Posted on March 23, 2011
by Ayelet Seed
February 14, 2009/20 Shevat 5769
Parashat Mishpatim explains to us 53 of the 613 mitzvot and is also known as “The Book of the Covenant” (Sefer HaBrit) because it begins the explanation of various mitzvot and it also defines the relationship between God and the Jewish People.
The book is split into four sections. The first discusses civil and criminal matters. The second section describes moral, religious, social and ethical conditions that one must uphold. The third section is a renewal of the God’s promises and a warning against paganism and idolatry. The final section concludes “The Book of the Covenant” and it describes how it was ratified and then Moses sees God in a vision and he then ascends Mt. Sinai for 40 days and night to receive the tablets.
In the final section, Moses reads the Book to the people and they proclaim: And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the hearing of the people; and they said: ‘All that the LORD has spoken will we do, and obey. (24:7)
Now, when one looks at the end of this pasuk, one can see that B’nei Yisrael has put all of their faith and eagerness into being God’s chosen people without even thinking about it. They said “naaseh v’nishma” and instantly took upon themselves the burden of following God’s laws and being the chosen nation. Also, B’nei Yisrael said “naaseh” before they even understood what they were taken up themselves, but by saying “naaseh v’nishma” they are saying that they put all of their faith into God and that God will guide and lead them on the proper path. B’nei Yisrael could have said “nishma v’naaseh” and thereby saying that they would try to understand and if they do then they will follow.
We read in the Babyloian Talmud Mascot Shabbat 88a:
“R. Simla lectured: When the Israelites gave precedence to ‘we will do’ over ‘we will listen,’ six hundred thousand ministering angels came and set two crowns upon each man of Israel, one as a reward for ‘we will do,’ and the other as a reward for ‘we will listen.’ When the people of Israel gave precedence to ‘we will do’ over ‘we will hear,’ a heavenly voice issued forth and exclaimed to them: ‘Who revealed to my children this secret, which is employed by the angels?’ As it is written (Psalms 103:20), ‘Bless the L-rd His angels, those mighty in strength, who fulfill His word, who hear the voice of His word’ – first they ‘fulfill’ and then they ‘listen.’”
In our daily lives there are many instances where accept information or facts based on trust such as with doctors and we also commit ourselves to careers and relationships based on faith before we know fully what they will entail. This is what B’nei Yisrael did. “There are many things in life that we cannot appreciate before we have lived them and come to appreciate their value. We must do them first (naaseh) and only afterward realize why (nishma).” (Etz Chaim p. 478).
As well this week is Shabbat Shekalim. This is “the first of four special Sabbaths before Passover, this Sabbath is called Shabbat Shekalim because we read in a special Maftir reading of the obligation to donate a half shekel for the maintenance of the Temple.” (Luah p. 44)