This week’s Torah portion, Mishpotim, tells us (for the most part) of one particular type of commandment given to us by Hashem. It describes those Mitzvos which are understandable by human intelligence. In fact, had we not been commanded to perform them, we would nevertheless do them of our own accord. Keep in mind that this Parshah comes as a continuation to what we read last week, describing Hashem giving the Torah to the Jewish people and Mount Sinai.
Our Torah portion begins (Shemos 21:1) “And these are the ordinances which you shall place before them.” G-d is speaking to Moshe, and commanding him to teach us the ordinances. Rashi comments that “Wherever it says ‘these’ (in the Torah), it separates and distinguishes what is being said presently, from what has been stated previously. However, when it says ‘And these,’ it is adding to that which was stated earlier. Just as what has been previously stated (meaning the Ten Commandments) were from Sinai, these too were from Sinai.”
As stated earlier, the commandments which we are discussing are those which our human intelligence can grasp. By and large, they are Mitzvos which concern interpersonal relations. Rashi is pointing out that nonetheless, we fulfill these Mitzvos for one reason only. Namely, we keep these commandments because Hashem told us to. We fulfill the obligation to “remember the day of Shabbos to sanctify it” because G-d told us to at Mount Sinai. Likewise, we must fulfill the commandment not to cause damage to our fellow man simply because Hashem said so; not because it makes sense.
Wishing one and all Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn