Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Mishpatim - Are We Men, Or Are We Angels?

by Rabbi Dovid Green

Does the Torah demand more than a person can deliver? Is it out of touch with human nature? Are we incapable of truly living up to its lofty ideals?

This week's parsha addresses this question. "Holy people You shall be unto Me etc.," says G-d (Exodus 22:30). Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (19th cent.) commented on these words as follows. G-d is not lacking administering angels, (And He doesn't expect us to be like them). Rather, G-d wants the holiness of mankind.

What is mankind's holiness? In one sense it means uniqueness. Being uplifted. How? It's by being in control of one's life. Enjoy life; but don't become a slave to enjoyment. Don't go to the other extreme either. The Torah doesn't require us to reject the material world. Pleasures and possessions can bring us closer to G-d if we are in control of our consumption. Conversely, once we are dedicated to the material world for its sake alone, then we lower ourselves, and we relinquish control. If we are dedicated to a higher ideal, then to the degree that we utilize our physical existence as a means to that end, we have achieved holiness.

This week's parsha is replete with the many Torah laws governing society. Lending money, responsibilities toward the poor, responsibilities of renters and borrowers, damages, personal injury, and many more can be found.

The message is: live as a physical being in a physical world, but approach life with an ideal and a goal; with a seriousness. Use physical existence for its intended purpose. That is, as a vehicle; a means to an end, a ladder which is grounded on earth, but climbs aloft into the heavens.

How does one begin to climb? Our sages give us the prescription. "Torah learning is great, for it is a catalyst for action". Torah study opens the eyes to new perspectives. Torah study shapes attitudes and encourages elevated behavior one rung of the ladder at a time.

So, is Torah observance beyond humankind? Maybe if we had to be like angels; but that is not the goal. The goal is to live like people - holy people. Through learning with a sincere and serious attitude, we can indeed begin to fulfill the words in this week's reading, "Holy people you shall be unto Me."

Good Shabbos.


Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and Project Genesis, Inc.



 

ARTICLES ON BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

Sweet' Can Emerge From 'Bitter
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Spiritual and Physical
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5769

Test of Affluence
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

How to Always Be Happy
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

It's Raining Bread!
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Back-Seat Driver
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

A Clean Break
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

Jewish Survival
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Roots
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

ArtScroll

Look Not at the Vessel...
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Input...Output
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

An Investment In Our Future
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

> A Good Night's Sleep
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Parnasah: Wherein the Toil?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

Moshe Addressing Yosef’s Request
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5772

Split-Sea Soup
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information