• Daily Aliya for Mishpatim, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: An arsonist is liable for damages caused by fires he ignites. The Torah then details the potential liabilities of an individual who undertakes to be a guardian of another’s possessions, a borrower, and a renter. More laws: the punishment for seducing a young woman, sorcery, bestiality and offering an idolatrous sacrifice; prohibitions against harassing a foreigner, widow, or orphan; the mitzvah of lending money to the poor and the prohibition against lending with interest.

    The prohibition against mistreating a foreigner is worded differently than the one against mistreating an orphan or widow. There is a reason given for not mistreating a foreigner, because we were once foreigners in Egypt. How is that relevant, and why does there have to be a reason? Can’t it just be a law that we must follow, just like the orphan and widow commandment? Unless there is a deeper requirement involved – one of empathizing with others whenever possible. The Torah might be telling us not to simply follow the laws, but to try and feel what others are feeling, whenever possible.

  • Daily Aliya for Mishpatim, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya continues with laws of personal injury: the punishment for one who kills or injures his servant and for one who causes a woman to miscarry. The Torah then shifts its focus to a person’s liabilities for damages caused by his possessions, such as an ox that gores; or his actions, such as leaving an open pit uncovered. A person who steals is liable to pay the capital plus punitive damages. The section concludes with a person’s right to self-defense when facing a marauding thief.

    The Torah elaborates on the rules of personal injuries requiring the guilty party to pay compensatory damages. The famous “an eye for an eye…” passage has stimulated much slander against the Torah and Judaism by being construed literally. Our Oral Tradition explains the passage as requiring a thorough evaluation by the court to determine the proper amounts to be paid to the injured party.

  • Daily Aliya for Mishpatim, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: This week’s reading, Mishpatim, details many laws, including laws related to slaves, personal injury, loans, usury, and property damage. The end of the portion speaks of the preparations the Israelites made before receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai.

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya discusses laws pertaining to the Israelite servant, his mandatory release after six years of service, and the procedure followed when a servant expresses his desire to remain in his master’s service. The Torah continues with the laws of the Israelite maidservant, and her terms of release. Other laws contained in this section: a husband’s obligations towards his wife; punishments for murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and abusing parents; and the penalties accrued by a person who injures another.

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