Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Parshat Mishpatim, (Exodus 22:4-22:26)-1/21/2014

We so often hear people say, “It isn't fair." What the Jews attempted was to make fair laws. I sense that their bout with slavery taught them that people deserved to be treated fairly.

We certainly can poke holes in some of their laws. But I'm pretty sure that they were an improvement from what proceeded those laws.

We read that you shall not allow a sorceress to live. We are ashamed of the witch trials in this country, but we see here that the fear of the sorceress (men and women) was ages older than Salem. I wonder if they consider magic to be worshiping another G-d?

There is a penalty for one who lies (carnally) with an animal. Is this something the Egyptians did?

A sacrifice to any gods (pagan deities) but the Lord is punishable by death. I wonder if the Jews believed these deities were really deities, though lesser ones that theirs, or whether they were false gods.

One of my favorite laws was that you should not mistreat a stranger, nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. What a novel idea this might have been have been! Did the Jews invent this idea of loving people from other tribes?

If you take someone's garment as security for a loan, you should return it before sunset ... because how can they sleep without the garment. How civilized!

If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall marry her ... unless her father refuses to give her to him, and then he needs to pay money to the father and his daughter. How wonderful that he isn't sent to jail. For the time, it probably seemed like justice was done. In Hebrew, it says that seduces means to speak to her heart until she yields to him. I guess these are unfair tactics when you are with a virgin.

These all seem like reasonable laws, and close to many of our laws ... with the exception that there isn't a fine line between civil and criminal offenses. The penalty is retribution for the damages.  

Speaking to Her Heart

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