Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Mishpatim/Shekalim/Mevarchim Chodesh Adar
28 Shevat 5773/February 8, 2013

Written for “ASHREI NEWS” – Ashar’s weekly newsletter – Parshas Mishpatim 5773

It’s the biggest game of the year! There is no greater emotional hype in the world of sports than the Super Bowl. Players and fans count down the days until the showdown. The game begins with exhilarating passion as both sides play their hearts out. It’s what every kid dreams of and every player hopes for. It’s what motivates them throughout the season. Once the game actually starts nothing could stop the momentum. Nothing at all! Well almost nothing…
Much of America saw it happen last Sunday. It was an unprecedented and unimaginable event. The lights went out during the big game and everything came to a screeching halt. All of the hype, all of the psyche, and all of the momentum, it all stopped. The players returned to the sidelines, fans sat back from the edge of their seats. Without those massive lights the game could not continue. In the middle of the third quarter of Super Bowl XIVII, the Ravens and 49ers had to wait it out. It was, what we would dub, ‘a yeshivishe matzav’.
Parshas Mishpatim seems somewhat out of place. Since the beginning of the Torah, way back after Simchas Torah, every parsha has been filled with glorious stories, many miraculous, of our forefathers and ancestors. Then in Chumash Shemot the story becomes more incredible as miracles become commonplace throughout the plagues and Yetziat Mitzrayim, the splitting sea, manna falling from the heaven, the war against Amalek, and the great revelation of Matan Torah. And then suddenly the story seems to come to a screeching halt.
“These are the laws that you shall place before them”. Klal Yisroel is taught the laws of getting along with others, responsibility for property, laws of damages, and laws of money.
It seems incongruous. What is the connection between the laws of daily living and the exciting stories that precede them?
Being a Torah Jew does not only involve the excitement of the Chagim and enjoying the beauty and meals on Shabbat. Being a Torah Jew entails living like a mentch every day of your life. It includes how you act towards others, how you speak to others, and how much you care about others. Being a Torah Jew must shape and define every facet of your life. 
It is not enough to perform in your Avodat Hashem when you are centerfield and everyone is cheering you on. It’s not enough to learn Torah just to get good grades in yeshiva and to make your parents proud. Being a Torah Jew means learning how to perform when the lights are out - in the darkness when no one is there except you and Hashem.
If a Jew doesn’t familiarize himself/herself, not only with the letter of the laws of Parshat Mishpatim, but also with the spirit of the laws of Parshat Mishpatim, he/she has not fulfilled his/her responsibility. 
Throughout our lives we must not allow ourselves to become intimidated by our opponents, even when the odds are against us. All we need is to get that first down, and then to keep advancing. We must not fear the line of scrimmage by being confident that we can break through the defense. But most importantly, in life we must never stop playing the game and we must never leave the field. Even when the lights go out we must still be there battling.
Go Giants – future Torah Giants of Ashar J

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
   R’ Dani and Chani Staum

720 Union Road • New Hempstead, NY 10977 • (845) 362-2425