This week's Parsha, Mishpatim, is filled with laws and judgments designed to bring the Sinai Revelation into the daily life of the people. The purpose of these societal mitzvot is to create a more just and compassionate society.
Doing mitzvot help us to grow as human beings, increasing our sensitivity to all life and connecting our inner light with the light of our Creator. Living a life of mitzvot "form threads of light in heaven..." (Zohar)
The Parsha begins with the "Executive Order" regarding the freeing of servants after six years of service," clearly a major step forward for that society. What follows are the laws of compensation and property rights. A relevant teaching today: "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the Land of Egypt...you know the heart of the stranger...". Another great judgment: "You shall not follow a multitude to do evil...". The Parsha continues: "...you shall not pervert justice; …you shall give your Land a period of rest in the seventh year, as well as your workers and your animals; ...you shall celebrate feasts of thanksgiving to me..."
The Parsha then describes those holy structures, the Aron HaKodesh and the Mishkan, that carry these teachings from Sinai.
Today we are looking with tremendous scrutiny at the institutions and structures that hold the cherished principles and values of this nation. When we look at the White House, we wonder what is going on in there. When we look at the Capitol, we wonder about the discordance inside. When we look at the Supreme Court building, we fear for its integrity. But the Torah, in giving us these teachings about justice and compassion, knows that the true holy ark is the one in which we walk with our physical being and hearts every day of our lives. Join us this Shabbes. Brachot, Reb David