Friday, February 1, 2019

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Mishpatim

       After the giving of the Torah to Bnei Yisrael, Parshas Mishpatim begins the more practical aspects of learning a new system of life and laws. But in fact, hidden among the everyday laws of business, property damage, and personal injury, one of the most famous phrases in Jewish history is uttered. “וַיִּקַּח֙ סֵ֣פֶר הַבְּרִ֔ית וַיִּקְרָ֖א בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽעAnd he (Moshe) took the book of the covenant and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said, ‘All that Hashem spoke we will do and we will hear (Shemos 24:7).
       Believe it or not, the well-known phrase most commonly associated with Matan Torah actually only appears a full parsha later. This leads to the obvious question: why did it take Bnei Yisrael so long to say this? They needed to hear the laws of Mishpatim in order to have this reaction? Furthermore, it’s not as if this was their first opportunity; twice previously, in 19:8 (before Matan Torah) and 24:3, the Bnei Yisrael said “we will do”, without saying “we will hear.” So what was different about this time?
       We’ve discussed this question in previous years, but this year, I’d like to focus on the answer of Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky. At Har Sinai during the giving of the Torah, the pesukim explain the amazing sites the nation witnessed. Fire, thick clouds of smoke, terrifying shofar blasts, thunder and lightning, it all made for an awesome display. The main feature of these sights may have been the sound; these elements made for a tremendous sound which overloaded the senses and had an overwhelming effect on the people present. However, Chazal explain that each person actually was only able to hear what they were capable of handling.
       Based on this midrash, Reb Yaakov explains simply that the previous two times the Bnei Yisrael exclaimed “נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה”, it was declared by parts of the nation who could not fully hear what had gone on at Har Sinai. But this time, the pasuk describes the Torah as being read “בְּאָזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם”, directly into the ears of the people. This group included the Jews who could hear all that went on at Matan Torah, which was actually the vast majority of the nation. Therefore, at this time, the Nation was ready and able to declare, “נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע!” They could now acknowledge the full force of Hashem’s power on display at Har Sinai, proudly accept the Torah, and promise to keep it to its full capacity.

Shabbat Shalom!

Click here for last year's Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Mishaptim

Click here to listen this this week's Podcast (Also available on Apple Podcasts) 

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