> Weekly Torah Portion > Shabbat Shalom > Shabbat Shalom Weekly

Mishpatim 5777

Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Ever wonder why you do not maintain a sense of happiness after finally obtaining a material goal? The late Mel Fisher, a Florida treasure hunter, spent 14 years searching for the Atocha's sunken treasure and then found it! After the immediate joy, he felt depressed and ... immediately started another search. Why do we continue to strive to obtain more and more things in our life, but often don't find them satisfying? Below is an excerpt from Dearer Than Life -- Making Your Life More Meaningful shared with permission of its author, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. I think it gives great insight:

"Much of Western culture appears to consider happiness as the ultimate goal in life, and defines ideal happiness as freedom from all distress and enjoyment of all pleasures. This is certainly not the Torah concept, which considers human life to be mission-oriented, with every person having a reason for his existence and a specific assignment to complete on earth. If being content were all there is to seek in life, then endowing man with the capacity of intelligence was counterproductive. Cows in the pasture are undoubtedly far more content than sophisticated humans. Seeking meaning in merely being content hardly befits an intelligent person.

"In order for a person to have self-esteem and a feeling of value, life must have meaning. In fact, meaning and value are inseparable.

" 'Esteem' comes from the Latin word that means to evaluate or to appraise. Let us look at what is the basis of self-esteem and how we ascribe value to anything.

"If we look around at all the objects in our homes, we will find that with the exception of items that have sentimental value only, we value things for one of two reasons: aesthetic or functional. Thus, you may have a handsome grandfather clock whose mechanism has broken and cannot be repaired. You nonetheless keep the clock because it is an attractive piece of furniture and it beautifies your home. However, if your can opener broke, you would undoubtedly get rid of it, because it has no aesthetic value, and since it can no longer serve its purpose it has no value at all.

"Let us now apply these criteria to ourselves. There may be a few people who are so attractive that they can consider themselves ornamental, but most of us cannot really think of ourselves as having great aesthetic value. This leaves us only with function as a basis for value, and raises the question: Just what is our function? What purpose do we serve?

"While the hedonist may at least, temporarily, gratify his physical desires, can he really find purpose in being content? What can the hedonist do when the existential question of finding meaning and purpose in life intrudes itself into his consciousness? Too often his only recourse is to try and distract himself from such thinking, and not infrequently he may render himself oblivious to the tormenting feeling of worthlessness by numbing his mind with substance abuse." (end of excerpt)

So, if there is no ultimate meaning in comfort, how does one fill his life with real meaning? If one asks himself what is worth dying for he will have a better understanding of what is worth living for. Ultimately, it will be a spiritual goal -- to transform oneself from an earthy creature to a spiritual entity, to emulate the Almighty, to perfect the world, to do kindness. Rabbi Twerski's book explores the pieces of the puzzle and clarifies the path for making one's life more meaningful and more satisfying. It is available at your local Jewish bookstore or at


Hear classes on...
Download to Go
or Listen FREE On-Line


Torah Portion of the week

Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 - 24:18

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

The Torah tells us of one's responsibility if he injures another person, "... and he shall be healed" (Exodus 21:19) -- meaning that the injurer must pay the doctor bills for the damaged person. The Talmud (Brochos 60a) teaches us that from this verse is derived the principle that a doctor is permitted to heal. Why does the Torah need to tell us that a doctor is permitted to heal?

The Chozeh of Lublin commented on this that a doctor only has permission to heal. He does not have a right to despair about a person's being healed. Even though a doctor might see from his experience that people in similar situations usually do not recover, the Almighty has the final say about any person's recovery. Never give up hope! There are plenty of people who have lived for many years after doctors have said that they would not get well.


Candle Lighting Times

February 24
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:57
Guatemala 5:51 - Hong Kong 6:07 - Honolulu 6:16
J'Burg 6:25 - London 5:14 - Los Angeles 5:27
Melbourne 7:49 - Mexico City 6:22 - Miami 6:02
New York 5:24 - Singapore 7:02 - Toronto 5:42

Quote of the Week

It's not what you are
that holds you back,
it's what you think you are not



With Heartfelt Gratitude
Daniel & Lillian Kamis
Happy 39th Anniversary
Kalman & Shoshana

Love, Dad & Mom Packouz

1 2 3 2,899

🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram