In last week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, it literally means "Civil and Criminal Laws," referring to the laws that are recorded in the Torah and were communicated at Mount Sinai. The Mishpatim Parsha contains 23 positive mitzvahs and 30 prohibitions, totaling 53 mandates. Many of them are self-explanatory, such as, not to strike your father or mother, not to afflict an orphan or widow, lending to the poor, resting on Shabbat, not to curse the name of G-d, and so on. The general categories, include the laws of slaves, laws of assault and kidnapping, laws of negligence and theft, laws of illicit and idolatrous behavior, helping the unfortunate and respecting leaders, agricultural offerings, judicial laws on avoiding prejudice, Shabbat and Yom -Tov, dispersion of enemies and conquest of the land. Furthermore, this Biblical chapter addresses the Jewish people entering into covenant with G-d, as well as Moshe ascending the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.
As we talk about the details of all the multitude of Laws that affect us individually as well as our relations with other people. All of a sudden the parsha transitions into the mystical mention of an angel…….. who is this angel? And what is its purpose in this Portion and what are we to learn about this particular angel and angels in general in Judaism? This mention of the heavenly creature is followed in chapter 7, v. 32 by "Do not make a pact with men or with their G-d’s, do not allow them to live in your land, because they may cause you to sin to me, that you ‘might’ worship their G-d’s, and this would be a ‘fatal’ trap to you."
In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, G-d commanded Moses and the children of Israel to build a tabernacle in addition to specifics about contributions toward the Tabernacle and the detailed directions to constructing the ark, the table, the menorah, the curtain and the altars. The intricate design of all the symbolic items represents deep meanings and demonstrates G-d’s attention to the nitty gritty facets of ritual items.
What does this mean in light of the negotiations and discussions about uprooting Jewish communities in Gaza, as well as handing over land and homes on the West Bank to the Arabs—including five West Bank Jewish towns? This issue is very sensitive and the results will have dire implications for our future.
Being smart and being informed and following G-d’s directions and instructions all need to be considered in forming our own personal belief system and convictions regarding this issue. There are pieces of our tradition that are deeply rooted in who we are as a nation. We are taught that not only the land, the people the customs, but the symbolic treasures of Jewish life hold tremendous value and essential to our identity and our survival. Territorial issues as well as the continuing rebuilding of our homeland are at stake. We want to do the right thing and see the right outcome is realized with no bloodshed. This time, perhaps what we can do on a personal level is to pray for the leaders to seek G-d’s wisdom for them to make the right decisions.
It is very important for every member of the Jewish community to pray with great devotion and to be aware of global matters. Moreover, we should make an arduous effort to get involved and do whatever we can to ensure the survival of the Jewish nation and the safeguarding of Jews all over the world so that peace would arrive for all people to enjoy G-d’s great gift of life on this earth and that there would be no more suffering or strife. By performing practical mitzvot and planting in one self positive character traits, perhaps we can individually and collectively cause an abundance of blessings from G-d to reach all of society. Shabbat Shalom.