This Shabbat we will read the Torah Portion “Mishpatim” in the book of Exodus.
In this portion G‑d promises to bring the people of Israel to the Holy Land, and warns them against assuming the pagan ways of its current inhabitants.
Series of laws are given to the people of Israel.
These include the laws the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault and theft; civil laws pertaining to redress of damages, the granting of loans and the rules governing the conduct of justice by courts of law.
Also included is the observance of the seasonal festivals, and the agricultural gifts that are to be brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, laws warning against mistreatment of foreigners, the prohibition against cooking meat with milk.
The people of Israel proclaim:
“We will do and we will hear all that G‑d commands us.”
By preceding to the doing to hearing they showed their readiness to act according the laws even before fully understanding those.
One of the laws deals with providing help to an enemy:
“If you see the donkey of your enemy collapsing under its burden, and are inclined to desist from helping him, you shall surely help along with him” (Exodus 23:5)
Why would a person provide help to his proclaimed enemy?
Let’s look at this verse penetrating a deeper layer.
The Hebrew for donkey, “KHAMOR“, also means
material – “KHOMER”.
Thus, this verse also instructs us as to the proper attitude toward the body and physicality:
“When you will see the khamor of your enemy” – initially you will see your material self as your enemy (the enemy of your NESHAMA – soul), as something that obstructs and hinders your spiritual growth.
“Collapsing under its burden” – in such a state of animosity between body and soul, that the body in its essence resists the spirituality making it an unbearable burden for itself…
One’s first inclination may be “to desist from helping him” – to shun the body, suppress its instincts, and deny it its wants.
Says the Torah: “You shall surely help along with him“
Aid the material self KHOMER
with its “burden” – NESHAMA (soul)
(Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov)
The relationship between body and soul is depicted in the
Here are a few interesting facts about “MAGEN DAVID”.
* Note that in Hebrew the word נשמה – NESHAMA – soul
and the word נשם – NASHAM – breathe have the same root.
נר נשמה – NER NESHAMAH – memorial candle
נשם לרווחה – NASHAM LI’RVAKHAH – breathed a sigh of relief
כל עוד נשמה באפו – KOL OD NESHAMAH BE’APO – while he is alive
הנשמה מלאכותית – HAN’SHAMAH M’LAKHUTIT – artificial respiration
We have a tradition that on Shabbat Jewish people receive what’s called נשמה יתרה – NESHANAH YETERAH – an additional special ‘Shabbat Soul’.
Yoel & Orly
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