Weekly Reading Insights: Mishpatim 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Mishpatim

Shabbat Mevarchim

To be read on 26 Shvat 5765 (Feb.5)

Torah: Exodus 21:1-24:18; Haftorah: Jeremiah 34:8-22 and 33:25,26

Mishpatim is the 6th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 18th overall, and 31st out of 54 in overall length.

First, a long series of Jewish laws which include the following topics: Jewish slaves, manslaughter, murder, injuring or cursing a parent, kidnapping, causing injury, a homicidal ox, damage caused by a pit in the ground, damage caused by goring, grazing, or fire, penalties for stealing, custodians of articles, borrowing items, seduction of an unmarried woman, occult practices, idolatry, oppression of others, lending money, respecting judicial and other authorities, dedicating to G-d first fruits and first born animals and children, flesh of an animal killed by a predator, judicial honesty and sincerity, strayed and fallen animals, bribery, the Sabbatical year, Shabbat and some holidays, and milk and meat. G-d promised to send an angel to protect the Jews in the desert and when they conquer the Land of Israel. G-d warned the Jews to destroy the nations' idolatry and not to make peace treaties with them. He promised to give the Jews food and water, and abolish the Jews' enemies, sickness, miscarriage, and infertility. G-d made a covenant with the Jews who declared 'we will do and we will understand". Moshe ascended the mountain where he was to remain for forty days and nights and to receive the tablets.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:18-65/Mishpatim)

Now if the soul is from the side of spiritual force known as "the Hebrew Slave" - the angel Metatron - [as it serves the sefira of malchut of Atzilut] which includes six sides, then "... six years he shall serve" - it is given six lifetimes to rectify itself.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:18-65/Mishpatim)

Let us discuss the laws of the four principle categories of damage: the Ox, the Pit, the Destroyer, and the Fire. These four are the four levels of evil [kelipot]. They correspond to the four holy fathers [of the Jewish people]: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

* * * * *

From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:18-65/Mishpatim)

We need to appreciate also that there is another reason why such mixtures are forbidden, and that is because the power of the mixture is strong enough to neutralize, at least temporarily, the celestial agents directing and supervising their "charge" of each separate respective species which now have been combined.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"If a man digs a pit... the owner of the pit shall make it good, and return money (kesef) to the owner." (21:34)

Every person "digs a pit" with his sins into which other people fall and get hurt. The way to correct this situation and "make it good" is by "returning kesef (related to the word kisuf - longing and yearning) to the owner" - with a sincere desire to return to the "Owner" of the world in repentance.

(Likutei Sefat Emet)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

MOSHIACH THIS WEEK (M:18-65/Mishpatim)

"Six years he will work, and in the seventh he will go out free." [Ex 21:2]

"Six years" is an allusion to the six thousand years of the existence of the world. "He will work" during this time to keep Torah and Mitzvot. "And in the seventh" - the seventh millenium corresponding to the seventh year - "he will go out free"- that is when we will be released from all the distractions and the concealment of the Divine light, and we will merit the highest revelations of the time to come.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:18-65/Mishpatim)

During Ascent's first year, at the beginning of the month of Shvat, just over 21 years ago, I wrote to the Rebbe describing what we were doing. I asked for blessings and instructions for myself and Ascent's two other founders, Yerachmiel Tilles and Moshe Wisnefsky, for our efforts to spread Judaism in Safed. The answer we received, dated Chai Shvat (Chai=18="life" of Shvat), contained, besides the blessing and clear instructions to do things with joy and enthusiasm, (and to stay put in Safed), a reference to a verse in Parshas Mishpatim. In my letter, I had written that we were very careful to do more than just give classes. We tried as much as possible to have our students do Jewish things, to be actively involved in performing mitzvos. The Rebbe responded, "And with a point connected to the times, that this letter is being written the day after Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Yisro (i.e. the first day of the portion of Mishpatim), whose main point is Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, a living Torah from a living G-d, that was received with one mouth by all of the Jewish people with the enthusiastic cry, (Mishpatim 23/7) "we will do and then we will hear!". Special emphasis was placed on the prefacing of "we will do" to the "and we will hear". And behold, all of the souls of all of the generations were there and participated in this call.

What is the meaning of the expression, "we will do and then we will hear"?

The most accepted way to understand the above is according to the way the Talmud presents it, (Shabbos 88a) emphasizing that "doing" the Torah before "hearing" the explanations was a praiseworthy expression of the Jewish people's powerful faith in G-d, making them akin to an angel, for whom there is no difference if it hears or does a commandment first, since the angels whole essence is to connect to G-d.

A story about the Rebbe Rashab illustrates this. Once, a Chassid promised him that as soon as he gets well, he would give a lot of money for tzedaka. The Rebbe answered him that he should give the tzedaka immediately, because it was more pleasing in the eyes of
G-d to be a baal chov (in debt) to him, than for him to be a baal chov to G-d. The Rebbe was exhorting his Chassid to practice "first do, and then hear".

Nevertheless, it always stood out to me that the Rebbe had not really directly responded to the point in my letter. We encouraged the "Ascenters" to do mitzvos because it was more interesting (and effective) being involved in Jewish lifestyle for the "20 somethings" we were dealing with, then to hear classes on "why they should believe in G-d", (which was the standard at the time). In fact, especially for beginners, it always seemed important to very clearly explain everything, and in depth, otherwise they would reject it as some superstitious nonsense.

This perspective can be presented from another story, about the Kotzker Rebbe, from the book Ohel Torah. Once on Friday evening after Kiddush, the Rebbe sat on his chair, and his features began to change, as though he was slipping totally away from the physical. With all of his strength, forcing himself to do a physical action, he stretched out his hands and washed them. Immediately after making the blessing on the bread and eating something, he said the following, "The world has wise men, and researchers and philosophers. All of them are researching and thinking into knowing G-d, but how much can they grasp? Certainly not any more than their level and their intellect. But the Jewish people have a certain instrument, a vehicle, that is DOING THE COMMANDMENTS, and with this tool, they are able to grasp much more than their own levels, until they can reach the level of angels! This is the true meaning of the words, "we will do and then we will hear". As long as we begin with doing the commandments, the Torah is telling us that we will come to understand the true power of it, on higher and higher levels!"

Explaining Torah is not a contradiction to the Torah statement, "first we will do and then we will hear". The most important detail is to do, regardless of whatever it takes to get you there. Once you do it, the Torah is telling us, "Don't worry! You will understand, and not just on your level, but much higher. If you want to reach the real levels that you are capable of reaching, all you need is to do the commandments!"


Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here)

For all our insights for this parsha:

from last year

from two years ago

from three years ago

Back to Top


Redesign and implementation - By WEB-ACTION