Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Mishpatim

The Higher Standard

This portion of the Torah is called "Mishpatim", which means judgements. Our Sages divide the Commandments into three categories: those which signify our special relationship with G-d, those that are not understood by us ("statutes"), and judgements - laws that every nation realizes must exist in order for a group of people to function as a society. This last category includes prohibitions against murder, kidnapping, stealing, cheating in business, and even setting up a court system.

Why did G-d place the Torah portion of "Mishpatim," which contains more laws than any other, immediately following the revelation at Sinai? Answers Rashi, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki: in order that we realize that just as the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai, so were all the others - even those that appear totally rational under a man-made system.

It is traditional in Jewish schools -- and has been for centuries -- to launch young boys into the sea of Talmud not at the first chapter of Brachos, the first tractate, but with the second chapter of Bava Metziah, part of the order concerning monetary damages (there are six orders of Mishnah). The chapter is called "Elu Metzios" -- "these found objects are yours, and these must be announced." The Mishnah in that chapter discusses whether various objects are identifiable enough to require the finder to attempt to return them to their owners. Unfortunately, the objects used there are such items as a ring of figs, not immediately familiar to today's middle school student.

Some educators came to Reb Moshe Feinstein zt"l and asked: why not change? The first tractate of Brachos discusses when a person must read the Shema in the evening. It is immediately relevant to every boy!

He replied that they must not change, but continue to teach "Elu Metzios" first. A child, he said, must understand that "these found objects are yours, but these you must announce [and return to their owner]" is also Torah. The Torah is not just ritual.

Furthermore, it is all-encompassing, requiring a truly rigorous standard of justice and ethics. Just consider the contrast between "these found objects are yours, but these you must announce [and return to their owner]," and what I learned in public school: "finders keepers, losers weepers"...

May we strive to meet the Higher Standard!

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Yaakov Menken


Text Copyright 2004 by Torah.org.

The author is the Director of Project Genesis - Torah.org.


 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Paint the World with Light
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

Pharaoh Delivers A Not So Subtle Reminder: I Made You Who You Are
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

ArtScroll

The Real Story
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Enlightening the Present From the Past
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Mercy Filling
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Yehuda, Yosef and Chanukah
Shlomo Katz - 5763

At The End
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Miketz
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Many Into The Hands of the Few
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Vengeance vs. Conciliations
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

> Mitzvah Lamp
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Stuck on Gum
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Salvation: Express Lane
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

To Fergin or Forget
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774



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