Pearls of Rashi – Mishpotim

This week we read Parshas Mishpotim. Mishpotim are a certain type of Mitzvah; specifically, those commandments which make sense to us, i.e. we find them logical. Even without a command, we would have found them necessary. For the most part these are the Torah’s civil laws. Hence, most of this week’s Torah portion deals with civil law.

Among the other laws in our Parshah we are taught what happens when one’s property cause damage. We read what happens[1] “if a bull gores a man or a woman and they die …” Rashi cites the words from the verse “if a bull gores,” and explains that this law does not only apply to a bull. Rather it means “either a bull or any domestic animal, beast, or bird. However, the Torah spoke of what usually occurs[2].”

In our Torah portion, Rashi cites this rule a number of other times[3]. Rashi’s commentary, as he himself writes, explains the simple meaning of the Torah to a beginning student. However, he also alludes to deeper explanations of the Torah, including lessons for the practical service of Hashem. What is the deeper meaning behind this rule? What does it teach us in terms of our Divine service?

As we have seen in the Torah portions of the past few weeks, there are miracles that are totally beyond the laws of nature. We have learned of the exodus of the Jews, several million people, from Egypt. Egypt was a superpower from which not even one slave had ever escaped. We read of the splitting of a sea. We read of food raining down from heaven. These, and more, are events which can only be seen as miraculous. There is no possible way to look at them and to think that they were just random things that took place without Divine intervention.

However, more often than not, the world seems to follow the laws of nature. One can witness occurrences, and believe that they are merely following the natural way of the world. One can think that Hashem is not intervening.

Therefore, Rashi says, and emphasizes by repeating it more than once, that “the Torah spoke of what usually occurs.” Even when we are looking at “what usually occurs,” we must be aware that it is the Torah speaking. We must look at everything which takes place in our lives, and see beyond the veneer. Whatever takes place, is actually G-d “running the show” for our benefit. This is true even when we do not witness a sea splitting.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Beginning with Page 141

Mr. Sholom Moshe ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 21:28.

[2]. The literal translation of Rashi’s words is that “the Torah speaks in the present tense.” In other words, the Torah speaks of the most common case, and most often it is bulls, that gore.

[3]. In our Parshah, Shemos 22:17, ibid. 21, ibid. 30.

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