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Shabbat Mishpatim Readings and Commentary

Exodus 21:1–24:18; 2 Kings 12:1-17
in addition: for Shabbat Shekalim read Exodus 30:11-16

by Michael Schneider, Jerusalem

Commentary:
After the Ten Commandments were given, the Children of Israel were given the laws of how to practice their everyday lives. Order and precepts were given to a people who were former slaves who had just been delivered.
That’s why, the first of these laws deals with the freedom of a Hebrew slave on the seventh year. Instead of freedom, the slave has a choice to become a servant forever in his master’s household. He does this “because he loves him.” To signify this, his ear was pierced. Another sign on flesh as circumcision. Spiritually speaking, he then dedicated his life to God and will hear only His voice. (Germany Circumcision Ban: Israeli Parliament Slams Decision By Cologne Court.)

Then there were another three basic laws, which actually is a secret to a successful marriage with commands we find in Genesis 2. The three duties of a husband we find although in our reading and are also mentioned at a Jewish marriage. “He may not reduce her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights” (21:10-11).

Punishment for breaking the law also had certain measurements, sometimes he paid with his life, sometimes he paid back five times what he owed and other times he paid double.

Almost every case had a legal covering so that the person “could not take the law in his own hands.”

Having a renewal of the mind, away from the Egyptian ways and thinking was the name of the game. Everyone should read those passages.

Other laws included dealing with immorality, such as extra-marital affairs (22:15), which sadly we find more and more believers falling into this sin. We should take the Word of GOD seriously and make it our guide for life.

Concerning strangers, we need to treat them fairly and justly because “we were also strangers in the land of Egypt” and “we know the heart of a stranger.” If we treat them unjustly, God will hear their cry and act with death on those who abuse the weak (22:20-23)! This is because he also heard our cries when we were strangers in Egypt!

Chapter 23 teaches of the three national feasts, but we first read about the Sabbatical year. This is where in the seventh year one rests from working in his fields.

“You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.” (23:8) – sadly, you can find it more and more in our society!

Interesting, that from a portion of the verse in 23:19 became a whole study on kosher-foods in separating meat and dairy. The original law says, “You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.” Literally it speaks about a young goat boiled in the mother’s milk, which was forbidden because it was an idol ritual of the neigbor nations. Today, Rabbinical law made it much stricter even forbidding chicken meat eaten with milk.

After hearing the new ordinances the people agreed answered Moses and GOD: “Na‘asse ve-nishma – we will do and we will hear!” (24:7) This way of obedience is so strange to the world, it is so godly. A man normally first listen and then (if it suits him) he does!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Insert of the GSI editorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Commentary by Rabbi Chaim Richman, The Temple Institute, Jerusalem:

“All that the L-rd spoke we will do and we will hear.” (Exodus 24:7) The very essence of our relationship with HaShem: We will do even before we fully understand G-d’s word. The secret of Israel.

So, let as live godly and obey Him by doing first what He asks of us and then listening to the whys! – as a good servant.

Shabbat Shalom



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