Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Parshat Mishpatim

Posted by rabbiart on April 21, 2008

This weeks parshah, Mishpatim (Judgments) is aptly named, because it contains within it 53 different mitzvot. You can see the full list of mitzvot here. During the remainder of our Torah reading cycle until we approach the end of Devarim (Deuteronomy) we will be almost inundated with mitzvot. Mitzvot come to teach us how to behave, and it is through our behavior that we construct the society in which we live. At times it makes sense to concern ourselves with the details of observing particular mitzvot, but there is also a time to consider their deeper meaning and significance. Last week during the Shabbat morning Torah study I proposed a series of questions about mitzvot, and suggested that these questions will underlie our study over the remainder of spring and summer.

As you study, or better yet, fulfill a Mitzvah, consider these aspects of the particular Mitzvah, and the purpose of Mitzvot in general.
Regarding the inner self.
What is going on inside us when we observe commandments?
What is the affect on us that observing the commandment has?
What is going on inside the mind of God when God gives us commandments?
Regarding the outer self.
What are we doing with our bodies when we observe a commandment?
What effect are we having on the world, on other Jews around us when we observe a commandment?
Regarding the other.
What effect are we having on non-Jews when we observe a commandment.

What we say with our mouths is important – and has an impact on the world. Several of the mitzvot in the parshah deal with matters of speech. What we do with our bodies and possessions can have an even bigger impact on the world. The concept is easy to understand, but living up to it can sometimes be a challenge for us. “Translating” the mitzvot from their original context to the world we live in is not always straightforward, but try this experiment and see how you come out. Read the list of the 57 mitzvot for this parshah. Some will be easy to understand, others a bit obscure. Count how many of the mitzvot on the list (its only a list, there is no explanation) are (a) understandable to you, (b) do-able by you, and most importantly (c) if you are already observing them.

Shabbat Shalom

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