Parsha of the week

Mishpatim ("ordinances")

Exodus 21:1-24:18

God legislates a series of laws for the people of Israel following the revelation at Sinai. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the "Four Guardians"; and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.

Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; and the mitzvah of prayer. Altogether, Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot: 23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions.

God promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.

The Israelites proclaim, "We will do and we will hear all that God commands us." Leaving Aaron in charge in the Israelite camp, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from God.

Rabbi Robbi