Sunday, February 11, 2007

Summary Mishpatim

This week's Torah reading lists many of the damage and interpersonal laws. Some of the laws given are those concerning manslaughter and murder, kidnapping and stealing, injuring or cursing a parent, personal injury or damages, and killing or injuring slaves. The nation are also given laws concerning animals, damage by grazing, or by fire, the laws of custodians, and money lending. Other laws include those dealing with a man who seduces a woman, occult practices, and idolatry. We are commanded not to oppress widows or orphans and are obligated to lend money to the poor. We must accept the authority of the judges, bring the first of our produce and animals to G-d, and not pervert the system of justice. We are instructed to return lost objects and help unload an animal that is unable to carry its burden.
We are given the laws of Sh'mita, when we let the land lie fallow every seventh year. We are instructed not to oppress converts, and are told the laws of Shabbat and the three agricultural festivals. G-d tells us that He will send an angel before us to lead us into Israel, and warns us of the dangers and temptations that will face us once we enter the land. G-d promises to bless us and our children, and to help us conquer the Land of Israel.
Moshe relates all of these laws to the rest of the nation, and they unconditionally accept them. Moshe and the people offer sacrifices as a sign that they have entered into a covenant with G-d to accept the Torah.
The Parsha ends with the conclusion of the Receiving of the Torah. G-d calls Moshe to ascend Mount Sinai. The nation watch as he ascends into the clouds and smoke which cover the mountain top. Moshe remains there for forty days and nights.

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