Parshas Mishpatim
Shemos 21:1 - 24:18

Ha Torah - The Law ©

By Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

This study is dedicated in the very loving memory of Samuel and Miriam Goodman, may they rest in peace and may their memory be for good.

To begin our discussion on conduct, we must actually digress first to explain the term Jewish Law and a few misunderstandings surrounding it. Jewish Law, meaning Ha Torah, is a subject that for hundreds of years has been misunderstood! Jewish law has been the object of much abuse and assault especially by those that do not understand. Christians / Messianics commonly state, ‘We live under grace! We don’t live under the law.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. One example: The law of gravity.
In last week’s parsha we stated that in the third month B’nei Yisroel camped east of Har Sinai. It was there that Ha Torah, the Law, was given to the Jewish nation. In the same parsha, Yisro offers advice to his son-in-law, Moshe Rabbeinu.

‘‘And He, Moshe’s father-in-law saw everything from Aleph to Tav of all that he [Moshe] did... [prepared... accomplished] for the people, he [Yisro] said [to Moshe], ‘What are these things that you are doing [preparing... accomplishing...] for the people? Why are you sitting by yourself? [Why are you saying these words by yourself?] And why are all the people standing by you from morning to evening?’’

‘‘Moshe said to his father-in-law, ‘Because the people look up to me seeking
[direction from] G-d. For whenever they need words [of authority] they look up to me, and I judge between man and his neighbor. And I instruct them in everything from Aleph to Tav of the statutes of G-d and in everything from Aleph to Tav of His Torah.’ ”

“Moshe’s father-in-law said to him, ‘The words that you prepare, it is not good [because you] will whither away [from this]. You will wear yourself out and also the people that are with you. For the words [you prepare] are too burdensome for you. You cannot do these preparations alone. Now! Hear my voice! I will give you advice and G-d be with you. You need to be G-d’s agent to the people and they can bring everything from Aleph to Tav of their words to G-d and you shall enlighten them in everything from Aleph to Tav of the statutes and in everything from Aleph to Tav of Ha Torah and you shall give instruction to them. [You shall teach them] everything from Aleph to Tav of the path they should walk in and everything from Aleph to Tav from the preparations they must [learn to] prepare. And you must perceive from among the people [who are] leaders of virtue who fear G-d, leaders of truth who hate gain and place them over [the people as] officers of thousands, officers of hundreds, officers of fifties and officers of tens. And [have them] judge everything from Aleph to Tav of the people at all times. And all the words [requiring] the greater [authority] they will bring to you and all the words [requiring] lesser [authority] they will judge by themselves [as a result] it will be easier for you and the leaders [will share] your burden with you. If you do everything from Aleph to Tav of the words [I shared with you] and perform them and G-d commands [that you should do them] then you will be able to continue and also all the people will come to their place in peace.’ ’’ Shemos 18:14 - 23

Now let’s consider what is going on here...

Over three million people, a nation, the Jewish Nation, have departed Mitzriam. They have departed the strict, harsh legal structure of Mitzriam. They are on their own as a people, as a Jewish Nation without an established legal system. Moshe is the recognized leader of B’nei Yisroel. The people placed their trust in his advice... The nation has placed their trust in his honest judgment. He was very busy as the only respected leader and judge.

Moshe’s father-in-law saw the problem and recommended a solution. Now that Yisro’s advice has been accepted and officers have been appointed, the Jewish Nation is truly ready to receive Ha Torah, the law.

After the United States and the allies won the war in Iraq there was a period of time when the former structure was broken with nothing to replace it. With no governing body in place chaos followed! For days the citizens of Iraq looted and destroyed their country because there was a no civil law in place. It was a nightmare! The Americans and the allies attempted to install leaders from outside Iraq to rule the country. From the time of the illegal invasion to this day, 26 Shevat 5764 [02 - 18 - 04} this remains a problem. The United States and the allies have been there long enough to select known established leaders from among the people of Iraq to rule. It is up to the virtuous leadership of their country to determine how they desire to be governed. It is the responsibility of the U.S. and the allies to assist the leadership of Iraq. Instead we want to dominate! This is backwards unless we plan to stay there forever! Yisro, a descendant of this region, taught this principle to Moshe 3,500 years ago.

After Ha Torah was given, after Kal Yisroel received all 613 mitzvahs, the mitzvahs {the commands} had to be taught. Ha Torah had to be studied. Ha Torah had to be learned. Ha Torah had to be judged by the appointed officers!

The point is B’nei Yisroel was a newly formed nation. Iraq is a newly formed nation. As a newly formed nation a legal structure was needed. Officers were required! Laws were required. Observing the laws was required. B’nei Yisroel needed laws to replace what we left behind in Mitzriam. The same holds true for Iraq. One must understand the culture. There are differences in laws. America has laws. The Allies have laws. Every sovereign country has laws. Iraq is no different. It is so clear from this week’s parsha that the laws of one country are different from those of another country. For 210 years the laws of Mitzriam were imposed upon B’nei Yisroel in much the same way America and the allies today are imposing our laws and our rule on the people of Iraq. This will not work. Just as B’nei Yisroel had new laws to follow after being freed from Mitzriam the same holds true for the people of Iraq. They must have the freedom to enact their laws and America and the Allies need to support their laws. The point is that the laws B’nei Yisroel were used to in Mitzriam were very different from the laws taught to us by Moshe. The leadership of Iraq must have this same opportunity!!

Last week B’nei Yisroel began receiving the law that would govern our lives. We will spend the rest of this year studying, learning and following the law we received, G-d willing. Now, can you tell me of a nation, of a state, of a county or of a city that ONLY HAS 613 LAWS governing their entire existence? This is the way our Creator set it up 3,500 years ago. Over the past 3,500 years, several thousand rabbinical laws have been added to the original 613 laws. Many of the rabbinical laws were just for certain communities. Many have expired. They are no longer followed. Yet when one even considers 3,000 laws to govern an entire nation with districts and cities, that is not many laws.

When our Moshiach comes Hashem will give every Jew a special revelation, a special understanding of the 613 mitzvahs, of Ha Torah given at Har Sinai. We will understand these laws. Everyone will understand these laws. We will understand every aspect of these laws. Everyone will follow these laws in peace.

It is these laws that govern our very existence {today and when Moshiach comes} that have been challenged for hundreds of years by Christians / Messianics.

One should understand that the Hebrew word ‘‘TORAH’’ is translated into the English word as ‘‘LAW’’. So a statement like, ‘We don’t live under the law’ is actually saying ‘We don’t live under the authority of Ha Torah.’ Immediately this presents a conflict for Christians / Messianics who in the same breath say that the New Testament is founded upon the Old Testament. Why? Ha Tenach {the Christian Old Testament} consists of Ha Torah {the five books of Moshe} the Prophets and the Writings. The problem rests in the fact that present law is based upon previous law. So if we say, ‘I live under grace and not under the law,’ then what we have just done is to verbally eliminate thousands of years of law, thousands of years of legal foundations that modern day law is built upon.

Torah {Law} is more compassionate than any law, than any legal system in the world today. There are many examples in this week’s parsha.

Where does one find the word PRISON - JAIL - INCARCERATION in the 613 commands? If a person is caught stealing we do not remove limbs. Ha Torah requires reimbursement. The thief is required to fairly reimburse the victim. If the thief cannot reimburse the victim the Bet Din {Jewish court} can sell the thief as a slave, as a servant to reimburse the victim.

If the Bet Din sells a thief into slavery it can only be to another Jew. The Jew making the purchase becomes responsible to properly clothe, feed and care for his newly acquired Jewish servant. The maximum length a Jewish servant must serve is six years, depending upon the year of jubilation.

If the thief has a wife and children, then the Jew making the purchase becomes responsible to properly clothe, feed and care for the thief’s wife and children in addition to his newly acquired Jewish servant.

A man may sell himself into slavery because he has become destitute. A father may sell his young daughter{before the age of twelve} into slavery.

In both cases the man or his daughter would receive better care by the slave owner than they could provide for themselves. In each case they could be redeemed by a relative, et al.

The Jewish slave owner is required to treat his Jewish servant with the utmost respect.

When the young girl enters puberty she is immediately released.

If a servant were to lose an eye or a limb, G-d forbid, that servant would immediately go free with compensation for the the loss.

Any Jew, including the Jewish servant, is entitled to bring his complaint before the Bet Din and receive fair judgment.

The point to all this is that G-d has established a system of conduct for all Jews to follow. That system of conduct was established 3,500 years ago at Har Sinai. Our conduct, our method of doing business is intended to be the prototype for the rest of the world. What we do as Jews is intended to enlighten the world NOT BURDEN IT!!

You do not read in our Torah and you will not hear our rabbium saying, If your right eye offends you pluck it out., if your right hand offends you cut it off... Matthew 5:29 Ha Torah teaches against self-mutilation. Ha Torah teaches against mutilation of animals also. Torah conduct requires that one respect their body as the house in which G-d’s Torah lives!

Ha Torah, Jewish Law, requires that our conduct be just and fair. If a poor man gives his garment to us for surety we are required to give it back to him immediately.

It is this wonderful, loving method of governing our lives as required by G-d’s Torah {G-d’s law}, including the rabbinical law, that Christians / Messianics claim G-d has done away with, yet it is the best system in the world. It is the most caring system in the world.

Christians / Messianics are waiting for that ‘‘which is perfect is come,’’ 1 Corinthians 13:10. We the Jewish people and the Spiritualist people already have it. David Ha Melech said Ha Torah of Hashem is PERFECT! See Tehillim 19:8. Unfortunately Christian / Messianics do not know the teachings of Ha Torah like Jews and Spiritualists. They do not read or understand them. If they did then they would soon realize that Jesus did not keep the law as he claimed to in Matthew 5:17. In addition few Christians / Messianics have given much thought to Matthew 5:18, ‘For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.’ We live in a world where Ha Tenach is far from being fulfilled. There are dozens of places in the New Testament where Jesus sinned. He openly violated Ha Torah. Yet he said that he did not come to destroy the law. How could he chastise others for their Torah observance when he said the law would remain intact until all be fulfilled?

What is the point? Christian Messianics may live as they choose. In other words, they may live by their own religious teachings as long as their religious teachings do not infringe on the rights / beliefs of others. They MUST respect Ha Torah’s sovereignty!! Each of has the right to experience or to not experience the Creator as we see fit. We do not have the right to impose the doctrines we have been taught on others. PERIOD!! The same holds true for nations. Each nation must respect the sovereignty of other nations!!

Do we see a pattern here? America invades sovereign nations and Christian Messianics invade the privacy of one’s home... office... mail... etc.!

Wishing you the best,

Blessings and Peace!

Dr. Akiva Gamliel Belk

Written 5760
Updated 5764

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