This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, includes a host of laws written in the singular. “You (singular) must not oppress a stranger,” (Exodus 22, 20), for instance, and “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk,” (Exodus 23, 19), and so on.
YetMishpatimalso describes our essential nature in the plural – “A holy people you will be to Me” (Exodus 22, 30).
Judaism is a communal religion. Together bnai Yisrael(the children of Israel) crossed the Sea. Together we stood at Sinai.
One Yiddish word for the Jewish community is oilam. It comes from the familiar Hebrew word olam, which means the world. Indeed, the community isthe world. Yes, our personal lives and interior worlds are extremely significant. And, yes, we are not deeply concerned with the broader world. But we also acknowledge that we conduct our lives within the context of the community. This is healthy for us. Feeling part of a community, research shows, yields great benefits, mentally and physically.
How fortunate we are that so many of you celebrate your simchaswithin our EHNTJC community! It seems we celebrate another happy milestone once or twice each month. This Shabbat we celebrate two simchas – eight years of good health for Jerry Gross and 72 years – yes, 72years– of marriage for Marty and Shirley Lubowich. That’s quardruple chai– good number indeed! Thank God for blessings to share. And thank you all for placing our community at the heart of your lives.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill