-d telling Moshe, "And these are the laws which you shall set before them..." Rashi explains that this Parasha begins with the word "and" to teach us that the laws written in this Parasha, as well as the rest of the Torah, are also connected to the previous Parasha in which we read about the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, for the entire Torah and all its mitzvot was given by G-d on Mount Sinai"

"Fulfill the Entire Torah"
One of Maimonides' thirteen principles of Jewish faith is, "I believe with complete faith that the entire Torah which we have now is the same one which was given to Moshe our teacher."
In the end of the Parsha G-d said to Moshe, "Come up to Me to the mountain and be there and I will give you the tablets of stone and the Torah and the Mitzvot (commandments). And Moshe went up to the mountain and Moshe remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights."
Our sages tell us that during the forty days which Moshe spent on Mount Sinai, he received not only the Two Tablets, but he was taught the entire Torah and the mitzvot.

"Our Relationship with G-d and Others"
The 613 mitzvot of the Torah are generally divided in two categories; 1) mitzvot which are between a person and G-d; 2) mitzvot which affect one another. We find these two categories in the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments are between us and G-d. The other mitzvot are between one person and another. However, in truth even the mitzvot between individuals have an affect in our relationship with G-d, while the mitzvot between us and G-d also affect everyone. For every good deed we perform enhances and strengthens our relationship with G-d and with others. The 613 mitzvot fall into several general categories. They can be generalized as positive mitzvot (actions we need to perform) and negative mitzvot (prohibitions we should avoid). We can also place the mitzvot in the three general groups: "Eidut"; "Chukim"; "Mishpatim."
Eidut are "testimonies." These Mitzvot serve as a "sign" between us and G-d. For example, resting on Shabbat reminds us that G-d rested on the seventh day. Passover reminds us of the miracle of the Exodus.
Chukim are Mitzvot which have no apparent logical reason. Examples include the wearing wool and linen in one garment (Shatnez) etc.
Mishpatim are mostly laws of civil justice. These laws fall within the realm of human logic and reason. In fact, many secular societies contain similar laws.

"Loan Without Interest"
One of the 53 laws-mitzvot in this week's Parsha, Mishpatim, is the commandment to help the poor and needy whether through charity or a loan. The Torah states, "When you will lend money to My people, to the poor with you, you shall not press him, neither shall you place upon him interest... for when he will cry to Me, I will hear for I am merciful." The mitzvah of helping people in need is called "Gemilat Chasadim"—"performing deeds of kindness." Gemilat Chasadim, according to our sages, is in a way even greater than charity (Tzedakah). Charity is only for the poor, whereas, the mitzvah of Gemilat Chasadim, helping through a loan, applies to anyone in need.

Haftarah: Jeremiah 33:25 – 34:22
Haftarah: The prophecy given to Jeremiah was when the Babylonians wanted to destroy Jerusalem and to deport its inhabitants: "The word that came to Jer¬emiah from the LORD, when King Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and all his army and all the kingdoms of the earth and all the peoples under his dominion were fighting against Jerusalem and all its cities" (Jeremiah 33:26).
God said to the King of Judah that Babylon will have victory over Israel and the King will be deported too. "Thus says the L-RD, the God of Israel: Go and speak to King Zedekiah of Judah and say to him: Thus says the L-RD: I am going to give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. you yourself shall not escape from his hand, but shall surely be captured and handed over to him" (Jeremiah 34:2-3). However, the L-rd loves his people and will continue to love him, the deportation is a way G-d used to help Israel to understand their mission towards the nations, to be a light to the nations and to help each individual to believe in the only one G-d. Thus before giving the reasons of this defeat, God assured Israel that he will bring them back to their country: Thus says the L-RD: Only if I had not established my covenant with day and night and the ordinances of heaven and earth, would I reject the offspring of Jacob and of my servant David and not choose any of his descendants as rulers over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will re¬store their fortunes, and will have mercy upon them. (Jeremiah 33:25-26)

Besorat Yeshua Mark 14:60 – 72
Besorah: Yeshua is on trial, the Cohen Gadol asks him a crucial question: "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" (Mark 14:61) Yeshua gives an clear and unambiguous answer to the Cohen Gadol: "I am; and 'you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,' and 'coming with the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:62).
Parasha: The Torah states, "You shall not curse a judge, and a ruler among your people you shall not curse." (Exodus 22:27).
Besorah: Yeshua was respectful. He knew what the Torah said and did not want to curse the judge or even to speak badly about him. "Y'shua made no further reply." (Mark 15:5). During his trial Yeshua was that lamb described by the prophet Isaiah some 800 years before. "He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account." (Isaiah 53:3) In our text of the Besorat-Yeshua Peter denied his master saying: "I do not know or understand what you are talking about." (Mark 14:68). The prophet announced also this denial: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, (Isaiah 53:6)

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