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[These Are the] Rules

These are the rules that you shall set before them. - Exodus 21:1

  • Interpersonal laws ranging from the treatment of slaves to the exhibition of kindness to strangers are listed. (21:1-23:9)
  • Cultic laws follow, including the commandment to observe the Sabbatical Year, a repetition of the Sabbath injunction, the first mention of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals, rules of sacrificial offerings, and the prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother's milk. (23:10-19)
  • The people assent to the covenant. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel ascend the mountain and see God. Moses goes on alone and spends forty days on the mountain. (24:1-18)

When do we read Mishpatim?

2021 Feb 13
/1 Adar, 5781
2022 Jan 29
/27 Shevat, 5782
2023 Feb 18
/27 Shevat, 5783


  • By Rabbi Stephanie M. Alexander

    We’re often taught that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, beauty is only skin deep, and we should never judge a book by its cover. But what about when there’s a disconnect between what we’re told is on the inside and what we see on the outside — when one’s actions leave something to be desired, though supposedly one’s heart is in the right place? Is what’s on the inside still what counts? This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, suggests otherwise, as it begins: “These are the rules (mishpatim) that you shall set before them [the Israelites]:” (Ex. 21:1)

  • Torah for Tots

    A guide to help adults learn how to engage young children in a discussion about this week’s Torah portion.

  • Torah for Tweens

    Learn more about Parashat Mishpatim with Torah for Tweens!

  • Torah for Teens

    This week’s parasha’s title means “laws,” so it is fitting that many laws are listed: interpersonal laws, laws about ritual, and so much more. Find out details in the rap! 

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