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    These – and these (Mishpatim)

    andThe sidra opens with an “and”: “And these are the judgments you shall place before them”.

    The “and” clearly links this sidra with last week’s, which describes the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, when, hushed into silence, the whole of creation waited for the Divine voice that proclaimed, “I am the Lord your God…” and enunciated the Ten Commandments.

    And all the people answered as one, “All that the Lord has said we will obey.”

    This week we have the means whereby that magnificent moment could become permanent.

    Yes, compared with the drama and majesty of the Ten Commandments, the rules of law placed before us this week seem like a mass of detail. But they are all part of one Revelation.

    To be told not to kill, steal or commit adultery is breathtaking in its boldness, but it needs a structure and framework of civil and criminal law to translate it into a practical code able to govern a people’s daily life.

    The great moments in life are all exhilarating, but they tend to evaporate. As they say in London, “After the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dustman.” The day after a great event can be an anti-climax.

    We need little reminders that recall the emotion, the inspiration, the impact as long as we live.

    And that is why the laws of Mishpatim bring Sinai into everyday life.

    The Jew who keeps the commandments is there at Sinai again, standing with Moses and the Children of Israel who are alive once more.

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