Parshat Mishpati

(Shabbat Shekalim)

(Exodus 21:1-24:18)

(Haftara: Melachim 2, 11:17-12:17)

  1. [21:37] “…(the thief) will pay 5 cows for stealing a cow, and 4 sheep for stealing a sheep.” The Talmud tells us that the Torah makes the thief pay more for stealing a cow because a cow can do work and the Torah is showing us that it values work. If the Torah values physical work so much, why isn’t there a commandment telling us that we must work physically?
  1. [22:17] “Don’t allow a witch to live”. A witch tries to manipulate forces so that desirable things will happen in the world. We try to persuade God in prayer to make desirable things happen. We understand that what a witch does is a negative thing, but why is his or her punishment so severe?
  1. [21:28] When a person’s animal maliciously damages someone else’s property, the owner of the animal pays for half of the damage the first 3 times, and then the full damage every time after that. What might be the reason for this law? Does it sound just to you?
  1. [22:30] “Be holy to me and don’t eat any meat from an animal that was killed by a predator in the field…” What does being holy have to do with not eating this type of meat?
  1. [23:5] “When you see your enemy’s donkey suffering under its load…” What quality of personality is the Torah trying to develop in us by telling us to help our “enemy”? Why is this quality worth developing?


God wants people to serve Him in all ways and situations…A person might be travelling and cannot pray or learn. He should serve God in other ways…because God wants to be served in all ways…Therefore a person may find himself on the road or speaking to people–in order to serve God in that particular situation.

–R. Yisrael, Ba’al Shem Tov, 1700-1760, Ukraine.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer


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