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Mishpatim 5760


Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Kalman Packouz

I was suspect that the Beauty Tips were not
really from Audrey Hepburn. Fortunately, a reader wrote in with the
following news: "The first 3 paragraphs of "Beauty Tips" were
written, not by Audrey Hepburn, but by the late humorist Sam
Levenson. They can be found in his book, In One Era & Out the
Other, on pages 176 and 190 of the hardcover edition." It seems
that Audrey Hepburn actually quoted Sam Levenson ... and then
Sam Levenson evidently got edited out in the editions being sent
around the internet ...

As long as Sam Levenson is being attributed, I'd like to
share with you his classic:


"It's a free world. You don't have to like Jews, but if you
don't, I suggest that you boycott certain Jewish products like:

  • insulin, discovered by Dr. Minkoski;
  • the vaccine for hepatitis, discovered by Baruch Blumberg;
  • chlorhydrate for convulsions, discovered by Dr. J. Von Liebig;
  • the Wassermann test for syphilis;
  • streptomycin, discovered by Dr. Selman Abraham Waxman;
  • the polio pill by Dr. Albert Sabin; and
  • the polio vaccine by Dr. Jonas Salk."

"Good! Boycott! But humanitarianism requires that my people offer all these gifts to all the people of the world. Fanaticism requires that all bigots accept diabetes, hepatitis, convulsions, syphilis, infectious diseases and infantile paralysis."

"You want to be mad? Be mad! But I’m telling you, you ain't
going to feel so good."

And speaking of anti-Semitism, here is a fascinating
observation from Professor Michael Curtis of Rutgers University:

"Everybody has a people that they hate; a group you don't like, that are threatening you. But the uniqueness of anti-Semitism lies in the fact that no other people in the world have been charged simultaneously with alienation from society and with cosmopolitanism; with being capitalist exploiters and also
revolutionary communists; with having a materialistic mentality or being a people of the book. We are accused of being both militant aggressors and cowardly pacifists; adherents to a superstitious religion and agents of modernism. We uphold a rigid law and are also morally decadent. We have a chosen people mentality and an inferior human nature; we are both arrogant and timid; individualist and communally adherent; we are guilty of both the crucifixion of
Jesus to Christians and to others we are held to account for the invention of Christianity. Everything and its opposite becomes an explanation for anti-Semitism."

NEXT WEEK: The "Why" of Anti-Semitism!

Portion of the Week

One of the longest Torah portions, containing 23 positive
commandments and 30 negative precepts. 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 states, "If a person steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay five oxen for an ox and four sheep for the sheep" (Exodus 21:37). Why is the fine for stealing a sheep less than the fine for stealing an ox? What lesson can we learn from this for our lives?

Rashi, the great 13th century commentator, cites the Sages
of the Talmud that the reason the thief pays less for a sheep is
because he has to carry it on his shoulders to run away faster when
stealing it. Running with a sheep on one's shoulders in public is
embarrassing, and this embarrassment is a partial punishment in

Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm comments that if even a
coarse thief experiences a slight embarrassment which lightens the
punishment, then all the more so if one suffers embarrassment or
humiliation while doing a good deed, the action is elevated and the
reward will be very great!

Our lesson: According to the pain and difficulty of
performing a mitzvah is the reward. If others mock or denigrate
your efforts to do a mitzvah, then focus not on the temporal pain but
the greatness and the eternity of the reward!

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