Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim Rosh Chodesh Adar – Day 2 Shabbat Shekalim Holy People

Dear Friends,

All of the laws of Mishpatim support the Torah’s central idea that we are encouraged to strive for holiness through our human interactions with one another, as well as through our human actions as they relate to our connection to God.

Human interactions are intended to raise us up beyond the realm of the animal world. We human beings are all created in God’s image and we are to treat one another accordingly. Therefore, we seek justice, honesty, fairness, and generally a sense of responsibility in our dealings with one another. So, for example, we read: “You must not carry false rumors, you shall not join hands with the guilty to act as a malicious witness.” (Exodus 23:1)

Human actions, unrelated to our relationship with other human beings, are also intended to raise us up beyond the realm of the animal world. So, for example we read: “V’anshei kodesh t’hiyun li...You shall be holy people to Me: you must not eat flesh torn by beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs.” (Exodus 22:30). This teaching, as other teachings that outline the world of keeping kosher, does not teach us how to relate to one another. It teaches us how to control our very human appetites. At the same time, it is a spiritual exercise demonstrating our acceptance of God’s ultimate “ownership” of the world. We are “guests” in God’s world. Therefore, we eat only what God decides to offer us – only what God defines as “kosher” – not simply anything that we are able to find. This is a wonderful level of holiness for which we can all strive.

And…. a chasidic interpretation of “Anshei kodesh” also points us to an additional level of holiness. Although the phrase “Anshei kodesh” is literally “holy humans”, it may be interpreted in this way, as well: Strive to be a holy humans by keeping kosher, but beyond that, strive to be holy and humane. Let us not strive for holiness at the expense of humaneness. Instead, let us strive for humane holiness. This is the ultimate challenge of Mishpatim – how to be in relationship with others and well as with God, while exhibiting the very best aspects of our human/humane nature.

May it be so!

And now for a public service announcement…..

Our Sages teach us:

When the Jewish month of Adar begins,

so does the fun!

We are already looking forward to celebrating Purim together

in just two weeks time!


See you then!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

Rabbi Gilah Dror