Rabbi Jonah Pesner
Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism
Parashat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1-24:18
- 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)
- Rabbi Pesner tells us that it is in taking action to repair the world or to engage in tradition that we can hear God’s voice. Can you recall a time that this is true for you?
- Rabbi Pesner points out that we all stood together at Sinai to accept God’s covenant (Deut. 29:14). What does this mean to you? Does it make you feel more connected to God… to the people around you? Does it inspire you to perform mitzvot… to participate in performing mitzvot with others?