Parshas Mishpatim

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 among 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 — Passover, Shavuos and Sukkos. The Torah then returns to the revelation at Mt. Sinai. The 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.