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A collection of excerpts from Torah Club on the weekly Torah Portions, from Genesis to Deuteronomy.
MishpatimRead / Listen to Portion
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The Torah contains both law and revelation. It provides a rule of conduct, but at the same time, it expresses God in human terms. If a person realizes that Torah is God’s own self-disclosure to the world, he will appreciate the enormous gravity of declaring that same Torah null or void.
The name of this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim (משפטים), means “judgments.” The Torah portion contains a list of commandments and guidelines for the exercise of righteousness and justice (mishpat, משפט). Our Master Yeshua declared justice to be the first of three weighty matters of the Torah: “justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).
The Bible's laws about slaves are meant for the protection and well-being of the people enslaved. The Israelites had just left slavery. They had experienced it in its ugliest form. It is only natural that God would address that institution and lay out rules to prevent the perpetuation of the maltreatment of slaves.
Similarly, Exodus 21:17 says, "He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." What does it mean to curse one's parents? According to traditional Judaism, the passage is not speaking of simply abusive language; it is speaking of a real curse. If a son or daughter uses the holy name of the LORD to utter an intentional curse against one of their parents, that son or daughter is worthy of death. Without a sovereign Torah-court wielding civil authority, the death-penalty no longer applies. No one has been stoned by Torah-law in almost two-thousand years.
Let’s think about the Grace vs. Law idea. What do we mean when we say that we are not under the law? Does that mean we do not have to keep God’s rules? For example, does it mean that we can commit adultery and theft? Of course not. No one would say that. So what does it mean?