Parasha Inspiration – Mishpatim

We will do and we will hear. The children of Israel state this phrase to Hashem at Sinai. Much has been written about it, with good reason. One would think that the phrase should be reversed, we will hear and we will do. But the children of Israel did not respond this way, they responded we will do and we will hear.

            The implication is that the children of Israel swear to Hashem that they will do the commandments, whether or not they understood the commandments. In other words, we will do the commandments, and then, perhaps, we will understand them. This whole concept can be very confusing to people. If we don’t understand it, why should we do it? The answer, believe it or not, is faith and grace.

            We will do and we will hear is the ultimate statement of the children of Israel regarding faith in Hashem. If Hashem commands us to do something, we will do it. It is not necessary that we understand why. This is faith, belief in things unseen. We have faith in Hashem, therefore, we will do his commandments.

            Why did Hashem give us Torah? Why did Hashem give us his instructions? Because of his grace. Because of his mercy. Because of his compassion. Because of his love. Without Hashem’s grace, there is no Torah. Torah is Hashem’s merciful gift to Israel, and through Israel, to mankind. Torah is the mechanism that man can show that he chooses Hashem of his own free will.

            Yeshua quoted the Torah, love Hashem and love your neighbor as yourself, as the 2 greatest commandments. How do we love Hashem? Torah. How do we love our neighbor? Torah. Told is Hashem’s desired behavior for us, outlined in perfect fashion. It is the definition of grace. There is no greater act of grace in all of Scripture than Hashem giving Torah to the children of Israel. It is an act of humility that upon receiving Torah from Hashem at Sinai, the children of Israel exclaimed, we will do and we will hear. It proclaims an understanding that we will come to understand through the doing, even though initially we do not understand why. It is Hashem’s grace that allows us to come to understanding through the doing of Torah.

            Coming to this understanding through the doing of Torah is very difficult if not impossible. You are doing things by yourself. When you are in with a group, the congregation, the community, the children of Israel, coming to understanding by doing becomes a matter of practicality. We do, and we hear. It is not I do, and I hear. As we do things, together, our understanding grows. Let us do and let us hear.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.