Torah Portion

Mishpatim

משפטים

Exodus 21:1-24:18
Jeremiah 34:8-22 & 33:25-26
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Is the Autumn Ingathering Festival at the Beginning, Middle, or End of the Year?

Is the Autumn Ingathering Festival at the Beginning, Middle, or End of the Year?

The Feast of Ingathering is “at the tzet (צֵאת) of the year” (Exod 23:16). This phrase is generally translated as “the end of the year,” but a closer look at the meaning of the Hebrew verb in biblical Hebrew suggests it may mean the beginning.

Harvey N. Bock
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How Exodus Revises the Laws of Hammurabi

How Exodus Revises the Laws of Hammurabi

A close look at the laws of assault recorded in Exodus’ Covenant Collection demonstrates that the author knew the Laws of Hammurabi and revised them to fit with Israelite legal and ethical conceptions.

Prof.
David P. Wright
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Does the Torah Differentiate between an Unpaid and a Paid Bailee?

Does the Torah Differentiate between an Unpaid and a Paid Bailee?

For the first nine hundred years after the writing of the Mishnah in the early third century, Jews thought that laws about bailees or custodians (שומרים) in the Mishnah and in the Talmud corresponded closely to the plain meaning (peshat) of the Torah. But in the Middle Ages, Rashbam challenged that assumption, proposing an understanding of the Torah that contradicted Jewish law.

Prof. Rabbi
Marty Lockshin
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Bring the Man to the Carcass or the Carcass to the Man?

Bring the Man to the Carcass or the Carcass to the Man?

A 2000-year-old question on how to read a single word in the Torah has generated different opinions on how a custodian for someone’s animal should go about proving that the animal was killed by a beast and not stolen.

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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What Was the Sin of the Golden Calf?

What Was the Sin of the Golden Calf?

Many scholars, traditional and academic, believe it was worship of another god, the first commandment in the Decalogue, but what Aaron actually claims about the calf points to a different collection of laws.

Prof.
Joel Baden
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Does the Decalogue Prohibit Stealing?

Does the Decalogue Prohibit Stealing?

Generally translated as “do not steal,” the Rabbis make a compelling case for understanding lo tignov in the Decalogue to be a prohibition against the more serious offense of kidnapping, or, in modern terms, human trafficking.

Prof. Rabbi
Jonathan Magonet
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Who Is the Eved Ivri?

Who Is the Eved Ivri?

The the designation ivri in the legal corpora of the Pentateuch is found only in the laws of slavery. So who is this ivri slave and why was he sold?

Dr.
Albert D. Friedberg
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What Is Wrong with Charging Interest?

What Is Wrong with Charging Interest?

The Torah prohibits lending to poor people with interest. Why did Jewish law include business loans and how did this effect the law’s original purpose?

Prof.
Michael L. Satlow
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The Law of the Goring Ox: Is It Neutered?

The Law of the Goring Ox: Is It Neutered?

The word שור in Hebrew can refer to an ox or a bull, but which animal is the protagonist of the celebrated law of שור נגח, “the goring bovine”? 

Dr.
Elaine Goodfriend
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Civil Laws from Sinai

Civil Laws from Sinai

The religiosity of civil law and the obligation to use only Jewish courts: Rashi’s fourfold homily on Exodus 21:1.

Prof. Rabbi
Herbert Basser
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Highlighting Juxtaposition in the Torah

Highlighting Juxtaposition in the Torah

The well-known rabbinic principle of אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה (there is no chronological order in the Torah) is often understood to be a hermeneutical solution to a textual, peshat problem. The principle, however, should be understood as midrashic, formulated to highlight other reasons for which biblical accounts could have been juxtaposed.

Dr.
Isaac Gottlieb
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What Did God Write on the Tablets of Stone?

What Did God Write on the Tablets of Stone?

“YHWH said to Moses: ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay there so that I might give you the tablets of stone and the teaching and the commandment that I have written to teach them.’”—Exodus 24:12

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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Giving Your Firstborn Son to God

Giving Your Firstborn Son to God

The Torah (Exodus 22:28) commands Israel to give its firstborn sons to God, and makes no mention of redeeming them. What exactly are they being commanded to do?

Dr.
Eve Levavi Feinstein
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Shabbat of the Full Moon

Shabbat of the Full Moon

Early biblical laws also demand a cessation of labor every seven days, but originally had nothing to do with Shabbat. Before it came to designate the seventh day in a weekly cycle, Shabbat referred to the time of Full Moon, which together with New Moon was widely observed throughout the ancient Near East.

Dr.
Jacob L. Wright
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The Prohibition of Meat and Milk: Its Origins in the Text

The Prohibition of Meat and Milk: Its Origins in the Text

A bold interpretation of the verse “do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk,” from medieval commentator Bekhor Shor (12th cent. CE) leads to an intriguing academic explanation of inner-biblical exegesis charting the development of the mitzvah. 

Dr. Rabbi
Zev Farber
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Mishpatim

משפטים

Exodus 21:1-24:18

וְנָתַתָּה נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ, עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן שֵׁן תַּחַת שֵׁן יָד תַּחַת יָד רֶגֶל תַּחַת רָגֶל

שמות כא:כג-כד

the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot

Exod 21:23-24

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Exodus

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