Moses Receives the Tablets of the Law
In this week’s Torah portion we are looking at Exodus 21:1–24:18
Following the revelation at Sinai, G‑d legislates a series of laws for the people of Israel. These include the laws of the indentured servant; the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the responsibilities of the “Four Guardians”; and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.
Also included are laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners; the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem; the prohibition against cooking meat with milk; and the mitzvah of prayer. Altogether, the Parshah of Mishpatim contains 53 mitzvot—23 imperative commandments and 30 prohibitions.
G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.
The people of Israel proclaim, “We will do and we will hear all that G‑d commands us.” Leaving Aaron and Hur in charge in the Israelite camp, Moses ascends Mount Sinai and remains there for forty days and forty nights to receive the Torah from G‑d.
Portion Overview by Video
A Writer Talks About the “People Of The Book”
Are Laws Just Oppressive Restrictions?
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Multi-media work by Zachary L. Very Special Arts-DC ARTiculate Program. June 2011.
Moses Receives the Tablets of the Law (1868 painting by João Zeferino da Costa)