ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם (20:1) The juxtaposition between the phenomenal portrayal of Revelation at Sinai and the minutiae of laws detailing slavery to damages in our Parsha seems to depict a shocking anticlimax. How can the Torah provide an account of a truly awe-inspiring event and proceed to give mind-boggling details of different everyday laws. Our problem is made even worse when we note that at the end of the Parsha the narrative continues with Moshe’s ascent of Har Sinai to receive the Torah. Why does the Torah interrupt with these laws?

Rashi is bothered by this question but seems to provide mere apologetics. He says that the letter ‘ו’ at the beginning of the Posuk implies a connection. Indeed, says Rashi, this comes to tell us that just as the Ten Commandments were given at Sinai, so too are all of these laws. What is the depth behind this; surely everything that appears in the Torah was handed down at Sinai, how does this help with the somewhat disappointing follow up to the Sinai experience?

The Nesivos Shalom is among many who discuss this issue. He explains that the Torah is providing a fundamental understanding that the laws that govern everyday issues such as damages and monetary claims should not be viewed in any way inferior or less ‘holy’ than the rest of Torah. Although other countries and regimes are able to establish their own laws and legal systems, we should make no distinction between law and religion; each is unequivocally connected to the other and is as much a part of Torah.

This provides insight into a number of quotations from the Gemora regarding those who act as Judges in the Jewish courts. In Shabbos 10a it says that whenever a Judge carries out a fair and true judgement, it is considered as if that Judge was personally involved in aiding H’ create the world. Also, in B’rochos 6a it says that when a court of three Judges sit over a case it is as if the Divine Presence is with them. What is the meaning of these somewhat esoteric statements?

With the theory posited by the Nesivos Shalom we can understand these Gemoras. The legal framework of the Torah encompasses everything mentioned therein. The outcome of a monetary claim in Beis Din is as holy as the laws pertaining to the Beis Ha’Mikdash. The outcome of such a case is based solely on Torah, not logic (even though Torah may very well be logical). Of course, then, the judgement of a monetary trial is also a religious experience of sorts, and invokes the presence of H’ as much as any other obviously spiritual exercise such as prayer or worship.

Furthermore, the Zohar writes that the Torah is the blueprint of the Universe. If so, for every case in which a Judge rules based on a rigid knowledge of Torah he has, to a certain extent, revealed new expressions of Torah in the world and has, in that way, become a partner in creation.

This is why the classic subjects learned in Yeshivos around the world are not prayer or philosophy, but rather marriage and divorce laws, marital obligations, land legislation, and damages. The laws listed in our Parsha are not meant to provide an inspiring continuation of the Revelation at Sinai. They come at this point specifically to inform us that law is as much a part of the Jewish experience as anything else, and should not in any way be divorced from the other issues and practices that we would typically have identified as religious.

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