We ended off last week's parsha discussing the unbelievable experience of the Jewish people at Har Sinai, receiving the Torah. Miracles were going on all over and the whole world heard about it. It was an unforgettable experience. However, when we open up this week's parsha we get a very different picture. There are tons and tons of laws and technical details given for the mitzvos. Even the name of the parsha, Mishpatim, means statutes and rules. Why make this jump from the big picture of Judaism and receiving the Torah, becoming the Chosen People, and then suddenly transition into small little details and laws of halachas and mitzvos.
Perhaps the greater idea here is that Judaism is not just a religion with laws and rules. Of course, we do have that as well, but there is something much more important here. It's about a relationship with G-d. Each of us has a personal relationship with Hashem. When it comes to relationships, it's all about the details. If your friend asks you for pizza with toppings, and you bring him back a falafel, while it may be nice overall, you certainly didn't listen to the details. Details are important specifically in relationships because while a detail that our friend, spouse, or child might find important and we don't, we have to be ready and able to make it important. Something that's important to someone we care about has to become important to us as well. The same is true in our relationship with Hashem, the details of how we do the mitzvos really makes a huge difference, although it might not seem as important to us in our own eyes.
All types of relatonships are different. There are no two relationships that are the same. everyone reacts differently to different things, and we have to do our best to be able to relate to each person as individuals. If we can do that, we can respect them for who they are, and not for who we may think they are. You can't group a friendship or marriage into the same category because they are so different, even down to our interactions with others, we have to treat everyone differently as to how they feel they need to be related to.
Being in this Yeshiva has taught me how to treat people differently. When I first came to this school I had an idea in my head of what everyone will be like. I thought people aren't going to be perfect here, and I had a basic idea for how I would treat everyone. The more that I spent time with each individual, I began to respect each one as their own unique person, who brings something different to the table. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and it's aways important to focus on other people's strengths and positive qualities. We can't use people's bad experiences of the pasts against them, because we all grow and strive to be the greatest individuals we can. I have learned many things while in Yeshiva, and I have really enjoyed my time here, I have gained a lot from this Yeshiva and had a great experience.
~ Judah is a first-year student in Yesiva, originally from Toms River, NJ