Forethoughts and Afterthoughts.
Commentary on the weekly Torah reading.
In memory of Father, Yosef Ben Zelig.
March 25th 1911 - May 2nd 2008
In memory of Mother, Nechama Bas Tzvi Hirsh.
June 9th 1925 - April 16th 2003
In memory of Uncle, Moshe Binyamin Ben Tzvi Hirsh.
December 12 1929 - February 2nd 2010
In Loving Memory of Moreinu Horav Shmuel Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh HaYeshiva Ner Yisroel
Chukas (Numbers 19-22)
Mishpatim (Exodus 21-24)
21:1 And these are the (civil) laws that you shall put before them.
Rabbi Bick of blessed memory poses the following questions:
What is the Torah trying to tell us by saying that we should to put these laws “before them?”
Also, Rashi writes here that this verse teaches us to set up the Supreme Court adjacent to the temple altar. What is the Torah trying to tell us with this guideline?
In response, he notes that we have these two categories of Torah commandments: Those with a focus on the relationship between man and G-D and those that are for man and his fellow.
In fact, the first five of the Ten Commandments are for the man-to-G-D relationship. They were inscribed on their own tablet. The commandments on the second tablet and are for man-to-man.
The civil laws in this Torah reading represent the commandments between man to man. Those that pertain to the temple are man to G-D.
The guideline to place the Supreme Court adjacent to the temple altar teaches us that both categories of commandments have equal significance.
While both have equal significance, we note that civil behavior and law is a foundation for all Torah observance. This is reflected by the teaching that “Civil behavior precedes Torah.”
Perhaps this is what Rashi is trying to tell us by his reading of this verse. The civil laws that represent the commandments between man and his fellow should be put before them, the commandments between man-and-G-D, represented by the temple laws that follow in next week’s Torah reading.
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