Mishpatim, the name of this week’s Torah reading, means “judgments.” Our Rabbis explain that this term refers to those commandments that can be comprehended by human logic, i.e., the Torah’s laws for business practices, family relations, and communication between people.

It’s a very important lesson for many just to know that such laws exist. Many think of Judaism as a synagogue religion, a faith which requires us to go to a holy place, the synagogue - on holy days, Shabbos and holidays, and watch holy people, the Rabbi and the cantor, say holy prayers. The very opposite is true. The bulk of the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, has nothing to do with synagogue worship. Instead, it deals with living Jewishly in our everyday lives, conducting ourselves according to G‑d’s will within the down-to-earth realities that we confront at home, in our work-places, and in our relations with others.

These activities should be carried out as mishpatim, the Torah’s directives, rather than as merely human activities. Most people have good intentions and they try to live morally and ethically. But Judaism gives us the potential for more than this. The Torah gives us an objective standard of ethical conduct determined by G‑d. It is not man who decides whether or not something is good, ethical, or just.

That’s very important. For mortal standards of justice can lead to error; after all, look at what the most sophisticated country in the world did in the last century. The leader of civilization, the master of science, culture, and philosophy perpetrated the most hideous atrocities in history - and all in the name of humanity’s advancement.

Moreover, the positive advantages of living the way G‑d desires are far more impressive than the negation of undesirable factors. There is no more effective approach to living a life of meaning, depth and happiness than following the directives which G‑d Himself gave us.