Friday, February 9, 2018

Dvar Torah & Podcast for Parshas Mishpatim

       Parshas Mishpatim is known for its discussion of some of the most technical, albeit vital, aspects of Jewish law. However, as we approach the end of the parsha, some different themes emerge, particularly in the relationship between Hashem and the Bnei Yisrael. In the sixth Aliya, Hashem tells the nation how He will be leading them through the desert to Eretz Yisrael. Any barrier or threat that comes upon them will be immediately and completely destroyed. The Aliya ends with an uplifting pasuk, but which contains some confusing language as well.
       “וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם אֵ֚ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵרַ֥ךְ אֶת־לַחְמְךָ֖ וְאֶת־מֵימֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִ֥י מַֽחֲלָ֖ה מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ“You shall worship Hashem, your God, and He shall bless your bread and your water, and I will remove illness from your midst” (Shemos 23:25). Though it can’t be seen in the translation, in the original Hebrew, the pasuk begins by addressing a group of people, “וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם”, and ends by addressing individuals. Why is this? The blessings mentioned in the pasuk seem to be applicable to everyone; why would the Torah switch from speaking to the public to individuals?
       The Kli Yakar explains that each half of the pasuk differs in its direct effect on the People. All Jews are responsible for the spiritual (and physical) welfare of each other. Therefore, when discussing the service of Hashem, the pasuk speaks to the general populace. However, not everyone ate together, so their bread would be blessed on an individual level, leading the Torah to give that bracha to the individual. However, that bracha would not be given until the overall avodas Hashem of the nation was on the proper level.
       While it may be difficult for us to understand the brilliance of the language found in the various laws in this week’s parsha, this is simple enough for us to understand. And how great is it that even in the midst of the technicalities of law that are found in Mishpatim, we still find this nugget which shows us the careful care of Hashem in dealing with every single individual according to what makes sense.

Shabbat Shalom! 

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