1. Pinner Shul
  2. Sedra Synopsis
  3. Mishpatim 5783

Our Parsha begins “And these are the statutes that you shall place before them.” Rashi comments that usually “and these” means “at the  exclusion of others” but our parsha begins with “and” in order to connect these laws to last week’s parsha. Just as the previous parsha’s commandments were from Sinai, so too are these laws. 

There is another Rashi [Vayikra 25:1] on the words “On Mount Sinai” which asks, “What is the connection between Sh’mitah and Mount Sinai?” Rashi there answers that just like the laws of Sh’mitah were given with all their rules and intricate details at Sinai, the same applies to all the other commandments. 

What is Rashi adding here? We know that the whole Torah was given at Sinai! 

According to the Ramban, Parshiot Mishpatim and Yitro were said together at the initial meeting of Hashem with Moshe on Sinai . After that, Moshe came down, taught Bnei Yisrael what he had learned from Hashem and then went back up to Mount Sinai to learn more. 

What emerges from this Ramban is that the mundane laws and intricacies of life, such as one ox goring another ox or paying workers on time, have the same status and were given at the same time as the Ten Commandments. 

Therefore, Rashi is stating something significant. 

Isn’t it peculiar that almost in the same breath as Hashem spoke “I am the Lord your God who took you out from Egypt…”, the foundation of Judaism, He also told of our responsibilities when we borrow our neighbour’s car? 

Rav Moshe Feinstein, said that this teaches us that if a person doesn’t keep Parshat Mishpatim and more specifically monetary laws, then they don’t believe in “I am the Lord your God” either. 

“I am the Lord your God” is the theory — I believe. The other side of the coin, the practice, is do you cheat in business? If you cheat in business, you can’t believe in “I am the Lord your God”. If a person believes that God provides the livelihood, then why cheat as “A person’s livelihood is fixed for him from Rosh HaShannah” [Beitzah 16a]. Cheating implies disbelief. 

That is why “I am the Lord your God” and the law of how to pay one’s workers were learnt together. 

Rav Schwab asks “We see people who cheat a tremendous amount and are nonetheless, successful. If financial security comes from God, how can that be?” 

He explains that such people’s money comes from the ‘Sitra Achra’, from the forces of impurity in the world, not from God. No good will ever come from such money. 

The ‘test’ of earning a livelihood is not only a test of telling the truth, of not stealing, etc. It is a test of ‘I am the Lord your God’. Daily, we are put to the ‘test’ of whether we believe. If we believe, then there is never a reason to be less than 100% honest in our dealings with other people and with ourselves. 

Zoe Daniels

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