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Mishpatim • 5775 •משפטים
The Jewish People receive a series of laws concerning social justice. Topics include: proper treatment of Jewish servants, a husband’s obligations to his wife, penalties for hitting people and for cursing parents, judges, and leaders; financial responsibilities for damaging people or their property, either by oneself or by one’s animate or inanimate property, or by pitfalls that one created; payments for theft, not returning an object that one accepted responsibility to guard, and the right to self-defense of a person being robbed.
Other topics include: prohibitions against seduction; witchcraft, bestiality, and sacrifices to idols. The Torah warns us to treat the convert, widow, and orphan with dignity, and to avoid lying. Usury is forbidden and the rights over collateral are limited. Payment of obligations to the Temple should not be delayed, and the Jewish People must be holy, even concerning food. The Torah teaches the proper conduct for judges in court proceedings. The commandments of Shabbat and the Sabbatical year are outlined.
Three times a year — Pesach, Shavuot and Succot — we are to come to the Temple. The Torah concludes this listing of laws with a law of kashrut — not to mix milk and meat. G-d promises that He will lead the Jewish People to the Land of Israel, helping them conquer its inhabitants, and tells them that by fulfilling His commandments they will bring blessings to their nation. The people promise to do and listen to everything that G-d says. Moshe writes the Book of the Covenant, and reads it to the people. Moshe ascends the mountain to remain there for 40 days in order to receive the two Tablets of the Covenant.
MAFTIR Exodus 30:11-16 ~ page 352
HAFTORAH II Kings 12:1 – 12:17 ~ pages 992 – 995
This Haftarah relates how the young King Yeho’ash (3084 – 677 B.C.E.) collected the funds for the rededication of the Holy Temple. He strengthened and redecorated the 155-year old Temple and instituted a simple system of collection, known today as the “Pushka.” A special box was designated next to the Altar where all collected monies were deposited. The money was counted and dispersed as needed to workmen in the Temple. The Prophet specifically states that no accounting was made with the contractors because they were men of integrity. Yeho’ash was the sole survivor from the House of King David. Most were massacred by Queen Athalya, the daughter of Achav and Ezevel. The young prince was saved by his aunt, Yehosheva, the wife of Yehoyada the Kohein Gadol, who hid him in the Temple for six years. At the age of seven, Yehoyada revealed Yeho’ash’s existence and coronated him the King of Yehudah. Yehoyada was the disciple of Elijah the Prophet.
Parashah Study Questions
1. The Torah expresses a special mitzvah for the master of a Hebrew maid/slaves to marry her (21:8-9). Why? What insight does this give us regarding an appropriate attitude to slavery?
2. Although in biblical times other cultures had prisons (Yosef in Egypt and Shimshon in Gaza, as well as Yirmiyahu, Ztedakiyah, and Daniel), why do you think there are no biblical processes of incarceration? Why was enslavement the divine process for rehabilitation? [Discussion: ‘The Blasphemer’ (Lev. 24:12) and ‘The Gatherer of Sticks’ (Num. 15:34) were “put under watch” – to await trial].
3. Why is lending money at interest called “biting” – êùÚð Ú (22:24)?
4. Anything interesting in v. 24:9?
5. Why is Shabbat Shekalim this weekend? What is its relationship with Purim?