Exodus 21:1 -- 24:18
Following on the heels of the Ten commandments,
this week's Torah portion deals primarily
with civil law. Like the realm of the ceremonial, our worldly and
common activities must be infused with holiness and observed
carefully. Included amongst the civil laws discussed in the portion
are; penalties for causing bodily injury to
another person and damaging his property; laws regarding borrowers; the
mitzvah to show sensitivity to the poor and to offer them free loans; and
laws relating to the honest dispensation of justice. After mentioning
the mitzvos of Shabbos and
Shemittah (the Sabbatical year), the
portion continues with a brief discussion of the three pilgrimage festivals
-- Pesach, Shevous and Sukkos.
The Torah then
returns to the revelation at Mt.
Jewish people declare their commitment to do whatever G-d commands with the
famous phrase "Everything G-d has said, we will do and we will
listen." The portion concludes with Moses' ascending the
mountain, where he will remain for forty days and forty nights to receive
the rest of the Torah
What can we learn from an
I recently read of a man who was going
on a vacation to one of the countries in the Caribbean.
He wanted a room for himself and his pet dog, and asked if the
establishment, a hotel in Kingston,
would allow an animal. Shortly thereafter he received this reply:
I've been in the hotel business for
forty years and never had to eject a disorderly dog. Never has a dog
set a mattress on fire while smoking in bed. Never has a dog stolen a
towel or sneaked an unpaid guest into his room. Never has a dog acted
disorderly, drunk or otherwise. Your dog is welcome. If he can vouch
for you, you can come along as well.
I'm not certain that our family dog, Zander,
would be prepared to vouch for me. However, I do know that this
week's portion speaks about dogs. The Torah (Exodus 22:30) states
that we should not eat the meat of an animal that was found dead in a
field. Rather we should throw its meat to the dogs. The next
verse states that we should not speak loshon hara (gossip) against another person. From
the juxtaposition of these two verses, the Talmud derives
a tremendous lesson. It states that anyone who speaks or accepts
words of loshon
hara is fit to be thrown to the dogs.
One of the signs of a truly 'Serious
Jew' is that he or she does his utmost to refrain from derogatory speech.
To learn more about the laws and guidelines of proper speech, I
highly recommend the book 'Guard Your Tongue' by Rabbi
If we read and study the laws of loshon hara and focus our attention upon using our words
constructively, perhaps our family pet would vouch for us!
Quote of the Week
Joke of the Week
Jewish College, the sports department decided to start a rowing
team. However as luck would have it they lost every contest.
After suffering defeat after defeat, the coach decided to try a different
approach. He called upon one of his crew members and gave him the
assignment to check out the best teams, to see what is
their secret of success.
out the Yale and
Harvard rowing teams, the Jewish crew member
returned to his coach.
you see anything that they do that is different then what we do?"
was the reply, "They do the opposite of us.
They only have one guy yelling and eight guys rowing!!"