23 Feb Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Mishpatim – Shabbat Sh’kalim 5777
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Mishpatim and also mark Shabbat Sh’kalim, the first of four special Shabbatot in advance of Passover. Parashat Mishpatim, which means “laws”, is perhaps the most appropriately named Torah portion as it is almost entirely about rules and laws that God instructs to Moshe and the Israelite people at Mount Sinai. At the end of this week’s parasha, once all the rules and laws are completed, we learn that Moshe was up on Mount Sinai for forty days and forty nights. This inclusion of a specific number of days only makes stronger the connection between Mishpatim and Shababt Sh’kalim because Passover is only slightly more than forty days away. Forty days and nights, the number of days that the flood lasted, is a fascinating amount of time. It’s a short enough period of time that whatever sits at the end of the time period feels very close, but it is not so close that you’re anxious yet. But it is a good starting point for thinking about Passover, all the preparation it takes and the connection that preparation time has with Moshe as he spent the same amount of time on Mount Sinai, preparing to teach the Israelite people.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik