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by Daneal Weiner

May the zchus of this Torah be a Refua Shlaima for
Tamar Tema bas Leah Devorah, her family and friends.

Parshas Mishpatim

There are three basic categories under which Hashem’s commandments fall. Mitsvos, chukim and mishpatim, Mitsvos are Jewish things we do for which we are given reasons. Chukim are Jewish things we do for which we were given no reasons. Mishpatim are things we do that any civil society would legislate for the sake of social order. The definition usually stops there. Along comes the first Rashi in

Parshas Mishpatim,

on the opening words (21:1), "V'aileh hamishpatim"- And these are the ordinances, and he says the reason the parsha begins with ‘And’ is to connect it to last weeks parsha, specifically to the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Even though mishpatim may look like laws which any society would legislate, they aren't. They are completely different. They are the will of Hashem! They are all part of the living Torah! Society is obligated to raise itself to their standards, not to bring the mishpatim down to theirs.

A new comer to Torah and mitsvos once asked me about his feeling a lack of spirituality. He was blown away with how Judaism directs our actions morning, noon and night. How to wake up, how to dress, how to eat, how to sleep! So where is the hike in the woods? When do we climb a mountain and meditate? How do we touch base with our karma and synergize with all Jews, transcending our corporeal existence's in order to become one with the universe which is becoming one with G-d? I said to him, OK, first I slapped him to snap him out of it and then I said to him, "V'aileh hamishpatim!"

He's been programmed to think the do's and don't's of society are physical social functions and spirituality is something entirely outside of it. A box one steps into or avoids. How much less connected to anything spiritual would the routine, mundane actions of day to day life be. So if he’s not a Tibetan mountain goat or head shorn and dancing in an airport he's missing out on a spiritual high. Where is Judaism’s high? "V'aileh hamishpatim!"

I explained Judaism teaches that EVERY action, every flex of a muscle towards every action has the potential to be spiritual. Even sleeping! Even waking up! Even putting on shoes! If we do it the way Jewish law prescribes then we take the mundane and make it holy! Then putting on a shoe becomes G-d’s will. Which shoe he ties first will bring him closer or take him farther from Hashem! Unbelievable! Unimaginable! It's our job to get the high from that. We have to de-program our misplaced emotional attachments from foreign influences and re-connect them to reality. Every minute of the day we can know we are doing the will of and bringing ourselves closer to Hashem. What could be greater or feel greater than that? Granted, reaching that level takes work. In the meantime, Hashem knows what He’s created and He’s given us mitsvos and chukim, laws that seem outside of the routine to which it’s easier to attach a sense of spirituality. Still numb? The Holidays and especially Shabbos are times for a strong sense of transcendence. But that also has to be earned.

I was certainly talking to myself then as I am now. I may put on the right shoe first and my day may be filled with more prayer and study then his but has it become rote or am I feeling my Torah and mitsvos? "V'aileh hamishpatim!" Thanks, Rashi, for the reminder.

According to the Arizal, Parshas Mishpatim is the last parsha of the 6 weeks of Shovevim, an acronym of the first letters of the first 6 parshas of the book of Shemos. Just as these 6 parshas tell of the miracles and providence from Hashem in taking our ancestors from the spiritual depths of Egypt to the heights of the Revelation at Sinai, so are these 6 weeks energized with that same Divine providence for us to tap into. It is a time ripe for strengthening ourselves in the many facets of our serving Hashem. And after the new spiritual heights are reached, after all the wonders and miracles of the first 5 parshas, this last parsha says, "Hey, as you now go back into the routine, remember, non of it is routine. V'aileh hamishpatim! Even the ‘law of the land’ is actually part of the wonders and miracles of Hashem."

This year, 5760, is a leap year and according to the Shlah Hakadosh Shovevim becomes Shovevim-Tot, adding to the acronym from the first 6 parshas the first letters of the next two parshas, Teruma and Tetsaveh. Tshuva season has been extended two more weeks! But even if Parshas Mishpatim sometimes doesn’t end the Shovevim, there is one thing it will always do. It will always welcome in the month of Adar! Adar means good news and bad news. The Jewish way is to give the bad news first.

Not only are the positive Torah energies everlasting but so are the negative. And Torah is spelled T-A-N-A-C-H. Whether from the 5 books or the 24, if it was written down for all generations and all times then the influences spoken then are with us now. In the Book of Esther, Haman comes to the king (the King) with the complaint, “Yeshno am echad mefuzar u’meforad”- There is a certain people scattered and dispersed. That complaint comes before the King every year! Oy! Chazal- Our Sages look at the word yeshno and see yoshnim- sleeping. That Amalekeit, Haman, the chariot of the force of impurity in the world, comes before the King of kings every year and charges that Israel is sleeping in their observance of mitsvos. That is Amaleik’s eternal allegation against Israel. We just read a couple weeks ago that Amaleik came to attack the Jews in Refidim. The place was called Refidim, according to the Midrash Mechilta, because its root is rafu as in rafu yadeihem min hatorah- They weakened their grip on Torah. They Jews were sleeping on the job. We sleep, Amaleik attacks.

So that was the bad news. What’s the good news? Adar means Purim!!! “And on the 13th day of the 12th month, the month of Adar…on that very day that the enemies of the Jews expected to gain the upper hand over them, it was turned about!” (Megilas Esther 9:1) To counter Amaleik’s accusation Hashem gave us Purim and its power of reversal of fortune. As a matter of fact, Chazal recommend that if has befallen upon anyone that they are being dragged into the gentile courts near the time of Adar, change the court date to within Adar. On Yom Kippur we are not afraid to stand before Hashem and asked to be judged, nor are we now. So we enter Adar with, “V'aileh hamishpatim!”- And these are the judgements! King David wrote, to comfort the righteous from the slander and aspersions cast by the wicked (37:5-6), “Trust in Hashem and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness like a light and your justice like high noon.” If King David wrote it then, it still works now! And speaking of high noon…

King David also wrote in Psalm 64, “A sun and a shield Hashem.” Hashem is compared to the sun. Knessess Yisrael- the Assembly of Israel is compared to the moon. The Pri Tsaddik, based on this Psalm, agrees with the Shlah Hakadosh regarding Shovevim-Tot. Just as the moon chases after the sun, so does Knessess Yisrael chase after Hashem. During a leap year, when the moon is farthest from the sun, indicating Israel has not yet atoned for its failing, along comes the month of Adar, and we add two more weeks to Shovevim to allow time to complete the restitution. What is the failing of the moon?

In the beginning Hashem created two great luminaries in the sky. At this point they are equal. Immediately thereafter the Torah tells us Hashem placed the greater one to dominate the day and the lesser one to dominate the night. What happened? The ‘other sun’ came before Hashem and said, “Can two kings wear one crown?” Does little Earth need two suns (Wink-wink, nudge-nudge)? Hashem said, “You’re right. YOU be small!” Not only did Hashem diminish its size, He diminished orbit. Even before there was a Jew who could chose to sin the moon was already destined to chase after the sun. And the moon was destined to renew itself and so is Knessess Yisrael destined for renewal.

For the new moon a se’ir- male goat is brought as a sin offering. Often does the Torah designate a se’ir. Yet in the Gemorah Chullin, Reish Lakish asks, “What is different about the se’ir of the new moon?” It answers that regarding it Hashem says, “It will be an atonement for Me for having diminished the moon.” But the Pri Tsaddik said we are trying to make restitution for the moon! It turns out that we are making the amends that Hashem has taken upon Himself to make! Measure for measure, what we do for Hashem, Hashem does for us. When Adar comes and the moon has fallen far behind we leap the year and bring it close. When Adar comes and Amaleik says we’ve fallen far behind Hashem makes a “shnas ratsone l’Hashem”- a year of favor unto Hashem (Isaiah 61:2) and brings us close. Every morning in Uva l’tsion we say, “u’l’shavei fesha”- and to those who repent from willful sin, representing the words we add in the Rosh Chodesh Musaf during a leap year, u’l’caparas pesha- and for an atonement from willful sin. Shnas ratsone l’Hashem = 1162 = Teruma Tetsaveh. Shavei fesha = 762 = Adar Rishone- the first Adar.

The Zohar on V'aileh hamishpatim says here are the secrets of reincarnation! Commentaries ask what the connection is? The book Degel Machaneh Efraim writes, “Sometimes the Beis Din- Jewish court will obligate a man to pay another when he knows that he is innocent. Don’t ask how the Torah law would obligate an innocent man. It must be he was guilty from a past life and the time has come for him to make restitution.” So the Zohar attaches the message of reincarnation to “And these are the judgements” so that we realize the true justice of Torah law.

This is precisely the lesson the Ba’al Shem Tov wanted to teach when he sent the Magid to a particular sight to behold the events to take place, warning him not to say a single word! The Magid went and watched from a distance as young man came into sight. The man stopped to rest under a tree. He rose to continue his journey not realizing his coin purse had fallen to the ground. Shortly thereafter a second man came to that place and was much delighted to find a small treasure at the foot of the tree. After he left a poor man was weary from his travels and stopped to rest under the very same tree. To his dismay, an angry young man disturbed his rest and demanded the return of his coin purse. The poor man said he had no idea what he was talking about. Not believing him, the young man began to beat the poor man so he’d confess his crime. The Magid wanted to shout out his innocence but he remembered the stern warning of the Ba’al Shem Tov and remained silent. The Magid returned to the Ba’al Shem Tov and asked him to explain the injustice he had just witnessed.

It was not an injustice at all. In the past the poor man was a judge who had before him a case involving the first two men. Had he been G-d fearing and discerning he would have looked into the law deeply and discovered the truth. Instead he capriciously awarded the case to the guilty party. The time had come for the three men to come together once again. The money was returned to its rightful owner and the judge was punished for the desecration he brought to the Beis Din. “V'aileh hamishpatim!” The returning of lost money to its rightful owner, a fundamental definition of the Yovel- Jubilee year when all things return to their rightful place.

When Yaakov decided to go back for the small vessels of oil he left behind, could it be a man whom Chazal say had 600,000 sheep needed those few measures of oil? Certainly not! We learn from Yaakov that the possessions Hashem gives us are part of us. An extension of our soul. Adding to what we said in the beginning, not only can every muscle we move be in service of Hashem but every object we own is an integral part of that service. When we give money we earn to charity, we elevate our money and we elevate ourselves. Chazal were not voicing anti-Semitic propaganda when they said, “One who robs another’s money is like stealing his soul.”

V'aileh hamishpatim!”- And these are the judgements. One who steals, thereby enslaving the soul of another, measure for measure he, himself, is enslaved to another. And it doesn’t end there. An extension of him, his seed, may also be taken and given to a gentile maidservant and their children remain to the master.

Rav Wolfson once said, on the topic of every Jew being spiritually rooted in a letter in the Torah, that no matter how far from Torah a Jew is, not one will leave this earth without giving over an insight related to their source in the Torah. I didn’t include it when I first read it because I couldn’t fathom it. After learning this last adage of Chazal, “One who robs another’s money is like stealing his soul” I think I understand. It must have been that rooted spark of his Jewish soul which lead Jack Benny to his unknowing revelation of this kabbalistic concept when he was asked, “Your money or your life!?” To which he responded, “Wait a minute. I’m thinking it over!” After the chuckle, wait a minute and think it over.

The parsha continues that after 6 years of servitude the slave returns to his rightful place. If the slave says, “Lo aitsay chofshee”- I will not go free, and he chooses to continue serving the Torah says his ear is pierced and he remains a slave l’olam- forever! The fool would rather serve a servant of the King than serve the King Himself? Let him stay! Chazal teach l’olam means till the Yovel year because levilti yidach mimenu nidach- no one is indefinitely banished from Hashem. The power of the Yovel is to send everything back to its rightful place. And as the Zohar added, even if it does not happen this time around, it will happen the next time around. “V'aileh hamishpatim!”- And these are the judgements. Financial judgements. Because returning money to its source is returning ones soul to its source. Aileh hamishpatim = 520 = Teeyeh ladonehah- It will be to it’s owner.

In last week’s parsha Yisro saw Moshe sitting and judging and said it wasn’t good. Moshe would tire out. He can’t do it alone. He should discern from the people men who are G-d fearing, men of truth and who despise money to help sit in judgement. On ‘discern’ Rashi says, “With Divine inspiration.” And Yisro concludes that with his advice will everyone should arrive at their destination in peace.

Rav Wolfson asks a few questions. If Moshe could circumcise every male of Israel in one night, it’s unlikely a but a few thousand court cases will tire him. Why would Yisro think otherwise?

The spiritual leaders of Israel have always shown themselves by being the ones the masses seek to hear their opinion. The secular Israeli media, for example, sometimes attempts to predict some yahoo as being an upcoming Torah representative based on their non-Torah standards, him trying to get into the public eye. A number of years later their prediction has fallen flat and some Rav passes away, Heaven forbid, whom they’ve never heard of and it boggles their mind when 300,000 people attend the funeral procession. Why does Yisro suggest Moshe uses Divine inspiration to appoint judges?

We have a tradition of not saying to one another, “Tsaitschem b’shalom” but “Tsaitschem l’shalom”- Not “Go in peace” but “Go to peace.” Why? Because shalom, shares the root with shaleim which means ‘whole’. Our life long mission is to achieve spiritual Sh’leimus- wholeness. To say, “Go in wholeness” means “You did your job. Drop dead.” Saying, “Go to wholeness” means “Go on with your mission. Hope to see you again.” Why did Yisro conclude saying everyone should arrive at their destination in peace?

Rav Wolfson answer’s that Yisro wasn’t questioning Moshe’s ability right now. Yisro has learned some ways by which Hashem runs His world. Everything in the Torah is for every generation. Moshe was going to be reincarnated as a leader in every generation. In those lifetimes he will not have the strength to judge alone! Heneeds Divine inspiration to appoint judges from that generation whom Hashem would return to the world in future generations as G-d fearing, truthful and not greedy people. [Interesting that Moshe chose men of accomplishment!] And now it’s easy to understand why Yisro said b’shalom and not l’shalom. Because he was referring to times when they would already have died. Moshe did as his father-in-law suggested and, indeed, the Torah testifies (18:26), “And they judged the people at all times.”

V'aileh hamishpatim! The judgements of money and soul. The judgements for this life if not the last or the next. The judgements of Yovel which will return everyone and everything to their rightful place. The judgements about which Yisro said, “Everyone should arrive at their destination in peace.” Lo aitsay chofshee- I will not go free = 521 = V’shavu vanim ligvulam- Your children will return to their borders. Yes they will go free. (Yirmiah 31:17 telling us a promise Hashem made to Rachel.)

The gematria milui (adding the numeric values of the spelling of each letter of the word) of Mishpatim is; (mem) mem+mem + (shin) shin+yud+nun + (peh) peh+aleph + (tes) tes+sav + (yud) yud+vav+daled + (mem) mem+mem = 1030 = Acharai nimkar ge’ula tihiyeh lo- after he is sold there will be for him a redemption.

Yovel x Yovel (without the vav, as the word is spelled the majority of the time) = 42x42 = 1764 = v’chashav machashavos levilti yidach mimenu nidach- [Let the King] ponder thoughts that no one be banished from Him forever.

Adar, when we bring the moon close to the sun and bring ourselves close to Hashem, is a preparation for Nissan. Nissan, as it is written in the Book for all generations and all times, was when we were first redeemed. It is the time with the greatest potential for the coming redemption. In preparation we read about the Yovel. Yovel and Nissan, when the slaves return to the rightful place. When those banished and scattered are gathered back in. Yovel, we said, is hidden behind the world l’olam. L’olam = 170 = Nissan. The gematria milui of l’olam; (lamed) lamed+mem+daled + (ayin) ayin+yud+nun + (lamed) lamed+mem+daled + (mem) mem+mem = 358 = Mashiach!

The gematria milui of yovel (with the vav); (yud) yud+vav+daled + (vav) vav+vav + (veis) veis+yud+sav + (lamed) lamed+mem+daled = 518 = Chodesh Adar Aleph- first month of Adar.

This is the when we need to nullify the allegations of Amaleik! We need to run to do mitsvos. Even better, we need to do them with happiness. As Chazal put it, “Mi shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha!”- One who brings in Adar should increase their happiness. We need to remember about each other that no one is banished from Hashem forever. We need to remember about ourselves that we not be banished from Hashem at all! What takes us from Hashem? Jealousy, physical desires and chasing honor! May our efforts merit us, measure for measure, that Hashem is v’chashav machashavos levilti yidach mimenu nidach and merit a Shnas ratsone l’Hashem!

What an extra special year this that we merited the new month starting on Sunday. This means we get to read a special haftorah for just this occasion which begins with the words, “Tomorrow is the new moon.” May it be not just a new moon but THE new moon. A new moon restored to its former glory. A new Knessess Yisrael restored to her former glory. And as we say Shabbos morning when we bless the new month, may Hashem renew it upon us and upon all Israel, in any place we may be, for all good physical things and all good spiritual things which will help us achieve our wholeness. May we hear good tidings, may all our infirm become healed and may the redemption be close at hand.

I can only say this because King David had said it and it has written it in the Book of Psalms, for all generations and all times. Psalm 17, another prayer likened to Adar. A reversal of fortune. A prayer in which he requests absolution from guilt only because of the many righteous deeds he’s performed.

Hear, Hashem, what is righteous, attend to my plea. Give ear to my prayer from lips without deceit. May Tamar Tema bas Leah Devorah’s judgement be dismissed from before You. Your eyes behold uprightness. She works all day with honesty and integrity because You are before her always. She gives her free time to tend to Your troubled, Your poor and Your destitute. She collects for sheltering, for clothing for feeding, for healing. She lends an ear to those who ask. She looks to bring guests to her table. She longs to draw close to You Your children who have strayed. And what does she ask for in return? For her families health? To see her children married? To see them and their children walk in Your ways? We call out to You because You will answer us! Withdraw Your kindness from the wicked and give it to those who seek refuge in You.

Though the Sabbath prohibits us from crying out, may a recovery come speedily. May the power of Adar bring a reversal of fortune for the following and for all Knessess Yisrael.

Tamar Tema bas Leah Devorah

Shmuel ben Esther

Yafa Alissa bas Tamar Tema

Yoseph Moshe ben Leah Devorah

Devorah Sarah bas Perel Raizel

Rachel bas Sarah

Rivkah bas Perel

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