In last week’s Torah portion, we read a vivid and powerful description of one of the most momentous and pivotal moments in the story of our People’s journey out of Egypt – the reception of the 10 commandments.
In this week’s portion we find ourselves discussing what some might interpret as the deeper study of those 10 instructions, with examples provided to illustrate the finer legal points that help to ensure a healthy and thriving society.
The Torah portion Mishpatim, which could be translated as “Laws”, contains a mixture of prescriptions and regulations that touch upon many aspects of life: various cases of theft, altercations and property crimes are discussed, as well as communal and religious conduct.
47 detailed instructions can be found in our parasha. In no particular order we are told not to follow the majority for evil, not to curse our parents, not to pervert justice, not to oppress the stranger, not to have sexual intercourse with an animal, to keep the Sabbath and much more.
Perhaps one of the best known and most controversial instructions – a seemingly cruel one, possibly one that permits an act of revenge – is the prescription of “an eye for an eye.”
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