Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The most astonishing thing about parashat Mishpatim is parashat Mishpatim. Rav Adin Steinsaltz explains as follows: How can it be that we transition from the dramatic and emotional event at Mount Sinai in the previous parasha to a parasha with a list of 53 mitzvot that encompass every area of life? How is it possible to go from the giving of the Torah to giving instructions on how to care for your donkey or what happens when someone breaks your tooth or injures you?
In order to do great things, we need to start with the smallest details. Only in this way can we create meaning and perpetuate Mount Sinai, bringing what happened there into our everyday lives. In contrast to the saying that ‘the ends justify the means,’ the Torah calls upon us to see things completely differently and declare that ‘the means justify the ends’. We cannot keep with us the thunder and lightning of Sinai, but we can take the spirit of Sinai and incorporate it into mitzvot, whether we are at the market, at home, in the bank or the car. We are accustomed to gazing up towards heaven when we speak about G-d, but parashat Mishpatim teaches us that he is also found in the paper money we use for buying things, in the apple we eat, and in our relationship with the parking lot attendant”.