Roy Neuberger - Feb. 01, 2019

And now we enter a new world.


Up to this point in the Torah we have enjoyed the exalted company of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, Abraham Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rochel and Leah. We have been privileged to accompany these shining tzaddikim as they brought sanctity into the world through the greatest spiritual accomplishments in history. Now, through their greatness, we have arrived at Mount Sinai. We begin the intense study of Torah, with Moses, our Teacher, as our guide. 


As we begin the Portion of Mishpatim, I want to point out one incredible lesson that we can learn right here at the transition point. This Portion begins by teaching many laws, but precisely at “shishi,” the sixth aliyah, the subject matter changes. Here the Torah proceeds to discuss the future entry into the Land of Israel with the words “Behold! I send an angel before you, to protect you on the way, and to bring you to the place that I have made ready.” (Exodus 23:20)


We learn here that the entire success in the Land to which Hashem is leading us is based on our performance of the mishpatim, the ordinances that He has given us, to which we said, “Kol asher diber Hashem … everything that Hashem has spoken, we will do and we will obey.” (ibid 24:7) We also learn the indelible connection between the Law and the Land. The People of Israel, the Land of Israel and Torah are One.


Where along the way did we forget this? How is it that we think we can succeed in the Land unless we perform the mishpatim? Up to this very day, people are saying, “What strategy can we employ for peace? Why does the world hate us?”


My friends, the entire lesson is right here, in this week’s Torah Portion! As we say every day in the Shema, “Place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul … in order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the ground that Hashem has sworn to your ancestors to give them….”


What is wrong with us, that we cause our own misfortune and trouble! In this week’s Haftara we hear these fearsome words: “Therefore …says Hashem, [since] you did not hearken to Me to proclaim freedom … I proclaim you to be free … for the sword, the for the plague and for the famine, and I shall make you an object of trepidation for all the kingdoms of the earth!”


Have we not witnessed this? It is crystal clear that our only salvation is through allegiance to Hashem and His mishpatim. And now that we, the descendants of the Generation of the Desert, thousands of years later, are groping in the terrible darkness of Exile, nothing has changed. The lessons are as urgent as they were when these words were written.


“So says Hashem, ‘Were it not for My covenant … then I might abominate the offspring of Jacob and Dovid ….” We can still heed the ancient words! We can reestablish sanctity and peace! Hashem remembers His children’s children forever, and, in the end, we will remember! “For I shall bring back their captivity and show them mercy.” (ibid) May we merit to see it soon in our days!


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