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Mishpatim 5771

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING! How would you feel if you won the lottery? Most people would feel elated - one of the best days of their life! Why? In truth, nothing has changed. You don't have the money in hand. Nothing has actually changed, all the changes are going to happen tomorrow. Today, right now, your life hasn't altered one iota.

However, right now you're thrilled. Why? The answer is, how you think about tomorrow changes how you feel today. You will be able to pay off your mortgage, retire debts, help the kids buy homes, set up funds for the grandchildren's educations and help all of the organizations that you've always wanted to help in a big way. That means if you knew something really good was going to happen tomorrow, then today would be great.

The one thing that the Almighty doesn't do well is second best. Everyday He gives us what is best for us. Your life is as good as it can possibly get; God can't make it any better. If God could make your life better, He would. The challenges we face in life are what we require; to give us the opportunity to develop our character,to develop spiritually and to come closer to the Almighty.

So, why don't we win the lottery? Because it's not good for us.

Have you ever heard of the "Curse of the Lottery"? It is almost proverbial that if one wins the lottery, he will end up divorced, pursued, sued, sometimes addicted ... and eventually broke and broken. Winning has led to the murder of the winner by close relatives who want to inherit the money, the death of children and death of grandchildren. Probably more than one "winner" has said in retrospect, "Had I known what would have happened from winning, I would have torn up the ticket!"

Yet, we all believe it won't happen to us. We will be different. Obviously, God disagrees.

Which life would you rather live: a) "curse of the lottery" or b) life without winning the lottery? (I know what you are thinking, "I want to win the lottery without the curse!")

Let me repeat, God doesn't do second best. Giving you the lottery would be second best, if not worse.

That means you are living the best life you could possibly live; if it could be any better, it would. The only reason you are not jumping with joy on a constant basis, is that you want to believe that having the things you don't have would make your life better.

Join the club! There are approximately 6 billion people on this planet and they all think that there are things in life that would complete their lives. And they are all wrong.

You have everything you need to be as happy as you can possibly be; however, it's easier to blame your misery on assumed lacks than it is to enjoy life.

Nobody is walking around saying: "Life Doesn't Get Any Better Than This" or "It couldn't be better." Not Bill Gates, nor Warren Buffet, nor the President, nor anyone. Everyone thinks they are missing something. Money, friends, love, intelligence, luck, health, the list goes on and on.

We all want to believe we are missing something so that we don't have to face the reality that we are really responsible for our own misery. It's very interesting, but this is so much easier to see in other people, and of course they can see it in you.

When you start to think about why you don't have what you want, you can start to realize that what you do have, and similarly, what you don't have, is really good for you.

The trick of life is to want to be the kind of person where winning the lottery, or whatever you want in life would not ruin your life, and hopefully tomorrow that will happen. But at the same time to realize the life you have now, and the one you are going to get tomorrow is the best it could be. "Life Doesn't Get Any Better Than This." Say it often and enjoy! (with special thanks to Rabbi Steve Baars,

For more on "Life Challenges" go to!


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Torah Portion of the Week

One of the most mitzvah-filled Torah portions, containing 23 positive commandments and 30 negative commandments. Included are laws regarding: the Hebrew manservant and maidservant, manslaughter, murder, injuring a parent, kidnapping, cursing a parent, personal injury, penalty for killing a slave, personal damages, injury to slaves, categories of damages and compensatory restitution, culpability for personal property damage, seduction, occult practices, idolatry, oppression of widows, children and orphans.

The portion continues with the laws of: lending money, not cursing judges or leaders, tithes, first-born sons, justice, returning strayed animals, assisting the unloading of an animal fallen under its load, Sabbatical year, Shabbat, the Three Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot & Succot).

Mishpatim concludes with the promise from the Almighty to lead us into the land of Israel, safeguard our journey, ensure the demise of our enemies and guarantee our safety in the land - if we uphold the Torah and do the mitzvot. Moses makes preparations for himself and for the people and then ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Before Moses ascended Mt. Sinai to receive the stone Tablets, he and seventy elders were at the foot of the mountain. There:

"They saw a vision of the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a sapphire brick, like the essence of a clear sky" (Exodus 24:10).

What can we learn from their vision?

Rashi comments that the brick was in the presence of the Almighty during the time the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt to remind Him of their suffering since they were forced to build with bricks in their slavery. "The essence of a clear sky" is a reminder that once they were liberated there was light and joy before the Almighty.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that whenever the Torah tells us about the attributes of the Almighty, the purpose is to teach us how we should strive to emulate Him. When someone else suffers, it is not sufficient for us just to try to feel his suffering in the abstract, we should try to ease his suffering if we can. We should also do some concrete action that will clearly remind us of the person's suffering - rather than just forgetting it and continuing on with our lives.

Even at the time of redemption and joy, it is important to recall the previous suffering that one experienced. This adds an entire dimension to the joy. Many people would just like to forget all their suffering when it is over. The proper attitude is to remember it, and this will give a person an even greater appreciation for the good that he experiences.


(or go to

Jerusalem 4:34
Guatemala 5:41 - Hong Kong 5:51 - Honolulu 6:01
J'Burg 6:43 - London 4:24 - Los Angeles 5:01
Melbourne 8:19 - Mexico City 6:08 - Miami 5:43
New York 4:50 - Singapore 7:00 - Toronto 5:05


Will is power.


With Deep Appreciation to

James and Gregory Goetz


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