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Parashat Mishpatim – Torah’s Representatives

…וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם

And these are the laws that you shall set before them…

 

Rashi points out that by beginning with the word “and” we see that this is a continuation of the previous Parashah which ended with the ten commandments and then the laws of mizbeach, the altar. The Torah tells us that these are from Hashem in the same way that the ten commandments were.

Rashi goes on to say that the reason why these laws are juxtaposed to the laws of mizbeach is to teach that the sanhedrin, the Jewish court, should hold court in the Bet HaMikdash near the mizbeach. Finally, Rashi says that the wording “you shall set before them” is to teach Torah teachers that they must teach “like a set table”. Everything is readily available to whoever wants.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein writes that we learn three things from Rashi. First is that even one who doesn’t merit to be part of the sanhedrin is still under the obligation to be “by the mizbeach.” Wherever one may be they must make themselves fit to be in the Bet HaMikdash. 

The second thing is that we must realize that all of the laws of the Torah are from Hashem. The Torah is about to discuss monetary and civil laws, and one might think that these were just Moshe’s logic. By realizing that they are from Hashem one then delves into the understanding and logic of them to better understand how and when to apply them. 

The final thing is that we must strive to clearly understand every law. When we teach something we must be ready to spoon-feed it. Being that there are many different ways to reach a clear understanding of something, one must know them all.

The importance of refining oneself and one’s understanding of Torah should not be lost on us.

 

Shabbat Shalom

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