Parashah Mishpatim 2022 (Rulings) Exodus 21 – 24

God now gives Moses the laws making up a Penal Code, covering indentured servitude, murder (the difference between intended and accidental), kidnapping/ human trafficking, torts, payment for loss of time, and other crimes.

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God also outlines the laws and punishment for moral offenses, such as seduction and sodomy. He outlaws witchcraft, polytheism, and finishes with the laws and ordinances regarding loans and pledges.

God also defines how we are to act towards each other and even towards our enemies, to be just and fair in all court cases, and not to allow our own dislike of a person to interfere with treating that person and their property with justice.

God also decrees the three annual pilgrimages to the temple, which are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, first fruits, and the harvest festival; today, these are known as Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

The parashah ends with Moses, Arron (and his sons), and the 70 Elders being called to the mountain which Moses, alone, ascends and he remains there for forty days and nights.

To clarify some of the terms in the Torah which we discuss here, and you may have heard elsewhere, the main word we hear a lot of is mitzvot, which means “laws”.

Within Judaism, there are three types of Mitzvot: Mishpatim, Chukkim, and Eidot. Mishpatim are easily understood laws, such as the prohibition against theft and murder; chukkim are ceremonial laws, such as the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) and family purity. The reasoning for chukkim isn’t always as obvious as with the mishpatim. Eidot (testimonials) are laws that come somewhere between the mishpatim (obvious) and chukkim (not so obvious), such as eating matzo during Passover and the wearing of Tefillin.

There really is only one thing I want to talk about from this parashah, and that is the subject of obedience.

Over the millennia since God told Moses what he expected (or better yet, demanded) from the Israelites, there have been many other religions that have come out of the Torah. And not just out of the Torah in terms of the Torah being the source document, but totally out of the Torah, as in not having anything at all to do with it!

Christianity does, for the most part, ignore most of the Torah, taking from it the 10 commandments (and in some Christian religions violating the 2nd Commandment) and leaving the rest behind. That’s mainly because what we call Christianity today has nothing to do with Christ, i.e. Yeshua the Messiah: almost every single rule, dictate, regulation, holiday, and ritual associated with Christianity is man-made and not the way Yeshua lived or worshiped.

That being said, even within Judaism many of the commandments, laws, ordinances, and regulations God gave us have been twisted around due to Halacha (the Walk), which are the rabbinic rules for how we are to perform and obey these laws. The problem is that in the Talmud, the rabbis have identified their own methods for obedience, more often than not adding to the way to perform these laws in our everyday lives. And in some cases, as Yeshua pointed out to the Pharisees, the rabbinic regulations are given precedence over what God said to do.

Of course, the people who created these laws and regulations thought they were doing what God wants, but when you read the Talmud, which starts off with the Torah, and read all the different theological battles and opposing interpretations of the Torah portion they are discussing, you can’t help but realize Halacha is made up of individual beliefs and not God-dictated performance.

But within Christianity, you don’t see the Torah, at all.

So the lesson today is this: God tells us what we are to do, taken as dictation from God to Moses, in the Torah. These first five books of the Bible are God-directed instructions.

The prophets were given dictation from God, so what the prophets wrote and said to the people; and, even if there was some individual method of speaking involved, what we read in the books of the prophets was basically God-dictated messages repeated by the prophet.

Anything else, such as the other books of the Tanakh and the entire B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant) are nothing more than man-made rules. The Talmudic and Christian rituals and practices are not (exactly) what God said to do.

Here is the simple truth about the way the world is today: there are too many religions that profess to be worshiping of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, most of which accept Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send, but worship any old way they want to, ignoring, rejecting, and even ridiculing the way God said we should worship.

God has no religion! God told us the way he wants us to worship and how to treat each other, and he did that by dictating it to Moses, who wrote it down so there wouldn’t be any confusion or misunderstanding. God gave it to the Jewish people, who he chose to be his nation of priests (Ex. 19:6) so they could teach it to the world.

So, if you want to worship God and do so in the manner he wants you to, then all you need to know is here in the Torah. Anything else you are told by your Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, or whatever, is man-made and useless drek that won’t score you any salvation points.

For me, with regards to the rules, holidays, rituals, etc. that are man-made, if it doesn’t overrule or go against what God said, I can decide if I want to obey or not.

Here’s the bottom line: when you come before God on Judgement Day (and you WILL come before him), and say:

“But I did what they told me I should do.”

I can’t speak for God, but I expect he might say something like this:

“My child, I understand you did what they told you to do, but it’s what I say that counts.”

I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to hear that when I am standing in front of his throne. I hope to hear something like, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, so for me, that means paying attention to the Torah commandments, regulations, laws, and ordinances.

What do you want to hear when you come before the Lord Almighty?

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!