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This Week's The Torah Portion:

Torah reading "Mishpatim"


: "Mishpatim" means "Laws". And for good reason! In the aftermath of the revelation of the Ten Commandments, many new Commandments are promulgated by Moses as "fine print" to the first ten. These laws, for the most part, address one subject: inter-personal relations. The following are some of the kinds of legislation found in this week's Torah portion:

√ laws which protect servants from exploitation

√ laws which protect laborers from exploitation

√ laws which protect women from exploitation

√ laws which protect the poor from exploitation

√ laws which protect new immigrants from exploitation

√laws which protect litigants from exploitation

√laws which protect animals from exploitation

What do all these new laws have in common? They are all aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of society; and understandably: The Israelites have just departed from hundreds of years of ruthless exploitation under the Pharaohs of Egypt. Moses, in these laws, is therefore endeavoring to learn a lesson from the suffering of the past 400 years. His legislation, in effect, is an attempt to prevent the Israelites from becoming Pharaohs" to one another.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus


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