For Rabbi Dr. Reb Mimi Feigleson, this week’s Torah Portion – Mishpatim – helps us focus and deepen our relationship with God. She uses a Hassidic text to light up the questions on our path. Feigelson is Schechter Rabbinical Seminary’s Spiritual Mentor and a lecturer in Rabbinics and Hassidic Thought.
.וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶ
“And these are the statutes that you put in front of them.’
The opening verse of our Torah for this Shabbat: parasha Mishpatim.
Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, lived 1040-1105) says the following:
כְּשֻׁלְחָן הֶעָרוּךְ וּמוּכָן לֶאֱכֹל לִפְנֵי הָאָדָם
“As a table that is set and prepared for anyone to eat, for every person to eat.”
I hope that you can hear in the Hebrew שֻׁלְחָן עָרוּך (Shulchan Aruch)– we know that that is our book of law that we render Halakha based on for hundreds of years now.
Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Karo (writer of the Shulchan Aruch, lived 1488–1575) was a mystic and decipher of Halakha. Rashi, according to Prof. Moshe Idel, was also a commentator on the Torah, and on the Gemarah, the Talmud but also a mystic.
And when you hear this phrase Shulchan Aruch, I feel that Rashi is asking us to hear something beyond. It is also the mystic speaking.
What is he asking us to hear?
The Ma’or Einayim, the Hassidic master (Menachem Nachum Twersky of Chernobyl, lived 1730-1797) who was known to be the young student of the Ba’al Shem Tov, and some say even was supposed to be his successor, says the following in multiple places throughout his commentary the Ma’or Einayim (The Light of the Eyes):
It is known- and when he says נודע that means mystical secrets.
היות התורה נצחית בכל אדם ובכל הזמן
The Torah is eternal in all people and in all times
ומכל מקום צריך להיות כן בכל הזמן ולקראת תורה ושמורה דרך
In every place it needs to be all the time for those who are with the Torah and keep it.
Regardless to what the details of the story are we need to find a way to connect to it in every generation in each and every one of us and bringing together Rashi and Ma’or Einayim.
Here we are in parashat Mishpatim right after receiving the Torah.
I don’t know about you, but what is this detailed portion with so many different mitzvot. What does it come to tell us? Especially the first section talking about the Israelite, the servant.
What is happening here?
And I want to tell you, that for me creating a one-time extravaganza: Matan Torah (The Giving of the Torah), the lights, and the explosions and the fireworks. You would think this is the performance of a rock-star. A one-time performance is a lot of work, but anyone can actually pull it off!
But to stay in a relationship. How do we sustain a relationship? What do the details of our life look like? In this case, the details of our relationship with God appear to be?
What kind of relationship do we want with God?
So when I look at the first section of our Torah portion, talking about the Hebrew servant who says:
אהבתי את אדוני…לא אצא חופשי
I love my master; I will not go out.
And the response is:
And he will serve him forever.
I say the one and only, the divine mother, master of the world:
You give me 10 Commandments. You think that is what I want from you?
I want so much more from you. I want a relationship that is forever. And it is not about checks and balances and it is not about what I did or did not do.
אהבתי את אדוני
I love you.
I am asking the master of the world, the divine mother אמא אלה the one and only, to respond to me. I hear your quest that you want so much more from it than I asked for initially.
Forgive me. And I want that of our relationship.
I ask you: What kind of relationship do you want from Torah?
What kind of relationship do you want with the mitzvot?
What kind of relationship do you want with the one and only, with the divine?
I leave you with that question…..
SHABBAT SHALOM FROM SHECHTER
Reb Mimi serves as the Mashpiah Ruchanit (spiritual mentor) of the Rabbinical School, and teaches Talmud and Hassidic Thought. She will guide and walk with the rabbinical students on their personal-spiritual journeys. She served as the Mashpiah Ruchanit of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles for the last 16 years. Prior to this Reb Mimi was one of the founding administration and faculty members of the “Yakar” Beit Midrash and community.