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Mishpatim 5766


Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!   While studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, I took a political science course from professor who started each class with ten minutes of un-funny jokes. Un-funny is being gracious; they were real groaners. All three hundred students in the amphitheater suffered in silence to the daily torment.

One day a student brought into class a "laughing machine" - when one hits the lever a mechanical, hollow taped laugh comes forth. Upon the completion of the first joke, he hit the lever. The people in the immediate vicinity could hear it and laughed heartily at this feeble, but appropriate protest. Other students, who could not hear the taped laughter, could not believe that there was a group of students who actually found one of the prof's jokes funny. They broke into hysterical laughter at those students laughing at the machine. And the professor - all he heard were peals of laughter from his students, something he had been waiting for 30 years! And you know what? For the next hour the professor abandoned his lecture and kept telling jokes! And that is the power of positive reinforcement! Remember it with your kids, your spouse and your co-workers - maybe even your boss.

However, if you really want to feel good about others and help them, then the following excerpt from My Father, My King by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242), will really help! Put this on your bulletin board!


Hear your Father, your King, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, saying to you:

Love and respect all of My children. Have a deep and profound sense of respect for each person you encounter. The person to whom you are talking is created in My image. By being respectful towards every single person created in My image, you are respecting Me. The greater your respect for Me, the greater your respect for those created in My image.

Love others as yourself. The more you focus on the good qualities of each individual whom you encounter, the greater will be your positive feelings towards that person. With some of My children, doing so will be easy. Do so even when it is difficult.

Identify with other people and you will feel an increased love towards them. Realize that you and others are all souls and have one Creator.

When you experience love towards others, your feeling is reciprocated. Radiating love towards others will make you beloved. Wherever you go, you will be welcome. You will transform strangers into friends. Ultimately, by mastering the ability to love unconditionally, you will be able to transform enemies into friends.

Especially when relating to someone with whom you find it difficult to interact, hear Me telling you, "Right now you are speaking to someone created in the image of your Father. Speak with love and respect."

For more on "Positive Reinforcement" Go to!


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Torah 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.

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Dvar Torah
based on 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 that 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 itself.

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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The person without a purpose is like
a ship without a rudder.

--  Thomas Carlyle

Happy 28th Anniversary
Kalman & Shoshana Packouz
with love,
Dad and Mom

Mazal Tov on the Engagement of
Eli Lebovics
and Chana Packouz

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