Dvar Torah for Parshat Mishpatim

Based on Likutey Halakhot, Dayanim 4:3

“In every case of misappropiation, whether it involves an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment or anything else that was [allegedly] lost…both parties’ claims must come before the elokim (judge)” (Exodus 22:8).

There are other Hebrew words for “a judge.” Why then, asks Reb Noson, is the word elokim, one of God’s holy names, used? (When transliterating God’s name into English we write Elokim, but Hebrew has no capital letters.) He answers that if the judge does his job properly he reveals the Elokut, Godliness, contained within the objects over which the litigants were contending. The halakhic (Jewish legal) decision he renders makes those physical objects Torah. Torah is Godliness and God’s unity.

This is why, Reb Noson continues, the Torah gives a comprehensive list of objects which can come under a elokim’s purview. Everything in the world—every thing—contains Godliness. It is that Godliness which brings and keeps the thing in existence, and it is that Godliness which gives the thing its purpose for being.

This is the essence of a din Torah, a Jewish-court case. When confusion sets in and clarity is on vacation—“Mine! “No! Mine!” “I delivered it.” “I didn’t receive it.” “It was a horse.” “It was a mule!”—the elokim draws forth from the litigants the history of their interaction. What did each say? When? What were they thinking? What the judges are doing is showing them that though they may have forgotten it at the time, every aspect and facet of business, and how each is dealt with, is Torah.

Most of us today don’t have much to do with oxen and donkeys. We deal with trucks and tractors, mortgages and appliances. But all things, whether they are iThings or urThings, are Elokim’s things. Hopefully, we’ll remember that on our own. If not our case will come before the elokim and we’ll be reminded.

agutn Shabbos!

Shabbat Shalom!

© Copyright 2011 Breslov Research Institute

Author: Ozer Bergman

Ozer Bergman is an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation.

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