YESHIVAT HARA'AYON HAYEHUDI
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva
PARSHAT MISHPATIM/SHABBAT SHEKALIM
27 Shvat, 5766/24-25 February, 2006
IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
With the revelation of Sinai still fresh in the minds of the Jewish people, in this week’s parsha we are confronted with the particulars and the minute details of the laws. This comes after bearing witness to the unparalleled event of G-d Himself coming down to give over the Torah to the Jewish people, with the people themselves hearing the word of Hashem. Our Rabbis teach us that what the prophet Yechezkel did not see, the generation
of Mt. Sinai did.
Now after the "Big Bang", the greatest high imaginable, the Torah laws were beginning to filter down to the people. Our parsha opens up with the laws pertaining to the Jewish and non-Jewish slave: when they are released
from bondage and under what circumstances, and how the courts sold them. Punishment for murder follows next, whether by mistake or intent and where the murderer is allowed to flee to. Punishment for smiting or cursing one's parents, and then on to compensation for various types of damages, with all the details.
If this weren't enough for one parsha, the Torah goes on to teach us the laws of stolen property and prohibition of deceit. From there, it’s on to some laws applying to judges, witnesses and defendants. Laws of making false statements and capital punishment, etc. etc. etc. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg of all the many, many details of the laws that came down to us at Sinai.
Well, the people began looking at each other and then they started to back away. The Ramban explains that this was the beginning of their downfall and removal of the Divine Presence that dwelt among the Jewish people. This is like a school child who just can't wait for the final bell to ring so he can run away from school. So, too, the Jewish people at the time hit the road, to make sure that no more laws would be coming down to them.
With the removal of the Divine Presence from the Jewish camp, the road was very short indeed to the ultimate downfall of the nation. Not long after, the Jews sin by worshipping the golden calf, and then, of course, came the rebellion of listening to the ten spies and not entering into the Land of Israel. If only the Jews would have held out, gone the extra mile and not fallen victim to shortsightedness, the mistakes would not have been made and the complete Redemption of the Jewish people would have come at that time, at its peak when the Jewish people entered the Land of Israel, the Land promised to them, within a very short time.
It is this tiredness of the long haul - at a time of weakness - that important decisions should not be made. For out of weakness can never come strength. We must be ready to go the extra mile and go the full distance, for only in this way will we be able to stay on track, no matter what burdens we must carry - all the way to the end.
With love of Israel,
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