Torah Tidbits


Slavery – a thing of the past?
Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
January 25, 2014 – 24 Shevat 5774

Slavery – a thing of the past?

There is no dearth of inspiring teachings in our weekly Torah portion of Mishpatim.

For example: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 22:20).”  Or, “I am sending an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready (Exodus 23:20).”

Yet, I have heard it said that some people don’t connect to our weekly Torah portion because it begins with laws regarding slavery.

In the context of the Exodus story when slavery was the norm, the Torah sought to delimit the duration of slavery and to afford physical and spiritual protections to slaves. I find this truly inspiring!  No longer would slaves be completely at the mercy of their masters; no longer would they be condemned to the status of a slave for life.

Torah envisions these new and innovative protective regulations as a first step toward the fulfillment of the ultimate redemptive goal of forever abolishing slavery from our midst.

Today, the classic institution of slavery continues to exist in our world, and modern slavery has also morphed into new forms of slavery which are often referred to as “human trafficking.”

The message of Torah which outlined a plan to ameliorate the lives of slaves in ancient times, encouraging our ancestors to help slaves re-enter and re-engage in free society, reminds us today that our work in regard to slavery is not yet done.

As long as slavery and human trafficking continue to exist, it is up to us to take action to help those individuals who are caught up in these situations and to work toward the eventual elimination of these negative forces in our world.

For a snapshot of websites and resources devoted to education and action in regard to human trafficking, please visit this website.

This Shabbat we will be reciting the prayer for the new Jewish month of Adar I.  Rosh Chodesh Adar I will be on Thursday night, Friday and Shabbat on this coming week.  May it be a month of peace and of blessing for all.

And, may our Shabbat rest imbue us with renewed vision and determination to make our world a better place for all.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror