The Key For The Upcoming Elections: Parashat Mishpatim
If you want to learn the essence of Judaism according to the Torah don’t miss Parashat Mishpatim!
In general terms we can conclude that the 10 commandments (that we just read last week) are the expression or the attempt to create a universal order. But this week we walk into a higher resolution; suddenly the picture has thousands of pixels establishing the basis of what later will be the “Mishpat Ivri” – the Hebrew Law.
It is a long list of laws with a contents about how to create a righteous society.
Let me Share with you some samples:
Exodus Chapters 21-22-23
The first attempt to create a balance between harm and punishment ….
21:24 ”an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot”
Two stages in taking responsibility for your property which may be risky to others…
21:28 And if a bull gores a man or a woman and [that one] dies, the bull shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, and the owner of the bull is clear.
29. But if it is a [habitually] goring bull since yesterday and the day before yesterday, and its owner had been warned, but he did not guard it, and it puts to death a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and also its owner shall be put to death.
Another example of the same: You broke you pay!
21:33 And if a person opens a pit, or if a person digs a pit and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it,
34 the owner of the pit shall pay; he shall return money to its owner, and the dead body shall be his.
Pay for what you use!
22:4 If a man leads his animals into a field or a vineyard, or lets his animal loose and it eats in another’s field, the best of his field or the best of his vineyard he shall pay.
So how to treat the “stranger”? (which means the non-Jew)
22:20. And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
What about those who are socially weaker?
22:21. You shall not oppress any widow or orphan.
You get a message from God:
22:22. If you oppress him, [beware,] for if he cries out to Me, I will surely hear his cry.
What about helping others to “move forward”, No interest!
22:24. When you lend money to My people, to the poor person [who is] with you, you shall not behave toward him as a lender; you shall not impose interest upon him.
What about power division? Statehood?
22:27. You shall not curse a judge, neither shall you curse a prince among your people.
23:1. You shall not accept a false report; do not place your hand with a wicked person to be a false witness.
Individual thinking, peace seeking sensitivity and kindness…..
23:2. You shall not follow the majority for evil, and you shall not respond concerning a lawsuit to follow many to pervert [justice].
Ethics are ethics also with regard to your enemies!
23:4. If you come upon your enemy’s bull or his stray donkey, you shall surely return it to him.5 If you see your enemy’s donkey lying under its burden would you refrain from helping him? You shall surely help along with him.
8. You shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe will blind the clear sighted and corrupt words that are right.
9. And you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, since you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Shabbat for everyone!
12. Six days you may do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, in order that your ox and your donkey shall rest, and your maidservant’s son and the stranger shall be refreshed.
On March 17th Israel is going to choose its leaders again. The climate is very tense and the political discussion is focussed on the accusations of who is a traitor and who is loyal…. Who is a real Zionist and who is “selling” Israel for cheap.
All this is surrounded by the fact that in less than a year 6 High commandants were fired from the Israeli police under the accusation of sexual abuse (most of them admitted the charges) and the the State Controller has announced in advance the existence of big irregularity that his office has discovered. The latter will be published in the State Controller statement next week, although Netanyahu’s administration has asked to postpone it till after the elections.
In the midst of this sea of confusion, and as we reconnect it with parashat hashavua, you’re probably asking yourself what should I vote or what my position should be.
The bad news: Povesham is not going to tell you which party to choose.
The good news: We have a good idea about how to start to face this next elections.
The state of Israel was created to offer a National house to the Jewish people, right?
Here is the base of our idea: we need to assure the continuity of this house remembering two basic elements.
The first one is physical existence…. Security, bitachon…
With this said let’s try to focus in number 2:
The reason – why do we want a Jewish state? Because we want to express Jewish values…. If you promise my existence but in order to achieve this you forget our identity (Jews with all the values that we just reminded) then something will indeed exist but it won’t be me or us but something else….
So what we need is a mix between Jewish body and Jewish spirit…..
When Menachem Begin first stepped into the Prime minister’s office he met at the gate some reporters; surprisingly he stopped for a second and asked them, is there something that you would like to ask? Then one of the reporters said “which style of a prime minister are you going to be’’?
A good Jewish Prime Minister!
The pursuit of Justice, seeking peace, being sensitive to the “stranger”, empowering the democratic institutions, social and civil rights, human rights, ministerial responsibility, moral integrity, honesty, statehood, taking care of the weak – all those are Jewish values!
We should refuse the attempt of adjusting these fundamental values to a party or to right-wing or left-wing ideas, because they are not! They should be the spiritual base of our existence.
So even if no one can promise the entire package in this elections, try to think: who are those you feel are most committed to their search? Those who still believe in our dream of being a free People in the land of Israel?
Let’s try to end the despair and to vote\support hope….
Let’s try to be good Jews and let’s support such Jews as well.