“And these are the judgments that you shall place before them” - The Jewish Voice
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Monday, July 4, 2022

“And these are the judgments that you shall place before them”

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This Shabbos is called Shabbos Shekalim because we read the Haftorah from Parshas Ki Sisa (Exodus, 30:10)This section of the Torah tells us of the mitzvah of Mahtzes HaShekel, the mandatory donation that every member of the community had to contribute toward the upkeep of the Temple. The wealthy were not allowed to give more, and the poor were not permitted to give less, so that each and every person might feel that he was an equal participant and partner in the maintenance of the Temple.


This week`s portion deals with Laws concerning our interaction with our fellow man, be it in the workplace or in a social venue. “V`aleh Hamishpatim,” – – “And these are the judgments that you shall place before them” (Exodus, 21) are the opening words of the parsha. To commence a sentence, let alone an entire portion with the word “And” is most unusual. Our sages explain that whenever the word “And” is used, it is in order to connect the passage with the previous portion of the Torah. Since we studied about the giving of the Ten Commandments in last week`s parsha, there is a very profound message inherent in this connection. We learn that, even as G-d gave the Ten Commandments at Sinai, so too were the civil laws given at Sinai. Not only are the commandments regulating our relationship with G-d immutable, but so too are the ethical laws upon which our relationships with our fellow man are formulated. There are those who believe that moral and ethical laws are so logical that even had they not been promulgated at Sinai, man would have deduced them on his own. But this is totally erroneous. Firstly, there is no code of behavior that comes even lose to the high standard that the Torah requires of us. Secondly, even on a most elementary level, twenty-first century man has yet to accept “Thou shalt not kill.” From Hitler to Arafat to Bin Laden, it is obvious how desperately man needs G-d to regulate his behavior.

Moreover, the Ten Commandments opens with “I am the L-rd Your G-d.” By placing the laws of business ethics after the Ten Commandments, the Torah teaches us that he who is not ethical in business does not really trust G-d, for if he believed in Divine providence, he would understand that it is G-d who provides, it is He who determines our income and therefore, it is futile to cheat, steal, or give vent to greed. Finally, this connection reminds us that we adhere to our moral and ethical laws, not because they appeal to our logic, but because they were given by G-d and are therefore not subject to change or compromise. They are our eternal guiding light.

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