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    Parshas Mishpatim. The word “mishpatim”
    (mishpat) means justice. It is a parsha of
    civil and ethical laws – laws that create a
    sphere of social justice in society.
    The mishpatim include – but are not limited
    to – returning lost items to the rightful
    owners; not causing stress or pain through
    either words or actions to a convert, widow
    or orphan; not to be the bearer of false
    rumors or gossip; not to accept bribes; the
    penalties for causing bodily injury or
    property damage; laws of moral offenses;
    laws of borrowing and lending; and staying
    far from falsehood.
    Simply put – to be a mentch!
    “V’eileh hamishpatim, And these are the
    laws…” (Shemos 21:1) Rashi questions
    why a new parsha begins with “v’eileh”
    meaning “and” these are.
    Our sages teach that “and” links Parshas
    Misahpatim to the previous parsha of Yisro
    – the parsha that tells of the giving of the
    Aseres HaDibros, the Ten Commandments.
    Just as the Aseres HaDibros were given at

    Sinai, so too were the mishpatim. Both are
    HaShem’s Torah. Both are fundamentals of
    Jewish life.
    Parshas Mishpatim tells us of Bnei Yisroel
    famously saying upon accepting the Torah
    “Na’aseh v’Nishma, we will do and we will
    listen.” How interesting that this pasuk is in
    Shemos 24:7, and is a mantra that should be
    on every Jew’s lips 24/7.
    The Midrash tells us that HaShem offered
    the Torah to all the nations of the world.
    Each one inquired as to what commandments
    are included. Each one found an
    objectionable law, thereby rejecting the gift
    of Torah. Only the Jewish people cried out
    “Na’aseh v’Nishma, we will do and we will
    listen”. Even before hearing all the details,
    Bnei Yisroel accepted Torah and mitzvos.
    Their emunah and bitachon in HaShem was
    so strong, that their acceptance was
    Na’aseh v’Nishma. Words repeated in every
    generation. Na’aseh – we will do, then
    v’Nishma – we will listen, we will learn. To
    immerse ourselves in the richness of Torah
    study. Na’aseh v’Nishma – a creed to live

    During the summer months, my
    mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
    a”h, would lecture at the Pine View
    Hotel, then a popular Catskills resort.
    One Friday morning, a young man
    showed up. He was very antagonistic
    and ready to challenge my mother to a
    debate in Jewish belief.
    My mother didn’t even go there.
    Instead, she invited him to join the
    family for Shabbos, and said that
    they’ll talk after Havdalah, when
    Shabbos was over.
    Na’aseh v’Nishma. Torah action first.
    To live as a Jew, to experience Shabbos,
    keep mitzvos, and then to study and to learn.
    My mother was so right. By the time
    Shabbos was over, after living through
    twenty-four hours of the most beautiful
    davening, seudos, zemiros and Torah
    lectures, he was no longer in debate mode,
    but ready to learn.
    Observing mitzvos is life transforming. It
    touches the neshama. The Baal Shem Tov
    teaches that true listening is not with one’s
    ears, but with one’s soul. To listen and let
    the words enter our neshama. To elevate
    our very being, enabling us to soar to new
    spiritual heights. When Torah enters the
    neshama, it impacts us in ways we can’t
    begin to imagine.
    “If you encounter your enemy’s ox or
    donkey wandering astray, you must return
    it to him.” (Shemos 23:4). One mitzva. So
    many lessons. To care not only for
    another’s well-being, but to show concern
    for their possessions. To go out of our way
    and make an effort to return a lost item to
    its rightful owner. The Torah uses the
    double expression “hosheiv t’shivenu”,
    meaning you shall return it again and
    again, even if one loses an article multiple
    times, there is still an obligation to return
    The pasuk mentions an “enemy’s” lost
    possession, conveying an important
    message. Acts of kindness are not only
    reserved for friends and family, everyone
    deserves a favor, even someone you may
    not get along with.
    Do a favor. Show a kindness. It’s the best
    way to foster positive relationships. It
    doesn’t have to be returning a lost item. It
    could be saying a kind word, offering to
    run an errand, bringing flowers or
    dropping off challa for Shabbos. Little
    things that mean so much. Small gestures
    that break down barriers and bring people
    Each of us is created with a cheilek elokah
    mi’maal, an inner G-dly spark from above.
    A touch of the Divine is within each of us. A
    spark we must honor and respect. Not only
    within ourselves, but within everyone
    around us who is similarly endowed with
    this special Heavenly spark.
    There is a story of returning lost property
    that made international headlines in 2013
    and stands out in my mind. It is a story of
    Rabbi Noach Muroff, then a yeshiva high
    school teacher in New Haven Connecticut.
    He purchased a desk for himself that he
    found on Craigslist for under $200.
    No matter how much he tried, the rabbi was
    unable to fit the desk through his doorway.
    Plan B came into action. Slowly he began
    taking the desk apart. To Rabbi Muroff’s
    great shock and surprise, there, hidden
    behind the drawers were bundles of bills —
    $98,000 in all.
    Rabbi Muroff knew exactly what he had to
    do. Even through the hour was late, 11:30
    PM, he called the previous owner, Patti.
    Patti was in utter disbelief. She spoke of an
    inheritance she had received many years
    earlier, and completely forgot where she hid
    The very next morning, the rabbi, his wife,
    and four children went to return the money
    to Patti. The rabbi spoke of taking his
    children along so they could see hashovas
    aveidah, returning lost items, in action. A
    life lesson he wanted them to experience
    With great appreciation, Patti wrote to the
    rabbi. “I do not think there are too many
    people in the world that would have done
    what you did.”
    To live a Torah life. To go above and beyond,
    and do the right thing. As the rabbi said on
    national TV, “The most important thing in
    life is to be honest.”