This week’s Parasha is Parashat Mishpatim. Following the Jews’ acceptance of the Ten Commandments, G-D gives them a list of civil laws to follow. In total there are 53 separate commandments mentioned in Mishpatim. In this week’s Torah portion, another interesting event occurs. G-D gave the Jews the Ten Commandments, however the Jews panicked and asked Moses to go up the mountain to accept the Torah on their behalf.
In this Parasha Moses goes up the mountain for a period of forty days and forty nights. It is also in this week’s Parasha that the Jews Declare: ‘All that G-D has spoken, we will do and we will hear.’ (Exodus 24:3-7) Our rabbis teach us that when G-D gave the Jewish nation the Torah, He presented them with an ultimatum: to accept it or to die where they stand. This seems to completely contradict the notion that the Jews accepted it willingly. If the Jews were willing to accept the Torah without hesitation, why were they then coerced into doing so? One explanation given is that G-D had to force the Jews to accept the Torah because He knew there was no situation in which we can survive without it. If He gave the Jews the Torah only because they were willing to receive it, it would create the assumption that they could go on without the Torah. G-D had to force them despite their declaration to accept it without hesitation just to emphasize that it was crucial for their existence.
The lesson learned from Na’aseh Venishma (we shall do and then we shall hear), is that Torah observance is at the core of every person’s life, and we must all learn to incorporate our daily practices into it.
Shabbat Shalom and Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Marco, Grade 12