Petty Theft

People often accuse Judaism of being too focused on details. This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, is cited as an example of this focus.  It is full of detailed laws regarding torts, damages, theft, contract law, marriage law, property law etc. etc. It is not a very “spiritual” section of the Torah.  However, I gained some insight into the Parsha during some recent travels.  I witnessed a few cases of theft ...

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Israel and the Divine Presence

I would like to continue the theme that we started on Tu Bishvat and discuss a few more ideas about the Land of Israel.  Our Sages tell us that the Divine Presence, the Shechina is found in Israel, more in the city of Jerusalem and even more so at the Western Wall, the Kotel.  The Hebrew word Shechinah means “Divine Presence.”  Although in reality, G-d permeates all of time and ...

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Laws that Elevate

This week’s parsha, Mishpatim, follows the description of the revelation at Mt. Sinai, the giving of the Torah, and the listing of the famous, Ten Statements (or, colloquially, Commandments).  In our Torah reading there is an extensive focus on civil law, interpersonal relationships, finances, torts and damages.  The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets. On the first tablet were five statements about the relationship between a person and his ...

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The Thirteenth Month

This week we will be marking the beginning of the month of Adar One, which is the additional month added to a Jewish leap year, making it 13 months. Measuring and marking the passage of time is a universal human preoccupation. At least forty different calendars are in use around the world today.  The most widely used systems are the solar calendar, based on the cycle of the sun, and ...

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10 Commandments

Justice! – Mishpatim 5776

Last Shabbat we read the Ten Commandments in synagogue, and this coming week we will be reading the Parsha of Mishpatim, judgments, detailing many of the laws that govern commerce, society, business and human interactions.  I believe that that there are some important lessons in this juxtaposition.  The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets.  On the first tablet were five statements about the relationship between a person and his ...

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