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Mishpatim: Empathy in Action

Following the fanfare of the lights and sounds show of Matan Torah in last week’s Parsha, Parshas Mishpatim reads almost like the fine print on a winning lottery ticket. Sure, there are laws and regulations and taxes on the winnings - but who’s really paying attention to those details when you’ve just found out that there’s a pile of millions of dollar bills somewhere with your name on it? A veritable LSAT study guide, Parshas Mishpatim details many of the laws related to slavery and indentured servitude, damages and restitution, and general Halachos regarding interpersonal justice. It is curious that these laws follow the awe-inspiring scene at Mount Sinai, the pinnacle of the Jewish peoples’ Divine revelation and foundation of our identity as God’s chosen people. Yet the juxtaposition of the splendor of Har Sinai with the legal minutiae of Parshas Mishpatim is anything but coincidental.