3 minutes to read
Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Mishpatim - Exodus 21:1-24:18
Life would be so much easier if problems didn’t constantly arise. It seems like just when you get everything under control you’re blindsided by a challenge that buries your positive outlook. Darkness surrounds you. Waiting for the good times to return takes too long. It can lead to despair. How do you recover the brightness of good times? Parshas Mishpatim has the answer:
“And these are the ordinances that you will place before them.” (Shemos/Exodus 21:1).
The parsha this Sabbath has 53 mitzvahs: 23 positive ones and 30 negative ones, which guide the conduct of the Israelites. They cover a broad range of institutions, crimes, activities, and celebrations. Toward the end of Mishpatim, G-d promises to lead the Children of Israel into the Land of Israel and conquer their enemies.
The Ten Commandments and The Ordinances
This week’s parsha follows immediately after G-d gives the Ten Commandments. Since the Ten Commandments were given in the morning, the ordinances were given in the evening. The Hebrew words for these two times of day reveal an important idea.
The Hebrew word for evening, erev, comes from the same root as mixture. Evening, as compared to night, is the time when light and darkness intermingle. Objects can be seen, but their details are becoming obscured by ever deepening shadow.
Morning is called boker. It comes from the same root as the concept of examination. Shape and color can be seen in sharp detail. Daylight, then, is the time to gain understanding and clarity about life.
The Ten Commandments endure because they were born in a moment of clarity. But just as evening follows morning, vagueness follows clarity and must be renewed every day. The Ten Commandments that seemed so clear needed the explanation of the ordinances to renew their power.
Maintaining a Bright Life
Living a positive life is easy during the “morning.” When things are going well life seems to promise greater prosperity and more loving relationships. But the clarity of such times is inevitably obscured by the “evening.” Troubles arise. Potential is overshadowed by darkness. How do you regain the light of morning?
You must create ordinances, regular practices, for yourself. Like the ordinances that follow the Ten Commandments, they will rejuvenate you. The simpler and more compelling the better:
- Take five to ten minutes each day when you will visualize your ideal life.
- Create a ritual to connect you with your spouse, such as holding her chair when she sits down at the table or pouring his water at a meal.
- Think up a mantra then say it every morning, standing up, out loud, with a passionate convincing voice.
- Write out a compelling personal mission statement and read it aloud to yourself once a day.
- Find a meaningful or inspirational passage from a book to read once or twice a day, every day.
Make sure to put your rituals in your to-do list.
In order to sustain a positive life glowing brightly, you must build into it the structure to move through the downtimes. Life inevitably cycles. Have several short, inspiring actions you can take throughout your day. Practice them every day to create spontaneous responses that guide you back on track. As inevitably as evening follows morning, you can make morning and its positive, renewing light return.
What rituals do you have for staying positive? Please comment below.
Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!