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God is in the details


Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It's already Thursday and we have yet to speak about this week's Torah portion of Mishpatim. Here are some words from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz regarding this parasha:

"The most astonishing aspect of parashat Mishpatim . . . is the parasha itself. How can it be that we transition from the dramatic Revelation at Mount Sinai to a parasha that contains 53 mitzvot that apply to every area of ordinary life? How is it possible to follow the giving of the Torah with instructions regarding how to treat your donkey or how you should be compensated if someone breaks your tooth?

In fact, in order to do great things we need to begin with the smallest details. Only in this way are we able to create meaning and make the Revelation at Mount Sinai a part of our daily lives.

As opposed to the saying that the ends justify the means, the Torah calls upon us to see things differently and proclaim: 'The means justify the ends.' We take the power and the glory of Mount Sinai -- the thunder and the lightning -- and bring this transformative spirit into mitzvot pertaining to the marketplace, the home, the bank, and the car.

We are accustomed to raise our eyes toward heaven when we speak about God, but parashat Mishpatim teaches us that God is to be found also in the cash we carry, in the apple we eat, and in the way we relate to the parking lot attendant. Look around you now and, if you try, you will see Him everywhere, in everything."


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