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Magnetic Moment

By: Ms. Leora Clair

Coming off the heels of last week, the Torah leaves us on quite a high! After intense preparation, Hashem comes down onto Har Sinai and gives Moshe and Bnei Yisrael the Aseret Hadibrot. With lightening, thunder, shofar blasts, and awe, Bnei Yisrael stands and accepts Hashem as our Master. Hashem’s presence could be felt and the clarity was overwhelming.

The powerful and exciting process of Kabalat HaTorah continues into this week’s Torah reading, Parsha Mishpatim…However not until after three full prekaim of just mitzvot! We are at the peak of kabalat HaTorah! All we wanted to know when we left shul last week is how this concert of kedusha ends! It is not until the end of Parshat Mishpatim that we see that Bnei Yisrael declares a resounding: נעשה ונשמע! THAT is what we expect to find in the beginning of our Parsha—so what’s going on with almost a hundred psukim of laws stuck in between?

The Netivot Shalom, the Slonimer Rebbe, raises this question and offers a beautiful answer. Background point: the Slonimer Rebbe points out that there is a major machloket amongst Chazal and the Rishonim about whether events recorded in the Torah are in chronological order or not. Accepting that there are some that say, like Rashi, that the Torah isn’t necessarily written in chronological order, so it’s possible this list of mishpatim were not actually said in the middle of kabalat HaTorah, Hashem wrote the mishpatim here for a reason that we must try to reveal. Also, to make our question stronger, the Netivot Shalom brings a midresh that says "מגיד דבריו ליעקב חקיו ומשפטיו לישראל" (תהילים קמז), the דבריו refers to the עשרת הדברות and that חקיו ומשטיו refers to the mishpatim from our parsha. The mishpatim in our parsha are at the same level of Kedusha as the Aseret HaDibrot! What? since when?! There is no movie made about them! But perhaps the mishpatim are not only at the same level as the עשרת הדברות, they are even at a higher level of kedusha because they are given to ישראל, which is a higher level than יעקב!

So we ask again: What is so special and significant about these mishpatim that Hashem stuck them in the midst of Kabalat HaTorah and that they are considered to be at a higher level than even the Aseret HaDibrot? The Netivot Shalom offers two beautiful answers, but we are going to focus on the second one.

The Slonimer Rebbe explains according to Chazal, Hashem desired to have a dwelling in the lower world, a דירה בתחתונים.  Sefer Shmot is the blueprint of how to create that dwelling place for Hashem. Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim and made us His people, so that we could be a nation set out to show Hashem’s oneness to the world. Hashem told us to build him a בית המקדש so that he can dwell in this world. Hashem then gave us the Torah, which in essence, is Hashem’s way of representing Himself in this world. Parshat Mishpatim is therefore part of this process, as well. These one hundred psukim of law after law contain within them that power of bringing Hashem into our world. There is no way that Hashem would dwell in a world full of שקר, He therefore gave us the mishpatim, and said: ‘Fill the world with truth! My truth! Then, I will be able to live in it.’ The Mishpatim are so holy because they are Hashem’s “cleaning supplies.” He is giving us דבר ה' as a gift and is asking us to use Truth to cleanse corruption. It is through these mitzvot that Hashem can really exist amongst us. 

I heard a shiur by Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg that takes this concept even farther. One of the best ways to bring Hashem into the world is by making Him a part of us. How do we do that? How do we make Hashem a part of us? How do we become a walking Kiddush Hashem?

Quoting the Sfas Emes, Rav Moshe Tzvi explains by living by the opening pasuk in our parsha:

ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם (כא,א). We need to put Hashem and his mitzvot, לפנינו, first. It doesn’t matter to me how the Mitzvot will affect me. It’s not about my personal gain. This is so much bigger than me. Hashem wants me to do it, so I will do it for him. A relationship has to be about what I can give, not only about what I can gain. Hashem is asking us to put Him first. THAT is how he will become a part of us. That is how the relationship will be strongest. It’s at moments when we aren’t in the mood to daven or our friends are testing our patience that Hashem asks to put Him first. He is essentially saying, ‘Do it for me.’ Show me that you care so much about Me and our relationship that you are willing to put My wishes before your own.

We bring Hashem into the world by bringing him into our lives. In every mitzvah we do and every good choice that we make, we bring Hashem in the world and become that much closer to Him. Hashem is giving us these mishpatim with the command to fill the world with objective truth and justice. They are magnets, pulling us and Hashem together. It is only when we live our lives by these mishpatim that Hashem can dwell here. And it is only when we put Hashem’s will before our own that He can truly dwell within us.

Shabbat Shalom!





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