This week’s Torah portion is called “Mishpatim” meaning “Laws or Ordinances” given to the Israelites.* They include laws governing lost property, holidays, damages, holidays and indentured servants to name a few. These civil laws enabled the Israelites to learn to live as free people in a just society. All they had known was slavery.
The main purpose of these laws was to bring the spirit of the Ten Commandments into everyday life. How would they be applied in situations that would arise? the basis of many of these laws can be found in our legal system. For example, the person who caused harm, injury or death to the person or property of another, faced a considerable range of consequences depending on whether it was an intentional act or of negligence.
Following these laws was considered to be a contractual agreement between G-D and the nation of Israel. There was always the reminder: “You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep [his laws]” (Deut. 5:15).”
The laws were meant to develop compassion within the people. For example, “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Lev. 19:33-34).”
The Zohar, considered to be the bible of Kabbalistic mysticism, explains these are cosmic laws. In the journey of our souls we understand that in no longer being ruled by Egypt, the place of the ego, we now live in a higher state which requires a different operating system. These laws, so revolutionary for their time, are meant to bring holiness to the mundane, to bring us to the spiritual realm of the Divine in every aspect of our lives.
By tapping into or aligning with the energy of Mishpatim we can receive help to more fully bring the intention of these laws into our daily lives.