Posted on March 23, 2011
by Mordy Greenspan
As I drove for the first time after getting my permit, I stopped at a red light. Later I went into a convenience store and bought a Mr. Goodbar; I didn’t steal it. As part of modern society, we constantly follow laws that affect us daily. Hopefully none of us break these laws because they are what keep our countries safe and give us a sense of structure and reliability. Laws are important to all communities, whether in America, Canada, Israel, anywhere!
In this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, we learn the importance of laws in a Jewish community. While the text not be the most exciting, there is much we can learn from this portion. On the surface we learn about murder, treatment of slaves, physical damages involving oxen, damages incurred from holes, etc., but that is not all that this portion is about. Most of us probably can’t even relate to this portion, because we don’t have slaves, or oxen, or random holes that people might fall into in our backyard!
What this portion really is saying is that laws are necessary in every community. These laws were more applicable around the time that the Torah was written. What has lasted from these commandments is the idea of having laws in all societies. So while many people might look to this portion to learn about how they should treat their slaves, I see it quite differently. Instead let us learn the importance of laws in all societies, in the present and the future.