When I was 18, I joined the Israeli Army. Right after basic training before we each were sent to serve our country we were sworn in a ceremony of oath of allegiance:
“I swear and pledge in which I am right to maintain loyalty to the State of Israel, its laws and its authorized authorities, to accept unconditionally and without reservation the yoke of discipline of the Israel Defense Forces, to obey all the orders and instructions given by the authorized commanders and to devote all my strength and even sacrifice my life for the defense of the homeland and the freedom of Israel”
We each got a bible to place our hand on, as we swore before G-d and our commanders. When we said the last sentence, the girl next to me started crying. I asked her what was wrong? She said that she just realized she promised that she will give her life if needed to protect Israel. She was sworn to do something she wasn’t sure she was willing to do. She was scared. At moments like this, we should realize that when we promise: we will do! It’s with the trust in G-d and the belief that his demands will be reasonable and in our best interest. Only that way we will have the strength to complete our oath when and if time comes to fulfil it.
This week Torah portion is Mishpatim – Laws, It is a perfect segway from last week Torah portion when we were inspired by the revelation on Mt. Sinai hearing the ten commandments and now, we are introduced to more practical laws we can apply to our daily life and reality.
It is towards the end of this Parasha in chapter 24 verse 3 when we read: “Moses came and told the people all of G-d’s words and all the laws. All the people responded with one voice and said, “We will do every word that G-d has spoken.”
Today marks 4 months since we were brutely attacked on October 7th in Israel and are mourning the continuous death toll of our soldiers and the suffering of our 137 hostages still being held in Gaza. The day we were attacked we responded: Nahase – we will do!
We acted immediately together, as one, to do all it takes to protect ourselves even if it meant for our soldiers to risk their lives for it.
The question is: how was it possible for us to be united, so long ago, with one voice, not long after we were slaves, to promise and commit to G-d, we will do all he says.
How is it possible we were so strong and united in our faith?
Last week I highlighted the word Echad mentioned in the prayer of the Shema. Shema Israel Adonai Eloeinu adoni echad – One. The word Echad can also create the word Yechud – Union – coming together.
The calling of Shema is a Mitzvah. Mitzvah can make the word tzavta – together – just like when two people come together in marriage.
So, in essence every time we call the Shema it’s as if we say an oath and renew our vows with G-d.
This week I would like to shine light on an important word that appears in Mispatim: The word Brit! This word is essential to understand how we were and still are united with G-d. the book of the covenant, Sefer ha-Brit starts from the book of Bereshit and ends in Mishpatim. In Bereshit (Exodus) we read about creation – Beriha and end here with the word Brit.
The next verses give an insight to what happened for our unity to be possible so early through the process of making an oath.
Verses 4-8 we read: And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and he arose in the morning and built an alter (Mizbeach) at the foot of the mountain and twelve monuments for the twelve tribes of Israel.
And he sent the youth of the children of Israel, and they offered up burnet offerings (Korbanot), and they slaughtered peace offering to the Lord, bulls.
And Moses took half of the blood (Dam) and put it into the basins, and half of the blood he cast onto the altar.
And he took the book of the Covenant (Brit) and read it within the hearing of the people, and they said” All that the Lord spoke we will do and we will hear.”
And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and he said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has formed with you concerning these words.”
Covenant is Hebrew is Brit. What is Brit? Brit is Kesher! Connection!
G-d is the broom, Israel is the bride. Moshes is the match maker and the ring is the torah. The two sides make a brit with the will and understanding that we will even give our Nefesh for it – it is considered – mesirut nefesh: It reflect how much we care and what we are willing to do and sacrifice to keep it alive.
we make sacrifices for love. That is what the word Korban means, to give an offering – le- it- karev – in order to get closer.
In Mishpatim we read about the Brit of Nahase venishma. It was a Brit Dam: an agreement sealed in blood. Just like in Brit Milah (Bris)
Moses took half of the blood from the sacrifice and throw it on the Israelites and half on the alter – Mizbeah so the Brit Dam it equal between the two sides – 50%/50%.
It is not an easy task to say: “I will do” even before one understand. It’s as if we say: “I have faith in G-d even if I am scared from the unknown to lead me in the right path”.
The Israelites could have responded differently and say: “we will try to understand and if we are persuaded, we will then and only then do what we are told”
Instead, they chose to believe that G-d who took them out of Egypt, made miracles and used all his powers to help them, cares for them and will always do the best by them.
Protecting what we care about most can be very costly at times, we need to give our 50% for G-d to match his 50%. That’s is how covenant works. It’s a two-sided agreement. Many years after revelation, we now understand the value of the land of Israel and the value keeps increasing. Now it’s time for the rest of the world to see and understand the value of Israel. I pray they will do what is needed. And let us say Amen!
Beth Moshe Congregation is filled with generations of South Florida families with roots and traditional values.