Mishpatim in a Nutshell
Following the revelation at Sinai, G‑d legislates a series of laws for the people of Israel. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the “Four Guardians”; and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.
Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; and the mitzvah of prayer. Altogether, the Parshah of Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot—23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions.
G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.
The people of Israel proclaim, “We will do and we will hear all that G‑d commands us.” Leaving Aaron and Hur in charge in the Israelite camp, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from G‑d.
We know that giving is good. But how is interest like a snake bite? Parashat Mishpatim, sponsored by Hebrew Free Loan and narrated by Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, features the act of giving without interest — and a money-hungry serpent with other plans.
It offers the question: When someone asks to borrow money, do we use that as an opportunity to help them, or do we use it as an opportunity to help ourselves, and make ourselves rich with tiny little snake bites of interest?
Parsha in 60 Seconds Presents Mishpatim