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This week's 10-Minute Torah (January 29, 2022): "Parashat Mishpatim" 5782

Parashat Mishpatim 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת מִּשְׁפָּטִים

Read on 29 January 2022 / 27 Sh'vat 5782.

Parashat Mishpatim is the 18th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Parashat Mishpatim sets out a series of laws, which some scholars call the Covenant Code. It reports the people's acceptance of the covenant with God.

Triennial year 3

1: 23:20-25 · 6 p’sukim ·

2: 23:26-30 · 5 p’sukim ·

3: 23:31-33 · 3 p’sukim ·

4: 24:1-6 · 6 p’sukim ·

5: 24:7-11 · 5 p’sukim ·

6: 24:12-14 · 3 p’sukim ·

7: 24:15-18 · 4 p’sukim ·

maf: 24:15-18 · 4 p’sukim

Haftarah: Jeremiah 34:8-22, 33:25-26 · 17 p’sukim

After having enumerated various laws, Hashem now pledges to watch over his people, the Israelites. The people say, twice, “We will do and we will obey”. The Hebrew is more specifically “we will do and we will hear”. They are committing to these laws as they are hearing them for the first time.

As Israel is agreeing tacitly to these ordinances and decrees, Hashem is pledging to protect them. He will send an angel as His agent to watch over them, make sure that their enemies and foes are also His, and that any people that provokes Israel will end up panicked and terrified. Additionally sealing this covenant is that Israel is to observe festivals that honor the land: Shavuot, the early harvest, and Sukkot, the late harvest.

Question: Is this the second time Moshe Rabbeinu ascends Mt. Sinai or the first? Is what we just read in the last few chapters a flash forward? Or did Moses present the Ten “Utterances”/Commandments to Israel, they agreed, sealed the covenant with offerings (that would form the basis of early Jewish observance) and now Moses was going back up to confer with Hashem?

Many sages prefer the latter, that this was a two-step ratification process. But there is a point of view that espouses the idea of flash forward. Many sages and rabbis believe that the Torah is not always in human chronological order, that events are presented according to a specific intelligence that we, as humans, may not be aware of.

Evidence of regular chronology is the flow of the first the Ten Utterances and then laws pertaining to peoples’ property. Now that the Israelites have received the main premise and heard the basis of their new existence in freedom, they’ve decided that they want to dedicate themselves fully to a divine partnership with Hashem. This justifies Moses again ascending Mt. Sinai to ratify the covenant with G-d.

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