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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.

Shlomo Ressler