Mishpatim: Societal Norms

This week, I took my eight year old son to Yerushaliyim for our yearly matzah baking.  In general, I don’t like these “father and son” trips, since, as a father, I don’t like spending time with my children.  And if I’m going on a trip, heck if I’m going to volunteer to take some of my private time and share it.  But, what can I do?  He deserves it.  He’s been working hard in his learning, he’s been helping around the house a lot, his behavior has been very good.  He deserves it.  So, we took a day trip, had some lunch, bought a few things, baked matzos, and caught the last bus home.


My friend on the other hand . . . we’ll see how he feels.  Last year, I wrote on his matzah box “Find a cockroach, win a prize!” and placed a plastic cockroach on the top of the matzos (and left a small prize on the bottom).  When he got home, he opened up the box to let the matzos cool off properly, and jumped quite high, when he saw a cockroach sitting there.

Michael Winner

This year, I wrote on his box “100% cockroach free!  Trust me.” and I placed a small plastic mouse on the bottom.  Can’t wait to receive the phone call by the end of Pesach.


Okay, on to Torah!


“Do not be a follower of the majority for evil; and do not respond to a grievance by yielding to the majority to pervert the law” (Shemos 23:1)


I heard recently a small dvar Torah brought up on this pasuk, in regards to the current societal situation we’re living in.  I’m hearing more and more pieces of strange, new, and sick levels of what’s considered acceptable and what’s not considered acceptable in the US.  One example I heard is the NFL is threatening Texas, never to allow a Super Bowl to be played there.  Why?  It seems Texas wants to code in law that public restrooms/dressing rooms are to be used according to a person’s gender that they were born with.  So, if a man feels like a woman and dresses up as one, according to the NFL, he should be given free access to the women’s restrooms and dressing rooms.  I’m being told that this is considered to be normal in many social circles in the US.  G-d help you all.


With this pasuk, the Torah tells us that we are not a society that bends according to the direction of social winds.  We have laws and beliefs that are immovable.  What is wrong, remains wrong.  What is right, remains right.  We have court systems to determine all the grey areas in practical application.  However, when the Torah lays down a system of clear-cut beliefs, we don’t sway from them, even if a majority of people believe in it. And it is because we have staunchly stood by these beliefs that we have continued to remain a nation for so many thousands of years.  May we continue to remain strong in those (now) unpopular beliefs and norms.


Have a great Shabbos!