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Torah Portion

Home > Torah Portion > Dvar for Mishpatim

Dvar for Mishpatim
Exodus 21:1 - 24:18; 30:11-16
by Shlomo Ressler

In Parshat Mishpatim, the Torah goes through all the rules that govern our everyday lives. So detailed are these rules, that it even talks about seeing your ENEMY'S donkey carrying a heavy load, and how we must help (23:5). As Onkelus explains, we have to put away our hatred for the person, and help his donkey with its load. As Rabbi Liebowitz explains (in Majesty of Man) we have to learn to suspend our hatred toward the man, even though that hatred is totally justified (or else it would be wrong to hate, and the Torah wouldn't bring it up)! How can the Torah expect us to stop hating someone just long enough to help their donkey, and then go back to hating them again? And if the point is to help your enemy, why does the Torah find a case specifically involving the person's donkey, and not a case involving the 'evil' person himself?

One way to explain it is that it's human nature that the more we feel and care about something, the better we take care of it. However, too often we get caught up caring too much about our OWN feelings. This Mitzvah (commandment) is the ultimate exercise in working on this tendency. We may have a legitimate reason for feeling a certain way, but if it prevents us from doing what's right, we must suspend our feelings and do the right thing. This exercise in suspending our personal feelings is why the Torah uses a case of a 'hated' man. The donkey is used to make us realize that our actions and feelings toward others affect more then just them and us, but even those AROUND us, and can even affect our animals! Although we don't see it all the time, we affect our surroundings more then we know, which is something we need to be constantly aware of. The lesson from the Torah is that doing what's right sometimes means doing it for someone that's wrong, because you never know whom you'll change in the process!

Quotation of the Week (thanks to Shuli, again):
"Just because no one has been fortunate enough to realize what a gold mine you are, doesn't mean you shine any less." - Shuli's Jason

Have an amazingly terrific Shabbat!!!!!!

Shlomo Ressler


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