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Law and order

Written by Rabbi Daniel Leeman

We are currently in the final week of the ‘Shovavim’ period of repentance, based on the verse “wayward (shovavim) sons return” [1]. ‘Shovavim’ is also an acronym for Shemos, Vaera, Bo, Beshalach, Yisro, Mishpatim – the Torah readings that coincide with this period. It is pointed out that in these readings, the Children of Israel were redeemed from Egypt, and so too if we repent, we can also experience our own redemption. The first of these readings are indeed concerned with the exodus from Egypt, and perhaps even the reading of Yisro in which we received the Torah – the very reason why we were redeemed. But what does the section of Mishpatim, discussing the laws and ordinances, have to do with the exodus from Egypt, and more so our own personal repentance and redemption?

Many years ago, a man claimed to have discovered a ‘lost’ tractate of the Talmud. He took the manuscript to many Rabbis and Torah scholars who authenticated it.
But when he took it to the Torah leader of the generation, the Rugedshuver Gaon of Dvinsk, he dismissed it as a forgery. When questioned as to how he could be so sure, he replied, “There is a rule that in every chapter of every tractate in the Talmud we are introduced to a new character, but in this forgery that was not the case.”

The only way to truly reach our spiritual goals is to keep the ‘rules’. Anything else is merely a forgery. Indeed the very word “hamishpatim” (the ordinances) shares the same numerical value as the word “p’dus” [2] – redemption.

The laws connect us to G-d; they pave the way for our future. And so, we can only experience a true ‘redemption’ when we observe the ordinances. Perhaps this is even alluded to in the verse “these are the ordinances that you shall place before you” [3] – it is through observing the laws that we pave the way forwards towards our redemption.
May we merit experiencing our salvation!

Have a genuine Shabbos,


Additional sources:
[1] Yermiyahu 3:14, 22
[2] E.g. Shemos 8:19 (see Baal haTurim)
[3] Shemos 21:1

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