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Parshas Mishpatim - An Illuminating Light

By R' Shaya Gross, z'l

Posted on 02/01/19

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of  his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.


This week’s Parsha, Parshas Mishpatim, discusses many laws pertaining to the "day in the life of a Jew." What is the connection between this Parsha and last week’s Parsha in which the Jewish People attained a spiritual high when Hashem revealed Himself to them on Har Sinai?


Rav Shraga Simmons answers that the 2 Parshiyos are two sides of the same coin. Spirituality is not achieved by meditating alone on a mountaintop or by learning in an out-of-the-way monastery. Jewish spirituality can only be reached by grappling with the mundane world in a way that elevates it. Hence, we must learn and practice the laws of everyday life in order to truly elevate everything we do as we interact in the ‘real’ world.
What then was the purpose of the super high revelation at Mount Sinai?

The answer is that we all need a powerful spiritual experience to get ourselves going. It gives us the knowledge and conviction that we are on the right path, doing what Hashem wants us to do. The Rambam likens it to one who is lost trudging along in a dark and rainy storm unsure of where to go and what to do. Then there is a flash of lightning; it doesn't last long, but it illuminates the path on which he is traveling, revealing to him which direction he should go in.
             
That was the purpose of the revelation at Mount Sinai. Once we have witnessed that 'illuminating light,' we must channel its inspiration into our daily lives trying to elevate all the 'mundane' things we do.  
I think this also explains why the last week of Shovavim [an acronym for the six Shabbosim during the winter from Parshas Shmos through Mishpatim, which are a special time for Teshuva] ends with our Parsha, Parshas Mishpatim. By now we hopefully have taken advantage of the spirituality of these past 6 weeks which will then enable us to continue elevating the mundane throughout the rest of the year.  

{Rabbi Baruch Leib Gross's Note: I read a beautiful story from the book Living Emunah that I would like to share with you.  A teenage boy knocked on the door of the home of Rav Shlomo Farhi, who is involved in outreach in England.  The boy said, “I know that Hashem loves me.” 
Rabbi Farhi asked the boy, “How do you know Hashem loves you?” 
“There is no question about that at all,” the boy responded. 
He then proceeded to tell the Rabbi how during the summer of 2005 he would travel by train to choir practice in London, every Thursday morning.  It was a long trip from his home, and he needed to be there at 9:00 AM.  One morning, as the train was just a couple of stops away from his destination, he looked at his watch and saw that the time was 8:30.  There was a coffee shop across the street from the station stop and he figured he had plenty of time to get off, get himself a coffee, and relax for a few minutes, before getting back on the train and going to practice. 
Shortly after exiting the train, he heard a deafening explosion.  He turned around and saw that the train had just blown up!  With tears running down his face, he tried calling home to inform his family that he was alive, but the cell phone network had crashed.  The boy started walking home, and two hours later, he walked through the front door.
He found his parents crying and sobbing.  As soon as they saw him, they rejoiced.  “You’re alive!!” they exclaimed.  “We can’t believe it!  You were on that train!”  They told him that there was a synchronized terror attack on the London transit system and multiple explosions took place at 8:50 AM. 
“No,” the boy said.  “It didn’t happen at 8:50, it happened at 8:30!” 
“That’s wrong,” his parents replied.  “All the news stations reported that the attack took place at 8:50.”  The boy looked at his watch and his mouth dropped.  It still read 8:30.
Hashem had made his watch stop so he would think he had enough time to go get a cup of coffee and that is how his life was saved. 
“That is how I know Hashem loves me,” the boy concluded to Rabbi Farhi.
I think that to some extent we all get that illuminating light in our lives. If we look back at our lives and see the twists and turns that the school of life has taken us, we will see that Hashem is constantly guiding our footsteps and shining His light on us. It is our job to then take that light, and as Shaya wrote, to continue along the illuminated path and channel that inspiration into our daily lives tring to elevate all the mundane things we do.