Parshas Mishpatim

Chof Vov Shevat 5766


Volume 2
Issue 17

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"What kind of mitzvos will we be reading about in this week's parshah?" Mrs. Kirsh asked her class.
"Mishpatim," came the reply in chorus.
"That wasn't too hard to figure out, was it?" said Mrs. Kirsh with a smile. "It's right there in the name of the parshah. Now, let's remind ourselves of the difference between the three types of mitzvos. You mentioned mishpatim, so we'll start with them. What type of mitzvos are mishpatim?"
Rachel raised her hand. "Mishpatim are mitzvos which we can understand, like not stealing and not hurting others. Most people agree that everyone should obey them so we can live peacefully and happily with each other."
"The next type is eidus," said Batsheva. "These are mitzvos which we would probably not have thought of on our own. Hashem tells us to keep them as reminders of events that happened to the Jewish people, like Pesach or Sukkos."
Mrs. Kirsh nodded. "And the third type?" she asked.
"They are the chukim," Faige answered. "We were not taught the reasons for these mitzvos. We keep them only because Hashem commanded us to do so."
"When you say 'We were not taught the reasons for chukim,' does that mean that there are no reasons?" Mrs. Kirsch asked.
"Perhaps," suggested Shaindy. "We could say they are higher than reasons. That would make it clearer."
"Very good, Shaindy," replied Mrs. Kirsh. "Chukim show a very deep connection between a Jew and Hashem. That connection is far above our understanding.
"Now I would like to ask you a 'thinking question.' Parshas Mishpatim comes right after Mattan Torah. At Mattan Torah, everything was overwhelming and supernatural. The mountain was on fire, the people heard lightning and saw thunder. The entire world stood still and the voice of Hashem filled the air. These wonders are above our understanding; they are very different from our day-to-day lives.
"Now, which of the three types of mitzvos would you expect to follow Mattan Torah?"
"Chukim," Esther called out. "They would fit into the way the Jewish people felt at Mattan Torah: above reason, far from understanding, doing what Hashem wants just because He is so great."
"Yet, girls," continued Mrs. Kirsh. "We see that the mitzvos that follow Mattan Torah are mishpatim, mitzvos which we can understand. This shows us that we must take the overwhelming holiness of Mattan Torah and bring it down into our understanding. Hashem doesn't want the Torah to stay above reason. He wants us to make the Torah part of ourselves."

‘Please Tell Me What the Rebbe Said’
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III)


 My outside is 80 and I have a judge in me.
    ___  ___  ___  ___  ___  ___
Please send your answers to

Last weeks’ brain buster: Spice of life

Answer: חי‘ה מושקא

Congratulations to Mushky Freedman, age 11 from Solon, Ohio for solving the brain buster.

Hi there, boys and girls!
      I just arrived back in my office here in Iowa between the cows and cornfields.  I was on vacation at the Kinus Hashluchos held in honor of Chof Beis Shevat, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s yartzeit (Of course you remember the flight that I missed and the googly-eyed pilot who flew the Shluchos for free because they reach a GOOGOL Jews.) Sorry about the mess in here. While I was gone, mail from kids and doctors from all over the world piled up on my desk. (There were so many letters that they spilled over onto the floor and even began falling out of the windows!) As you know, I’m an eye doctor and I specialize in seeing things.  At the Kinus there were so many special things happening all at once that I didn’t know where to look first. I saw shluchos and shluchos-in-training (tzirei hashluchos) from all over. I spotted Chani from Canada having extra Ahavas Yisroel and Mushky from France davening with extra kavanah.  All of those extras surely made the Rebbe and Rebbetzin very proud. 
     Brrrr . . . I’m going to turn up the heat in here. Here in Iowa the sun is shining but it was so cold in New York that I’m still trying to warm up. That reminds me of my Uncle Berel. He’s always talking about how cold he was in Russia. He told me how he sat in his house once Farbrenging with his friend Yankel. They were both shaking and shivering from the cold.  Uncle Berel crawled into bed and pulled the blanket over his head to warm up. Suddenly Yankel had an idea and quickly got to work.  Before long a cozy fire was crackling in the fireplace and the whole house was warm and toasty. Uncle Berel came out from under his blanket with very red cheeks to rejoin the Farbrengen. 
     As kid-Shluchim, we’re not like Uncle Berel hiding under the blanket.  We’re out there warming up the world with Torah and Mitzvos. Next time you go outside and bundle up in your scarf and gloves, put on your COL (Chassidic Outlook Lens) glasses and look around you.  Think about ways that you can make your friends warm, too. Teach your friends about Shabbos, Tzitzis and Kashrus.  Remind them to say brachos, give tzedakah and kiss the mezuzah. Then, write to me describing how you helped warm up a friend.  I’ll be here in my office with the green roof and wooden door waiting for your letter. 

See Ya’,
Dr. Getzel


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ראש חודש אדר

אדר is a happy month.  Actually, we should be happy all year long.  Happiness helps us get done what needs to be done.  When we are happy, we have more energy and want to do good things.  This is important all of the time.  But in אדר we are extra happy.  Our חכמים teach us that משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה - as soon as אדר begins, joy is increased.

Why is אדר such a happy time?  המן wanted to kill the אידן , and looked for a good time to do this.  He finally decided on אדר , because he thought that ה‘ might not protect the אידן as much during אדר as during other months.  המן did not realize that the exact opposite was true! ה‘ protects the אידן even more during אדר , and ה‘ did not let המן carry out his mean plan.

המן wanted אדר to be a sad time; he wanted bad things to happen to the אידן during אדר . Instead, ה‘ protected and saved the אידן

During אדר , ה‘ helps us even when things do not seem to be going so well. Just like by פורים when ה hid Himself; we could not see that ה‘ was going to save us, but He did.  People might think that they can hurt us, but ה‘ will make sure to protect us.  We don’t have to worry.  This is a great reason for us to stay extra happy during אדר , no matter what seems to be going on.

And, of course, this will help us be happy the rest of the year, too. 

שבת מברכים אדר

  • שבת morning I made sure to say תהילים .  (Remember to say your quota for the World-Wide Tehillim club)  
  • I went to Shul and made the special ברכה for the new month of אדר . (The ברכה can be found in the סידור after שחרית for שבת .)
  • I was extra happy today - משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה

ראש חודש אדר

Tuesday ל' שבט   & Wednesday א' אדר

  • I remembered to say יעלה ויבא in שמונה עשרה and in bentching.
  • I remembered to say הלל after שמונה עשרה .
  • I remembered to daven  מוסף .
  • I remembered to say ברכי נפשי after the שיר של יום .
  • (For Girls) I didn’t sew or do any laundry

On the last שבת of the month of שבט , or on ראש חודש אדר if it falls on שבת , we read an extra קריאת התורה called פרשת שקלים .  This שבת is called שבת שקלים .
פרשת שקלים speaks about the מצוה for every איד to give מחצית השקל , a half-shekel – a type of coin – every year to the בית המקדש .  This money was used to buy the קרבנות for the בית המקדש .
The מחצית השקל had to be given in by א‘ ניסן , and they would begin collecting it on ט“ו אדר .  The people were reminded about the מחצית השקל beginning on ראש חודש אדר .  For that reason, the קריאת התורה speaking about the מחצית השקל was read on the שבת before ראש חודש אדר as a reminder to prepare it.
Today, we don’t give a מחצית השקל because there is no בית המקדש   to bring קרבנות in.  Until משיח comes, we daven instead of bringing קרבנות . We still read this portion in the תורה , and hope that it will be counted as if we actually fulfilled the מצוה .

It was Communist Russia. The sudden banging on the door made everyone very scared. The knocking was getting louder. The two boys looked at each other, terror in their eyes. They were about to sneak out the back door when the older of the two suggested that the younger one open the door.
The banging continued even more vigorously. "Who's there?" the boy called out, but there was no answer. The boy pulled the door open. Standing there was a high-ranking officer of the KGB. "Is this where the שוחט lives?" the officer demanded.

"שוחט ?" he replied. "There's no one here by the name of Shochet."

The officer gave him a look and said, "Then perhaps there's someone here who cuts children?"

"No," he said in the most confident way possible.

For a moment the stranger said nothing. Then he whispered in the boy's ear: "Don't deny it. I know that the man who cuts children lives here!" The boy was shocked, for the man had said these words in אידיש !"

"I am a איד . Seven days ago my wife gave birth to a baby boy, and I want very much for him to be entered into the ברית of אברהם אבינו . My wife is very much against the idea. Tomorrow at exactly nine in the morning she will be leaving the house. I am begging you to come to my house tomorrow and bring the מוהל . The baby will be in one of the front rooms."

The officer told the astonished youngster his address and hurried away. "Remember," he begged, "Tomorrow is the eighth day of my son's life. I beg you to do me this favor."

ר‘ אייזיק was the only שוחט and מוהל in the entire city, and יעקב , a boy with no relatives in the world, lived with the שוחט and accompanied him on his holy and very dangerous work.

The officer left. Was it a trap? יעקב was convinced that it was a clever trap cooked up to catch ר‘ אייזיק red-handed. When ר‘ אייזיק came home, יעקב filled him in on everything. The חסיד thought for several minutes, the deep wrinkles that lined his forehead showed how hard it was for him to make this decision. Then his face cleared.  He had decided what to do:

"Tomorrow morning we will go to the officer's house to bring his son into the ברית of אברהם אבינו ."

The following day, ר‘ אייזיק and יעקב woke up at dawn and davened. Then they set out in the direction of the river. On the way, the חסיד explained that he was almost certain that this was, indeed, a trap. He therefore wished to toivel himself in a מקוה before they continued. "If this is to be our last day on earth, at least we will die טהור ," he declared.

The officer's house was located on one of the finest streets in the city, which only made them more sure that this was a trap. The highest ranking members of the KGB and their families lived in this neighborhood. But the two חסידים kept to their decision. ר‘ אייזיק and יעקב hid themselves in a hiding place across from the officer's house. Seconds later they saw a woman dressed in fashionable clothes come out of the building and walk down the block. Together they crossed the street.

ר‘ אייזיק knocked on the massive door. An older woman opened the door and motioned for them to come in. In the corner of the room was a beautiful crib, inside which a tiny baby was sleeping peacefully. They ran over and picked up the child, when a small white envelope fell out.

Inside the envelope was a letter from the baby's father, apologizing for his not being able to be present at his son's ברית and asking that they give the baby a Jewish name. The rest of the letter was his thanks and appreciation for the great מצוה they were doing, without their even knowing who he was.

ר‘ אייזיק quickly performed the ברית , while יעקב was the sandek. They were about to leave when the woman who had opened the door suddenly appeared and motioned for them to stay.

יעקב was terrified. Seconds later, however, the woman brought out a brand new frying pan, and handed them a dozen eggs! A treasure! She invited them to make themselves omelettes. The young boy was so starved, that he ate the eggs in no time at all.

After they finished eating and were about to leave, the woman gave them a huge sack of bread, another gift from the Russian officer. Such a large amount of bread was something that most people could only dream of, but how could they walk down the street carrying the bag. Surely they would attract the attention of the police.

The woman suddenly understood why the two אידן hesitated to accept the priceless gift. She opened a drawer, ripped off a wad of coupons from a booklet and handed it to them. This would let them ‘buy’ bread in a bakery.

Many months later יעקב was walking down the street when the same Russian officer stopped him. "I must thank you again, from the bottom of my heart. I have one more request to make of you. Whenever you make a ברית , you should tell my story. Let everyone know that even in Soviet Russia, there are still אידן who have a warm spot in their hearts for אידישקייט ."

This request led to a מנהג in יעקב 's family. Wherever he is honored with being the sandek, in commemoration of the role he played in that ברית so very long ago, and he tells the story of the Russian officer, from beginning to end, with great enthusiasm.

(Adapted from the L’chaim Weekly)

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