Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dvar Torah for Parshas Mishpatim

       After receiving the Torah in Parshas Yisro, the Torah continues with Parshas Mishpatim which contains many technical cases necessary to living in a Torah culture. Why these are important to know right away and how they are directly connected to the Aseres Hadibros is a topic of discussion amongst the Meforshim. However, a lesser known fact about Parshas Mishpatim is that it contains the utterance of perhaps the most famous phrase in the entire Torah, Bnei Yisrael exclaiming “נעשה ונשמע”, “we will do and we will hear”. (Shemos 24:7)
       The first thing you notice about this phrase is that it appears to have been said out of order. Normally, you first listen to something and understand it before you commit to keeping it. Here, the Bnei Yisrael do the exact opposite! The Meforshim use this to show the strength of Bnei Yisrael’s commitment to Hashem, that they were willing to accept even that which they had not heard yet. They knew that if it was coming from Hashem, it would be good and worthwhile for them.
       Interestingly enough, if you look earlier in pasuk 3, the pasuk reads, “וַיָּבֹא משֶׁה וַיְסַפֵּר לָעָם אֵת כָּל דִּבְרֵי יְהֹוָה וְאֵת כָּל הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וַיַּעַן כָּל הָעָם קוֹל אֶחָד וַיֹּאמְרוּ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה נַעֲשֶׂה “So Moshe came and told the nation all the words of Hashem and all the ordinances, and all the people answered in unison, ‘All the words that Hashem has spoken we will do”. (24:3) Over here the people say just the first part of the phrase, “נעשה”, and only later on in Pasuk 7 do they add on the second part of “ונשמע”.
       The Kli Yakar explains that there was a slight misunderstanding between Moshe and the nation. The nation thought that after hearing the Torah at Har Sinai, that would be the extent of the Torah included in the treaty they had made with Hashem. However, in the meantime, Moshe prepared animal blood to be sprinkled upon the nation as a final step in the consummation of the treaty. (See the commentaries for an explanation as to why this was part of the process.) He put half the blood in one container to sprinkle on Bnei Yisrael and the other half in another container to throw on the Mizbe’ach (Alter). When the Bnei Yisrael saw half the blood being put to the side, they assumed it was intended for a later time when the treaty would be renewed with them receiving an additional portion of the Torah. Therefore, they followed up their original declaration with “נעשה ונשמע”, to include the future mitzvos they would receive. Realizing their mistake, Moshe informed them that this would be the only time a treaty would be made; there were no further parts of the Torah waiting to be given.
       Whichever way we explain “נעשה ונשמע”, the principle of the matter remains the same. This phrase shows the complete emunah and bitachon Bnei Yisrael had in Hashem, as well as their eagerness to keep the Torah and perform as many mitzvos as they could. Even going so far as to commit to any future obligations that would be placed on them, without even having the slightest inkling as to what they would consist of. Let us strive for that same dedication in our own service of Hashem. By reaching this level, perhaps we too can grow to the same heights as that generation which was worthy of actually being the receivers of the Torah. Reaching this level will surely lead us to the Geulah Shelaimah.

Shabbat Shalom!

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