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Mishpatim in a Nutshell

Mishpatim in a Nutshell

Exodus 21:1–24:18


Following the revelation at Sinai, G‑d legislates a series of laws for the people of Israel. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the “Four Guardians”; and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.

Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; and the mitzvah of prayer. Altogether, the Parshah of Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot—23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions.

G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.

The people of Israel proclaim, “We will do and we will hear all that G‑d commands us.” Leaving Aaron and Hur in charge in the Israelite camp, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from G‑d.

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Discussion (15)
February 12, 2016
These laws were taught to the Jews in the desert, but with the understanding that they would only apply once the nation entered the land of Israel, and the people actually began to engage in agriculture. This is true for many laws that only became practicable in Israel.
Malkie Janowski for
February 8, 2016
Mishpatim before the Temple and land of Israel
How is the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem mentioned in Mishpatim?
February 6, 2016
update to old comment
Attending a Shiur with our local Rabbi is so enriching! I stopped having dairy with chicken to appreciate the difference in how dairy nurtures and meat shows strength. Our weekly 1-hour Shiur encourages careful, meaningful thought, in addition to the posted commentaries.
February 6, 2016
Still holds value
The values of respect and responsibility that these commandments promote are timeless. Holding such values builds trust and sets expectations that knit a community together. I hardly knew my neighbors before I settled in Israel and love living here.
February 6, 2016
Great resource
This site is very helpful and informative. It explains the parsha in an approachable way. It's my go to resource for my monthly parsha exploration and drama games session that I do for junior congregation at my synagogue. Thank you. I'm learning a lot!!!
New York
February 6, 2016
Agreeing with Davida on fowl and milk. That never made sense to me! Nor the part of why anyone would cook an animal in milk? I suppose water was not available!
January 25, 2014
"However, why give Divine commandments that only exist for a short period of time?"

This is a question I have often asked myself. Doesn't it suggest that G-d works through man and that man is an imperfect medium? G-d doesn't make mistakes, but man does. Divinely inspired men are still just men.

I too would like to know the Orthodox view on this.
Micah T
January 23, 2014
Nothing is outdated if understood in context. Like a truly good movie, the dynamics reveal what's right and wrong in-between the lines. Problem I find is adding practices, as if that's equal to Torah. To cook an animal in the milk created for its nurture is so heartless. To say its wrong to mix fowl and dairy takes the meaning away, since fowl don't nurture their young with milk. Torah is so easy to learn from in real context, not legalistically.
February 8, 2013
Exodus 21:1–24:18 Pagan Warning
I liked this line : "G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants."
Pagan - "morally deficient"
My life became completely messed up because....I started having relationships with pagans. I was young; and I confused it with true love (1st love) Much of the country appears to be similar....and yet God is within it...we just need to keep searching for the same mindset (Israel's) Pledge - one nation under God, "in God we trust". How can we make it a stronger force? It's foundation is beautiful. So often we don't stop "pagan behavior" around us..until it controls just about every step we take
February 8, 2013
When the world is corrupt before G*d all the human institutions and laws of society cannot prevent society, in general, from ruin. The erosion of any social structure is guaranteed with the absence of sanctions imposed by a life oriented towards the goal of holiness. The laws and ordnances transcend time; weather spoken or written.
(Taken from Ezekiel / Artscroll)
South East