Shabbat Commentary

9/310 Feb: Shabbat Shekalim (Mishpatim) comes in 4:49 pm, goes out 5:54 pm

Sometimes we hope for someone else not to succeed. We wish for someone that has wronged us to fail. These are human impulses.  However, Parashat Mishpatim challenges this natural instinct and forces us to check our hopes of the other’s demise at the door.

In Shemot 23:4-5 we read, “When you encounter your enemy’s ox or mule wandering, you must take it back to him. When you see the mule of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nevertheless raise it with him”.  The verses tell us that we must in fact go out of our way to help our enemy!  One possibility is that it is really about helping the animal who should not be treated as our enemy — even though the owner is.   The second possibility is that these laws are meant to push us outside of our comfort zone to interact with the enemy that we would not do without this commandment.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman.

February 8, 2018