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Parshah Mishpatim

     This week’s Parshah, Mishpatim (Statutes), comes on the heels of the transmission of the 10 Great Words. Unlike last week’s reading which saw Moses ascend Sinai by himself, this Parshah presents 53 commandments to 73 elders standing with Moshe. All told, 74 communal leaders are commanded to care for cattle, prevent cruelty to animals, ensure fair and equitable judicial proceedings, prevent economic mistreatment of borrowers and lenders, keep kosher with an eye towards holiness, safeguard widows, orphans, strangers, promote observance of Jewish holidays and model reverence of God. Strikingly, these mitzvot echo the identifying features of our own Shul and reverberate throughout modern Jewish life, given voice by our own individual households. To picture one lone man, like Charlton Heston, climbing a mountain to experience God brings to mind the compelling intensity of a Divine-human encounter. However, the true greatness of a religious experience is to have a community share in the charting of a course of action like the 74 leaders in this week’s Parshah and the leadership within our Shul, the Temple and expressed by the Lubel family; shared with as many people as possible. May we all study, learn, work and grow in our Jewish experiences, thus influencing our communities.

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