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Mishpatim(Exodus 21-24)

Mishpatim 5759

GOOD MORNING! An English professor wrote on the blackboard the words "WOMAN WITHOUT HER MAN IS NOTHING" and asked his students to punctuate it correctly. Men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing." Women wrote: "Woman! Without her, man is nothing."

Did you ever wonder what the world would be like without Judaism and the Jewish People? Paul Johnson, a noted historian did. In his book, History of the Jews, he wrote:

"One way of summing up 4,000 years of Jewish history is to ask ourselves what would have happened to the human race if Abraham had not been a man of great sagacity or if he had stayed in Ur and kept his higher notions to himself and no specific Jewish people had come into being. Certainly the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place.

"Humanity might eventually have stumbled upon all the Jewish insights, but we cannot be sure. All the great conceptual discoveries of the intellect seem obvious and inescapable once they have been revealed, but it requires a special genius to formulate them for the first time. The Jews had this gift.

"To them (the Jews) we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human, of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person, of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an abstract ideal and love as the foundation of justice and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind. Without the Jews, it might have been a much emptier place."

Mark Twain was also impressed by the Jews and wondered how they impacted the world:

"If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers." - "Concerning The Jews," Harper's Magazine

Aish HaTorah's Rabbi Kenneth Spiro has developed a new seminar, "WorldPerfect -- The Jewish Contribution to Civilization." It dramatically and entertainingly demonstrates how the Jewish people and the Torah ideas and ideals have changed the world. One leaves the seminar prouder of being a Jew and with a better understanding of how we have helped civilize the world.

The seminar is being offered around the world. To find out when a seminar will be held in your area -- or to arrange a seminar, contact Aish HaTorah's Discovery office, 718-376-2775 or discovery@aish.edu. For more about other Aish's seminars, check out www.aish.edu .


Torah Portion of the Week
Mishpatim

One of the longest Torah portions containing 23 positive commandments and 30 negative precepts. Included are laws regarding: the Hebrew manservant and maidservant, manslaughter, murder, injuring a parent, kidnapping, cursing a parent, personal injury, penalty for killing a slave, personal damages, injury to slaves, categories of damages and compensatory restitution, culpability for personal property damage, seduction, occult practices, idolatry, oppression of widows, children and orphans.

The portion continues with the laws of: lending money, not cursing judges or leaders, tithes, first-born sons, justice, returning strayed animals, assisting the unloading of an animal fallen under its load, Sabbatical year, Shabbat, the Three Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot & Succot).

Mishpatim concludes with the promise from the Almighty to lead us into the land of Israel, safeguard our journey, ensure the demise of our enemies and guarantee our safety in the land -- if we uphold the Torah and do the mitzvot. Moses makes preparations for himself and for the people and then ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

 

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

If one damages another person, he must pay for the doctor bills, as the Torah states, "And he shall be healed."

The Talmud Bavli (Brochos 60a) derives from here the principle that one is obligated in a serious situation to consult with a doctor to be healed and not just wait for a miracle.

The Chozeh of Lublin, a great rabbi, commented that a doctor only has permission to heal. He does not have the right to give up hope or cause a person to despair of his situation. Even though a doctor's experience may lead him to conclude that his patient will not recover, the Almighty has the final say about the a person's recovery. Never give up hope. There are plenty of people who have lived for many years after doctors have said that they would not get well. Seek the best medical care, pray and trust in G-d.

Published: January 18, 2000

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