Parshat Mishpatim and Shekalim 5773–The Business of Religion–Shabbat Torah Study

Last week’s Parasha contained the 10 Commandments that we learned were really the 10 Divine Utterances and contain many more mitzvoth than merely 10. They contain the most basic obligation of Judaism, the recognition and acceptance of God as One and True and as a divine force in our lives. Yet, the focus of the mitzvoth in the very next Parasha is on much more mundane and day-to day matters–our relationship with others in business and property matters. Our Sages tell us that the juxtaposition of the civil matters to the special holiness that we ascribe to the powerful experience at Sinai teaches us that they are no less important. In other words, conducting ourselves honestly in business and being upright in our dealings with others has a sanctity no less important than “religious rituals”—not that you can have one without the other, but that the business, personal and religious areas of life are all intertwined and holy. Business ethics are themselves religious rituals. They say that a court room is as much a temple as the Temple itself because the acts of an honest judge make her a partner in God’s creation and the acts of a corrupt judge destroy God’s world.

This Shabbat is also one of the 4 special Shabbatot leading to Purim and Passover. It is Shabbat Shekalim in which the Jewish people participated in a census through contribution of a single shekel a piece showing each of us to be precious in God’s sight and each counted equally. It is always read near the beginning of Adar when Purim is just about 2 weeks away. Have a taste for Hamantaschen yet? What is your favorite flavor? How many Hamantaschen would a Shekel buy?

We learn with Ruth Bergman this Shabbat, finding interesting and important insights in this week’s Parasha you may not have considered. 10:00 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like. I hope to see you there.

Shabbat Shalom,

Paul

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