Hebrew Vision News Exclusive
by Miykael Qorbanyahu aka The End Time Scribe
The Talmud teaches us that if one wishes to be reckoned a chasid, a truly pious person, he must fulfill the details, the minutiae of the laws of the Talmudic order of nezikin. Nezikin concerns itself with all of the laws that appear in Mishpatim, which deal with relationships between people as enunciated in the Ten Commandments given at Sinai. There is no hope for true piety and service of [Elohim] without working out every aspect of the details. For the holiness of [Yisraelite] life lies solely in those details…Mishpatim is the rock of goodness upon which all [Yisraelite] ideas of fairness and kindness among people are based. This parshah is worthy of our continued attention, study, and fulfillment.’ – Rabbi Berel Wein Ideals and Details
And Mosheh came and related to the people all the Words of יהוה and all the right-rulings. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘all the Words which יהוה has spoken we shall do’.
This week’s parashat, Mishpatim, presents one of the most significant and all important, fundamental roles to be assumed by the righteous; judgment. Derived from the root word shaphat (שָׁפַט), which implies the obligation to pronounce sentence, judge or govern as a law-giver, decide controversy, litigate, defend, vindicate or condemn, we are formally introduced into the actual standards by which the community was to, first and foremost, govern itself, individually and collectively, for the purpose of establishing a harmonious, peaceful order and not bringing judgment upon individual and nation. The word mishpat (מִשְׁפָּט), however, is a reference to the process of the release of wisdom and uttering of Truth to manifest the positions of Life’s fullness as signs of discerning our gathered mutuality. In other words, judgment is the speaking of Truth to those who have trekked outside of the order of Torah in order to bring about the proper existence of life so as to maintain balance, harmony and homeostasis in society.
What is interesting to note about this week’s parashat is that the Torah’s focus on the right-rulings, or ordinances, is inclusive of civil law, property rights, marital relations, human rights, damages and restitutions, as well as religious observances. All of this was to establish justice in Yisraelite society, and ultimately the world. In fact, the Stone Edition Artscroll Series Tanach commentary on Mishpatim says,
The juxtaposition of this sidrah (dealing primarily with civil and tort law) with the Ten Commandments and the laws of the Altar provide a startling insight into Judaism. Religion is not limited to ritual and spirituality. To the contrary, all areas of life are intertwined and holiness derives from Halachically correct business dealings no less than from piety in matters of ritual.
Stone Edition Tanach. pg. 186
It is this holistic approach to life, inclusive of the spiritual practices to which peculiarized Yisrael from other nations, that truly made this nation a unique aberration in terms of its integrated approach to life. For Yisrael, social justice and spiritual consciousness were analogous and inseparable so as typified by the lives and missions of the prophets who arose to pronounce judgment on the lawless, wicked and unrepentant. Yet, it was the prophets intent to evoke repentance and cause the member, or members, who have breached the bonds of the covenant law to be restored to it by making the necessary amends.
Intent on enforcing a restorative form of justice, we find throughout this portion that there is an emphasis on integrity and morality that is touched upon. While intellectualism is a strong character trait that is admired by Yisraelites, honor and righteousness by far outweighs it due to the wide-spread reverberations that such behavior and character have on society. This is because a mere intellectual apprehension of the Torah is not sufficient in order to bring forth its inherent intent, which is exemplified by the spirit of the Law; for one can feign righteousness while in fact shirking individual responsibility and dynamic group accountability. This is known as hypocrisy and what Rabbi Maran Yahoshua spoke of as relates to the leadership of His day when He stated that
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on the seat of Mosheh. Therefore, whatever they say to you to guard, guard and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders, but with their finger they do not wish to move them.
Of this hypocritical portrayal of righteousness in observance of Torah, rabbi Berel Wein states in article entitled Laws and Legality that
Law alone is not the safeguard of society and human values. A sense of morality and an inner compass that points to right and wrong are the true guarantees of the justness of the rule of law in human affairs.
To confirm this matter, the great Torah scholar Moshe ben Maimon, aka the Rambam or Maimonides, says this about the essentiality of morality in his most excellent treatise, The Guide for the Perplexed;
One should beware not to be a naval b’reshut ha Torah (a base person who is technically observing the law of the Torah). He further states: This is the pattern of our Torah – after stating the laws of judges, courts, and monetary and business matters, and cautioning us not to steal or to be otherwise [legally or technically] dishonest, it then demands of us that we live up to the great general rule ‘and you shall do what is just and good in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim.’ One should introduce into his behavior the moral rightness and fairness and do more than the law demands in order to accommodate his fellow human beings.
This principle is further articulated in the teachings of Rabbi Maran Yahoshua ben Yoseph, who informs us of the necessary heart condition of the observer of Torah as relates to the letter of the law. In fact, what Rabbi Maran Yahoshua was teaching is a rabbinic principle that suggests going beyond the letter of the law called lifnim meshurat hadin לפנים משורת הדין. Literally translated as between the lines of the law, we see Rabbi Maran Yahoshua expounding on the the Torah’s injunction to not murder with this profound insight,
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens. You heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment. But I say to you that whoever is wroth with his brother without a cause shall be liable to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raka!’ shall be liable to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to fire of Gehenna.
What this all boils down to is a matter of interpretation, which is a matter called Halacha. Halacha is, in essence, the practical application of Torah law in the life of the nation. Taken from the root word halak (הֲלַך), this word suggests the manner by which one is disposed to walk on a path, and further is understood as a manner by which one is able to delineate or define the course and direction of branching. As a matter of judgment or discernment, this process involves establishing a proper ruling on how to observe the principles of the Torah as well as the necessary recompense for the violation, or infraction, of the law.
Interestingly, there were rulings made by rabbi’s, which when enacted outside of the bounds of the Torah’s meaning, supplanted the original intent of the Torah’s instructional purpose. Called takkanah, the Jewish Encyclopedia defines this word as
An enactment which (1) revises an ordinance that no longer satisfies the requirements of the times or circumstances, or which (2), being deduced from a Biblical passage, may be regarded as new.
The subversion of the Torah is what is considered legalism, and it was this misinterpretation of the Torah that Rabbi Maran Yahoshua battled against during His ministry on earth. To combat this, He clearly stated and made it unequivocally known that His relationship to the Torah was, in fact, synergistic and complementary to its overall schema. In fact, as relates to His teachings of the Torah, Rabbi Maran Yahoshua said this;
Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.
To counteract the ever rampant hypocrisy present among the leadership of His day, Mashiyach Yahoshua employed the principle of self-examination prior to judging others. Without absolving the greater and collective responsibility of providing right-ruling through the process of righteous judgment, He adjures His taught ones to exercise sound and fair judgment after first establishing oneself in the Torah. Of this we read the following;
Do not judge, lest you be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged. And with the same measure you use, it shall be measured to you. And why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the plank in your own eye? Or how is it that you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the splinter out of your eye,’ and see, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you shall see clearly to remove the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
This is the standard of righteousness and the correct use of right-fuling as identified by Rabbi Maran Yahoshua who informed the corrupt leadership to look beneath the surface [in order to] judge correctly.
As relates to one’s personal conduct, according the Jewish Encyclopedia the one who is considered righteous is the one who is found in the right at the conclusion of a legal proceeding. Suggesting judicial investigation and cross examination, the status of one who is considered righteous is a matter of being aligned with the right-rulings of Torah, according to, not only one’s actions, but also one’s thoughts and deeds. The principle that typifies the imperative dynamic of action in the cultural expression of faith known as Yahudot, or Judaism, is identified as orthopraxy which is in contradistinction with the Western theological criterion of orthodoxy. Defined as correctness or the orthodoxy of practice and action, orthopraxy is a clear demonstration of one’s convictions and principles, as well as one’s character. This understanding was brought to light when Rabbi Maran Yahoshua said
By their fruits you shall know them. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So every good tree yields good fruit, but a rotten tree yields wicked fruit. A good tree is unable to yield wicked fruit, and a rotten tree to yield good fruit.
For Rabbi Maran Yahoshua and the sect of Nazarenes that came to embody and share His authoritative teachings on Torah, it was the focus on establishing and renewing the Mosaic standards of orthopraxy, justice and righteous judgment according to the right-rulings of Torah which served as their mission in repairing the world. Intent on restoring a Halacha that was rooted not in the traditions of man, but according to the commandments of Elohim, it is understood by both scholars and the faithful alike that both the Four Hebrew Synoptic Witnesses of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, along with the Didache, or the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, captures the original teachings of the Torah’s greatest expositor of all time who was inspired and sent by the Most High to resurrect the consciousness of right-ruling and righteousness for all of Yisrael.
In fact, so profound were His teachings that the words He spoke to the masses inspired them to collectively assume their original position as a kingdom of priests and set-apart nation by empowering them to bind and loose, a familiar Hebraic idiom that refers to the ability to permit or forbid, according to the right-rulings; a duty that had come to be strictly reserved for the spiritual leadership of the rabbinate, scribes, lawyers and priesthood. Though originally, the act of binding and loosing was to be a responsibility that the people as a whole were to assume, it was the lack of Torah study by the masses, coupled with the covetous desire for power by those in power that brought about a societal imbalance which led to the corrupted forms of takkanot, or rabbinic rulings, that had come to be so distant from the original intent of the Torah.
That the exercising of righteous judgment is a responsibility of the entire nation of Yisrael, first among our individual selves, and then with our neighbors, is an axiom that we must reassume in order to bring forth the order of a just society that must be grappled with on all levels. For as we see in our day, that when the people are ignorant of their rights and don’t govern themselves in the principles of law, chaos and injustice are the order of the day. However, when one and all are full immersed in the principles of law and order, then society will experience the peace of justice and righteousness that it was created to exude. This is what the expectation of our Father and King is for Yisrael, as we vowed to our Power that all the Words which יהוה has spoken we shall do. It is apparent in history that both our ancestors and our present generation have failed miserably at fulfilling this oath that was made for all time by our predecessors on Mt. Sinai. This, however, is the reason why the Son of Elohim was incarnated as the Word made flesh, to reintroduce the Sons and Daughters of Adam to both their true nature and their responsibility as the righteous judges of the Earth. For as Moshe Rabbeinu brought the Law to our ancestors in order to establish them in the right-rulings of the covenant, it was Rabbi Maran Mashiyach Yahoshua who demonstrated to us how to internalize the Torah and carry it out in righteousness for the purpose of bringing forth the Light of truth, justice and peace, as it is written,
For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only brought-forth Son of Elohim. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For everyone who is practising evil matters hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But the one doing the truth comes to the light, so that his works are clearly seen, that they have been wrought in Elohim.