Parshah Columnists - Mishpatim

Guest Columnists
Whose Slave Will You Be?
Life Lessons From the Parshah - Mishpatim
A Glass of Milk and a Cup of Kindness
The laws of milk and meat teach us how to balance kindness and discipline.
Halacha = Motion
What to do when you get "stuck in a rut" with regards to Judaism
Gratitude to a Boy Named Christopher (and His Dad)
I decided to overcome my “stranger danger” to tell Christopher’s dad how much I appreciated their kindness, and I complimented him on the fine job he was doing raising his son.
Become a "Half-Shekel"
Parshat Mishpatim
Moses warned the nation as they were on the cusp of entering the Land of Israel to never forget the true source of their wealth and achievement.
The Wedding to the Washing: It’s All in the Details
When I thought about the process, and how quickly the young couple enters the real world, it struck me that this is the way it has been modeled for us by G‑d.
Help the Poor Body!
“In the human being,” explained Rabbi Schneur Zalman, “there are ‘rich’ organs, such as the mind and heart, and ‘poor’ organs, like the stomach. I refuse to remain in a city where they torture the poor!”
Under New Management
The muad in our service of G‑d
The Spirit of the Laws
My dark, curly hair was a constant reminder of my minority status. I never saw this as a negative aspect to my identity. On the contrary, I relished my membership in a global club of Jewish people all over the world . . .
Eating at Mount Sinai
Jews, food, and the giving of the Torah
There’s no such thing as a Jewish event without food, right? So why should the giving of the Torah at Sinai be an exception? An analysis of the celebratory feast at Sinai.
'Til the Lights Go Out
Nourishing our souls, illuminating the world
Torah does not support asceticism, the closed walls of a monastery and a life apart from the bones of the body. We are asked to eat the cookie—or kasha—but to ever remain the master of that act . . .
Divinity Is in the Details
An Essay on Parshat Mishpatim
The contraction that manifests itself in Parshat Mishpatim exists in the nature of the world as well. In our lives, the most profound and uplifting things are found precisely in the mundane details of the daily routine.
Did Maimonides Accept Contemporary Converts as Jewish?
What are the steps that are designed for entering the faith? Can they be done without the temple standing in Jerusalem? And what is the lesson for everyone?
How to Become a Holy People
Why are such exacting measures taken regarding the mixture of meat and milk, and how does it further our mission of becoming a holy nation?
Torah Insights
What Kind of Guard Are You?
The monetary laws of the Torah are more than just utilitarian laws that allow for a functioning society. Just as with all other parts of the Torah, the monetary laws contain deep psychological and spiritual truths
How to Get Rid of Bad Habits and Create Better Ones
What can we learn from the law of the goring ox?
Overcoming NIMBY
Used to describe a person or an attitude, NIMBY is an abbreviation for Not In My Back Yard.
What the Slavery Laws Teach Us
Of all the laws in the Parshah—and there are many—why begin with the “regressive” topic of slavery?
The Party at Sinai
When we think about spiritual experiences, we picture prayer, meditation, or perhaps a solitary walk in nature. Yet that is not how the Torah describes the Jewish people’s experience at the greatest Divine revelation in history, the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
Weekly Sermonette
No Deposit, No Return
Musings on the luftmentsh
Is Religion Still Relevant?
Cyberspace, outer space, inner space. Genome maps, globalization. Smart cards, smart bombs, stem cells and cell phones. . . . Should we still need to subscribe to an ancient code of laws, when we are so further advanced than our ancestors?
Not Yet
If I asked you, "Are you a millionaire?" would you say "no"? Or would you say "not yet"?
As a rule, people don't like rules. We don't like restrictions; we don't like being told what to do
Oxen and Cows
There are four approaches to understanding what the Torah is all about: a) it means what it says; b) it's all a metaphor; c) it should be read from the top down; or d) from the bottom up
Four Excuses
The "That's How G-d Made Me" excuse, the "Sorry I Lost It" excuse, the "I'm Special" excuse, and the "What's the Use" excuse
Not My Job
The fatalist maintains that nothing that anyone does really makes a difference. The activist believes himself to be the master of his fate. The Jew is neither, and both.
Once Upon a Donkey
It was an age of boors and ascetics, a time of conflict between body and soul. Then a master appeared. "Don't beat your beast," he taught, "don't overload him and don't abandon him. Help him"
The Two-Way Mirror
Does G‑d care if I cheat on my taxes? Am I going to be a better husband/wife/parent if I keep kosher? Are these the same question?
For Friday Night
Creating Civilization
What is the purpose of the commandments? One explanation in the teachings of the Sages is: to refine people. The Commandments of the Torah are intended to have a civilizing effect on the Jewish people.
Inspiring Everyday Life
The Divine Loan
The intimate Jewish relationship with G‑d is expressed in the idea that G‑d Himself keeps the laws of the Torah. This teaching helps a person understand how closely we are connected with the Divine...
Reflections on the Parshah
The Purpose of Justice
Our world has succeeded in defining the "rightful" sphere of religious influence, immunizing other aspects of life of the demands and criteria of religion.
The Mitzvah Symphony
Is it possible to understand Torah without a hands-on approach?
Inner Stream
Why Should I?
Why Are Jewish Holidays Pegged to the Agricultural Cycle?
On the face of it, the connection between our festivals and the seasons they are in is tenuous. The festivals celebrate miraculous events, while the seasons during which they fall appear to be coincidental.
The Six Year Bondsman
On the mystical significance of the "Hebrew Slave"
Eyes, Teeth, Temptation
If you strike your slave's eye or tooth, the Torah decrees, the slave goes free. What relavence does this law have in a society that has abandoned the practice of slavery?
Parshah Moment
Intellectuals Enter Here
Mitzvot, the commandments which G-d enjoins upon the people, can be classified into three groups...
Torah for Now
A Matter of Ethics
G‑d inserted the reading of Mishpatim before going back in time to discuss key elements of the narrative of the giving of the Torah. His way of saying: "Before you can receive the Torah fully—study Mishpatim!
What the Rebbe Taught Me
A Hypersensitive People
Can Cooking be an Un-Kosher Act?
Did you know that G-d would rather you cooked pork chops than a cheeseburger? That’s right. There is no biblical injunction against cooking pork—although eating it is absolutely forbidden... But it is forbidden to even cook meat together with milk.
Is It Kosher to Practice Medicine?
In case of illness should one see a doctor or a rabbi, or both?
Parshah Musings
Are You Trapped?
Contemplating Mortality
What has struck me as I sit listening to memories and eulogies is that mourners seem to care about one thing. No matter what people did for a living or the way they passed away, all that everyone left behind wants to talk about is the way they acted toward others.
A Different Kind of Spirituality
You need to grew a long white beard, talk softly, and spend full days in prayer and private worship. At least that's the common notion of "spiritual"
Meat, Milk and Logic
Why to do a mitzvah that makes sense
Guilt vs. Predisposition
Whenever they arrest a murderer or deviant, you can be sure that a fleet of trained mouthpieces will portray the perpetrator as a victim of a miserable childhood or genetic predisposition to violence. Is there truth to these assertions?
Get Thee Away from Falsehood
Why the Torah tells us to distance ourselves from lies
What’s so terrible, anyway? It’s not as if I was intending to harm anyone. Just a little white lie for short-term gain, with no obvious pain to come.
Life Is a Loan
If I Were a Wealthy Man
How do I demonstrate proper gratitude for the gifts with which I have been endowed?
The Young and the Restless
There could be 1,000 people packing every pew, but if there are no young people among them, the congregation is moribund.
A Culture of Dependency
Why does the Torah forbid lending money with interest? The "Culture of Dependency" created by many welfare states can provide some insight in this area...
Living through the Parshah
A Modern World and Ancient Prophecies
When things begin to "make sense"
In 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait to solve Iraq's financial problems, the world was outraged. That kind of move was not considered cool anymore. Something had changed in our moral perceptions.
Weekly Torah
Bearing the Load
Act Now!
Don't Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride!
The Freeman Files
Torah, Slavery and the Jews
Yes, there's tension here, and as every good dramatist and massage therapist knows, tension is a good point to play with
Four Ways to Live a Life
Rent, borrow, own, or maybe you just work here.
Do you rent, borrow, or own your life? Or do you just work here?
A Thought for the Week
Once In Thirteen Years
Obey the Doctor
Parshah Recovery
Don't Ignore Your Body
Although our recovery is based on spiritual principles, this does not imply that we can or should ignore our bodies in the name of spiritual refinement.
Parshah Stories
A Court Case in Shpoli
“It is true,” announced R. Leib, “that according to the law the plaintiff must take his suit to the defendant’s locale; but since in this case ‘there is no place devoid of His presence,’ we will try the case here in Shpoli . . .”
Seventy Kopeks
That's the profit from the sale of a calf in the marketplace of the White Russian town of Lubavitch
Fifty-Year-Old Honey
The entire town would be paying attention to the new rabbi’s first ruling. Everyone was sure to wonder: Why is the law of the Torah so opposite to common sense?
The Blanket
Advice from Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel
We were all looking away; we had not known that he was severely afflicted with Parkinson's disease. Then we heard this big bang on the table: "Gentlemen, look at me, and look at me right now. Who can tell me what the lesson of the Holocaust is?"
The Jewish ABC
A room full of five-year-olds in a Russian cheder learn a new way to read the Alef Bet
A Business Proposal
I returned to my compartment in a state of confusion. The last thing I had expected from the Rebbe was a business tip
Shlomo's Scales
It was a drastic move, but they felt they had no choice. They fasted and recited Psalms all day. Evoking ancient Kabbalistic formulas, they asked to be given a sign that night in their dreams.
The Lawsuit
One Friday afternoon, a man knocked on the door of Rabbi Yizchak Aizik, rabbi of Vitebsk. “I have a din Torah (a matter of litigation),” he said. “I request that you hear my case . . .”
The First Rothschild
The Rabbi found it hard to believe that Anschel Moses might be a thief. Perhaps he had merely borrowed the money...
The Cigarette Beggar
It was rumored that back in Russia, before the Revolution, the Cigarette Beggar had been a wealthy man, with textile factories in Minsk and philanthropic projects all over the world...
A Whisper in Time
As the procession approached the location for the chupah they were encountered by a solitary Jew in a wagon, a stranger that no one recognized....
The Loan
Rabbi Shmuel was very careful in keeping the accounts of the free-loan fund, marking every transaction carefully in his books...
The Witnessing Tree
"Under a tree? Very good!" cried out Rabbi Chaim excitedly. "Go and summon that tree as a witness"
Covenant & Conversation
Loving the Stranger
The Torah asks, why should you not hate the stranger? Because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt.
G-d’s Nudge
If G‑d does not want slavery, if He regards it as an affront to the human condition, why did He not abolish it immediately? Why did He allow it to continue, albeit in a restricted and regulated way?
Doing and Hearing
We seek to understand what we are committing ourselves to before making the commitment.
The Slow End of Slavery
In the Details
Healing the Heart of Darkness
When he first admitted the truth about his Jewish ancestry, one of his friends in the Jobbik party said, “The best thing would be if we shoot you so you can be buried as a pure Hungarian.”
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: Serve G-d and No Other
G-d wants us to be free to serve Him, and not to any other entity
The Redemption Is Becoming a Reality
In this day and age, most of the military is used for helping people around the world, reminiscent of Isaiah’s prophecy about the time of Moshiach.
Life's Passages
Three Short Rules for Successful Relationships
Ever wonder why fresh flowers make such a great gift?
What Do You Think?
My Wife Danced While I Cried
I was going to a funeral. My wife was headed to a sibling’s wedding. On the very same flight!
The Freeman Files
Tzivos Hashem
Do, Then Know
Dressed in G-d's Clothes
Torah is G-d pondering Himself.
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