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Turning on the ligh

הרב יעקב אדלשטיין זצ"ל
צילום: יעקב כהן, פלאש90

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin 

The most amazing aspect of parashat Mishpatim is, indeed, its many mishpatim or statutes. Only last week we stood at Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments. How can it be that we immediately transition from that dramatic event to a mundane list of 53 mitzvot, with details within details of halachot regarding every area of ordinary life?

Our commentators explain that this is exactly the point: Greatness is in the details. The parasha concerns conduct towards parents, business dealings, tzedakah, holiday observance, eating, and agricultural practices; all of our regular concerns. In order to come down from the mountaintop, yet retain the mountaintop's message, thunder and lightning need to be broken down into the components of everyday life.

This Shabbat marks the fifth anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Ya'akov Edelstein. He was the rabbi of Ramat HaSharon and a living example of Torah greatness expressed in small acts.

Here is a story about him from a resident of Ramat HaSharon:

"I worked for years as his housekeeper. He would always turn on the light for me if he saw that I did not turn it on myself. I was there for his last day at home. A doctor was called and they sat together in the kitchen. It was then decided that the rabbi must go to the hospital. He got up and went to his room. I was at the other end of the hall and dusk had fallen. Not darkness, but no longer afternoon sun. Just as he was packing up a few things, much to my astonishment, he walked back into the hall and pressed on the light switch. Here he was about to leave for the hospital, yet in such a tense moment he was still sensitive to another person. This was the last time that I saw him. From his stay in the hospital he did not return. The last thing he did before leaving his home forever was to pay attention to his housekeeper and take several extra steps for her sake. In a certain sense, that's the job for all of us in this world: to turn on the light for someone else."

Shabbat shalom.


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