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MishpatimRead / Listen to Portion
Let’s think about the Grace vs. Law idea. What do we mean when we say that we are not under the law? Does that mean we do not have to keep God’s rules? For example, does it mean that we can commit adultery and theft? Of course not. No one would say that. So what does it mean?
The twin concepts of righteousness and justice stand like pillars at the center of Torah, Messiah, and the kingdom of heaven. God loves righteousness and justice. He desires them more than sacrifice. They support His throne which is founded upon them.
The Bible's laws about slaves are meant for the protection and well-being of the people enslaved. The Israelites had just left slavery. They had experienced it in its ugliest form. It is only natural that God would address that institution and lay out rules to prevent the perpetuation of the maltreatment of slaves.
The Torah says that murderers, kidnappers, and insolent children are to be put to death. "He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 21:15). Of course, we would never advocate striking one's father or mother, but neither would we feel comfortable putting someone to death for doing so.
The Torah contains both law and revelation. It provides a rule of conduct, but at the same time, it expresses God in human terms. If a person realizes that Torah is God’s own self-disclosure to the world, he will appreciate the enormous gravity of declaring that same Torah null or void.