This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Mishpatim is being sponsored by Baruch and Yaffa Swinkin and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated lilui nishmas for Baruch’s grandfather Micha’el ben Yaakov. To the Swinkin family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.
Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, while discussing Parshat Yithro in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” (pages 163-164), provides a personal experience which seems to this author to express the spirit of our Parshat Mishpatim:
Many years ago, I [Rabbi Goldin] was involved in the construction of the community eruv (a legal concept represented by a boundary that allows members of a community to carry items outside their homes on Shabbos). In those days, such construction consisted principally of attaching stakes of wood to the bottom of utility poles in such a way that if the top of the stake continued upwards in an imaginary straight line, the line would intersect with a specific horizontal wire at the top of the pole.
…The problem is, however, that utility poles are rarely straight. The imaginary lines, therefore, ended up in the middle of the pole (if the pole was leaning outward) or in outer space (if the pole was leaning inward). Great care, therefore, had to be exercised concerning the proper adjustment and placement of those wooden stakes.
One day, as I worked “in the field” together with one of my congregants, we encountered a particularly problematic pole on which we focused for about an hour. …After I felt satisfied with my efforts, my congregant turned to me and said: “Rabbi… do you really think Hashem cares whether or not that piece of wood is an inch this way or an inch that way? Do you really think Hashem cares to the point that you spent so much of your precious time on this specific pole?”
For a few moments, I was speechless. My congregant , after all, did have a point…. Didn’t Hashem have more important things to be worried about?
After a moment, however, I answered with an automatic response that has become a critical guidepost in the formation of my [Rabbi Goldin’s] outlook on halacha.
“I don’t believe that Hashem cares,” I replied, “I believe that Hashem cares that we care.”
Hashem wants the process of halacha to be woven into the daily actions of our lives. He wants us to care about Halacha as deeply as — no, more deeply than we care about so many transient concerns that continually occupy our attention.
The scholars determine[d] that we must exactingly adjust and place a wooden stake at the bottom of a utility pole in order to create a kosher eruv. We should care enough about halachic process to spend whatever time is necessary to carry out that mandate.
Loyalty to the process, shown by allegiance to detail, demonstrates that we care; that we recognize the precious nature of Torah law; and that, whatever the necessary effort, we truly desire to make that law part of our lives.
This caring exactness and meticulousness to detail with which Rabbi Goldin placed a wooden eruv stake at the bottom of a leaning utility pole serves to typify our Parshat Mishpatim in such areas as the definition of, or strict regulations regarding, treatment of an Eved Iv’ri (Hebrew Servant) or an Eved Cana’ani (Cana’anite Slave), Halacha determining liability and monetary damages resulting from cases of personal injury, distancing oneself from falsehood in judicial proceedings, determining between “truth” and “peace” in everyday interpersonal relations and more.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — which can only occur when he is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five and a half years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.