Saturday, January 25, 2014

18th Torah portion, 6th in Exodus – Mishpatim

21:1-24:18 (118 verses)

 

Synopsis:

 

Interpersonal laws ranging from the treatment of slaves to the exhibition of kindness to strangers are listed. Cultic laws follow, including the commandment to observe the Sabbatical Year, a repetition of the Sabbath injunction, the first mention of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals, rules of sacrificial offerings, and the prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. The people assent to the Covenant. Moses, Aaron, Nadav, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel ascend the mountain and see God. Moses goes on alone and spends forty days on the mountain.

 

Commentary:

Ripples in a Pond by Rabbi Melanie Aron, 1999 

Are we responsible for the unforeseen consequences of our actions?

            “When a fire is started and spreads to thorns so that stacked, standing, or growing grain [in a field] is consumed, he who started the fire must make restitution” (Exodus 22:5).

            Rashi (1040-1105): Although he lit the fire on his own soil and it extended by itself through the thorns that it came across, he has to make restitution because he did not guard his fire (burning coals) that it should not extend and cause damage.

            Sh’mirat HaLashon (1838-1933): If you unnecessarily told Reuven that Shimon spoke against him or wronged him and Reuven grew angry to the extent that Shimon’s life is in danger, you have an even greater obligation than usual to remove the danger. If you are unable to do so yourself, you must ask others to help you.

            Questions:

 

    1. What fires might we have ignited in the hearts of others? How might we make restitution?

                     2.  What does this say about thinking that it is important to always speak the truth?