Perashat Mishpatim 5778
Perashat Mishpatim 5778Friday, February 09, 2018
In last week's perasha we read about the revelation at the base of Har Sinai where the Jewish nation was elevated to the highest levels of prophetic insight. It's logical to assume that the Torah would continue in this week's perasha by pronouncing Halakhot, laws, that maintain this spiritual and transcendental theme, laws such as the requirement to pray, don Tefillin, or keep Shabbat. So why does Hashem instead proceed to communicate to Moshe the civil laws and laws of interpersonal relationships?
These laws are at the very core of Judaism. Judaism's view on interpersonal relationships does not stem from prevailing customs alone. Social attitudes constantly evolve according to the nature of the society or its circumstances. In contrast, the Halakhot of Ben Adam LeHabero (between man and his fellow man) express the Divine moral code that is eternal and forever binding.
The missvot that are between man and God, and the missvot between man and man are intertwined. The integration of these two types of missvot brings a person closer to the fulfillment of his destiny in this world.
The Gemara speaks of a nonbeliever who wanted to convert to Judaism and approached the great sage Hillel the Elder. This gentile stated that he would accept Judaism only if taught the whole Torah while standing on one leg. Hillel the Elder simply answered, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah".
Hillel's words make clear that fulfilling the missvot between man and fellow man provides entry into the broader Torah world. When one understands the importance of creating a noble society, only then may the relationship to Bore Olam become uplifted.
We are naturally wired to seek fulfillment of our own self-centered will and not that of the Creator. Once a person overcomes the barriers of selfishness that he has built and learns compassion and benevolence towards others, he will consequently become open to loving Bore Olam.
The two tablets that were given on Har Sinai were connected. One tablet contained commandments that deal with man's realtionship to God, and the other tablet contained missvot between man and man. These tablets were also identical in size and shape to demonstrate that these missvot are inseparable and codependent.
Let's think of ways to improve and refine our character and cultivate wholesome middot, and through them we will surely achieve a higher connection to the One above.
Nov 13 2019
Heshvan 15 5780