Our Parsha of Mishpatim deals with many laws of how we relate to others through our actions, and how we treat others. Not only that, but we are also responsible and accountable for damages should we fail to maintain our environment properly.
Remarkably, the Torah Laws given to us 3,400 years ago were so sensitive to these issues. It was most definitely a revolution in so many ways, and these principles are relevant still today.
The laws tried to create a Good Society.
But what happens when a group of people choose evil over good? How can any of these laws function if there is no concept of working towards a common good? When one side chooses death over life.
Let’s drill down a little.
“The polls are in and Brigitte Gabriel breaks it down. The Arab World for Research and Development ran a poll of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Here are the results.
· 3/4 Palestinians support Hamas’ October 7th massacre.
· 98% said that October 7th made them proud.
· 77% want to destroy Israel.
· And in the West Bank? Hamas is even more popular.
· 88% approval rating.
· Islamic Jihad 93% support in the West Bank.
· 98% of Palestinians in the West Bank say they hate America.
· 96.8% in Gaza hate America.
· Oh, and the UK?! 100% said they hate the UK. Yes, you read that right. 100%.
· 92% hate the EU and 88% hate the UN.
This is death cult that hates everyone and wants everyone dead?
As Brigitte so eloquently said “We don’t really believe in evil. Even when we come face to face with it, we make excuses for it.”
Wake up, folks. The Palestinian people have chosen terror over freedom. They have chosen to build a rotten society from the ground up instead of building a flourishing state.
The hard truth is, this isn’t a war between Israel and Hamas. This is a war between the west, represented by Israel, against radical Islam represented by the Palestinian people and their elected government, Hamas.
Numbers don’t lie and the Palestinians have chosen death over life.”
Now it gets worse. What happens with Institutions that run the world that are meant to work for a better world or compromised by Antisemitism and Anti-Zionist hate?
For example, UNRWA also has a lot to answer for here — their schools literally preach hate, and they’re bringing up generations with a mindset that they should hate Israel, Jews, America and the West. If these kids had received a proper education, they might be curious enough to question more about all this hate-filled propaganda flung at them — and not choose terror over peace.
Additionally, the international media hides this information as “sensitive” to “keep hope for peace”. The international community describes it as “complex” and ignores it since it would lead to uneasy outcomes. There will be no hope for peace based on lies about one side. Would they want to advocate peace, a two-state solution, then the acknowledgement of reality must be the first step.
“Why are people speaking about a two-state solution like it’s some new idea that we haven’t offered before — and is it meant to be a reward for carrying out a massacre against us?: asks Fleur Hassan-Nahoum.
Indeed, how can we make a treaty with anyone who wants to annihilate us? We can only co-exist with people who recognize our right to exist — from the river to the sea.
So, how can we create a good society when there is so much evil and hatred?
While the UN SDGs call for a better world, and with all the so-called Innovation and advancement, we are at the core self-centered and governed by “what’s in it for me?” and as a consequence, we have oppression and abuse, unfair labour conditions, slavery and forced poverty around the world.
The Torah stands as a beacon of hope for how should treat others.
How can you justify slavery?
You shall not wrong a stranger, nor oppress him; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
שמות כב׃כ Exodus 22:20
וגר לא־תונה ולא תלחצנו כי־גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים׃
Our Parsha deals with many laws of how we relate to others through our actions, and we treat others.
These laws are an ancient legal code dealing with real-life problems.
Quoting Rav Kook “ The legal system of the Torah makes a great impression on life. It is not possible for social communal life to exist without the power of din ve’mishpat– law and judgment. The Torah can have a great effect on life when it directs life with its laws.
And through this, it also impacts the other pathways and activities of life.
We have to be very careful that our engagement in the theoretical Torah does not prevent the Torah from having a controlling influence on practical life. It is only then that the purpose of the Torah will manifest itself fully in reality.”
So, let’s have another look at ESG.
G- Governance — Din-Law
“These are the three pillars on which the world stands. (Pirkei Avot 1:18) and they are all dependent on Din-Law as our sages teach: ‘Din brings Emet which brings Shalom’. (Jerusalem Talmud, Taanit 4b)”
More reading — https://haorot.com/mishpatim-laws-of-good
In today’s enlightened world, we are repulsed by slavery and the concept of selling our daughters for marriage.
This is not a halachic or legal discussion, but a look at philosophical, moral views.
The Torah permitted slavery with limits. Slavery was an economic necessity resulting from somebody who could not support himself, who chose to sell himself. He was not captured against his will. This is a big difference — once he sold himself as, his owner had an obligation to feed and house and treat him in a ‘pleasant’ manner.
The question is asked — Why did God not make a law to abolish slavery?
Slavery was universal and it would not be possible to command not to own slaves like you we commanded not to kill.
Therefore, the Torah allows a humane, limited form of slavery.
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything . . . But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” (Ex. 21: 2–6)
What is being done in these laws? First, a fundamental change is taking place in the nature of slavery. No longer is it a permanent status; it is a temporary condition. A Hebrew slave goes free after seven years. He or she knows this. Liberty awaits the slave not at the whim of the master but by divine command. When you know that within a fixed time you are going to be free, you may be a slave in your body but in your own mind, you are a free human being who has temporarily lost his or her liberty. That in itself is revolutionary. This alone, though, was not enough. Six years are a long time. Hence the institution of Shabbat ordained so that one day in seven a slave could breathe free air: no one could command him to work:
Quoting Rabbi Sacks z’l
“Nowhere is this clearer than in the opening of today’s parsha. We have been reading about the Israelites’ historic experience of slavery. So, the social legislation of Mishpatim begins with slavery. What is fascinating is not only what it says but what it doesn’t say.
It doesn’t say: abolish slavery. Surely it should have been done. Is that not the whole point of the story thus far? Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery. He, as the Egyptian viceroy Tzofenat Paneach, threatens them with slavery. Generations later, when a pharaoh arose who “knew not Joseph,” the entire Israelite people became Egypt’s slaves. Slavery, like vengeance, is a vicious circle that has no natural end. Why not, then, give it a supernatural end? Why did God not say: There shall be no more slavery?
If history tells us anything it is that God has patience, though it is often sorely tried. He wanted slavery abolished but he wanted it to be done by free human beings coming to see of their own accord the evil it is and the evil it does. The God of history, who taught us to study history, had faith that eventually we would learn the lesson of history: that freedom is indivisible. We must grant freedom to others if we truly seek it for ourselves.”