TORAH READING FOR 27 SHEVAT 5783 Feb 17-18, 2023
Shabbat Shekalim for Hebrew Year 5783 begins at sundown on Friday, 17 February 2023 and ends at nightfall on Saturday, 18 February 2023. This corresponds to Parashat Mishpatim. Shabbat Shekalim (“Sabbath [of] shekels” שבת שקלים) read in preparation for Purim, requests each adult male Jew contribute half of a Biblical shekel for the upkeep of the Tent of Meeting.
The Torah portion Exodus 30:11-16 is read. This Shabbat takes place on the Shabbat before the 1st of the Hebrew calendar month of Adar, or on the 1st of Adar itself if it falls on Shabbat. In leap years on the Hebrew calendar, when there are two months of Adar, Shabbat Shekalim is on the Shabbat before the 1st of Adar II (or on the 1st of Adar II itself if it is Shabbat).
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/mishpatim
Mishpatim (מִשְׁפָּטִים — [These Are the] Rules) – Exodus 21:1-24:18
These are the rules that you shall set before them. – Exodus 21:1
- Interpersonal laws ranging from the treatment of slaves to the exhibition of kindness to strangers are listed. (21:1-23:9)
- Cultic laws follow, including the commandment to observe the Sabbatical Year, a repetition of the Sabbath injunction, the first mention of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals, rules of sacrificial offerings, and the prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother’s milk. (23:10-19)
- The people assent to the covenant. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel ascend the mountain and see God. Moses goes on alone and spends forty days on the mountain. (24:1-18)
HAFTARAH – Shabbat Shekalim
Ashkenazim: II Kings 12:5-16 [II Kings 12:1-17 (Historic)]
Sefardim: II Kings 11:17-12:17
From The Haftarah Commentary (Plaut-Stern; UAHC Press 1996), p.539
Connection of sidra and haftarah:
This the first of four Shabbatot on which the regular sidra for the day is supplemented by an additional reading, the theme of which gives each Shabbat a special name. [The four Shabbatot are Sh’kalim, Zachor, Parah, and Hachodesh.] Thus, … the haftarah brings us the story of the temple dues in days of King Jehoash of Judah.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/mishpatim
By: Jonathan K. Crane
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Exodus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from II King 12:5-16. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.21.1-24.18 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/II_Kings.12.5-16
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
משפטים Mishpatim – Exodus 21:1-24:18
Another View – by Carol Meyers, p. 445
THE TITLE OF PARASHAT MISPATIM (“Rules”) belies the diversity in form and content of its legal materials. For the most part, the principles of morality and ethical concern it contains reflect admirable humanitarian principles, especially when compared to similar legal materials from other ancient Near Eastern cultures. However, with respect to language, the consistent use of the masculine gender in verbal and nominal forms is problematic. Since Hebrew often uses masculine forms generically, how do we know when masculine language refers specifically to men as opposed to both men and women? The new translation in this volume [The Torah / A Women’s Commentary] is the result of scrupulous research conducted to identify masculine terms that should be understood inclusively. The English text now reads more accurately, for it reflects the fact that many legal principles apply to women as well as men.
Nonetheless, there is an important usage of the masculine singular that is not visible in this translation. The masculine singular pronoun atah is translated as “you.” The word “you” is gender inclusive in English; but in Hebrew atah sometimes refers generically to men and women, at other times, just to men.
According to the Bible, a marital couple forms a unity. The classic evidence for this is Genesis 2:24, which presents the astonishing statement–given the patrilocal nature of Israelite society, with brides moving to the grooms’ homes–that men are to leave their parents and become “one flesh” with their spouses. Despite a powerful concern with lineages and ancestry, the marital bond trumps the parental connection and expresses the merging of female and male.
Thus, many biblical passages using masculine language may refer to a conjugal pair. In such cases, masculine singular pronouns like atah or masculine singular imperatives (“you”) are not simply inclusive terms, but reflect the special bond of husband and wife. For example, the injunction to cease from work on the seventh day (23:12) uses the masculine singular form but presumably applies to a man’s wife as well. Similarly, the prohibition against cooking a kid in its mother’s milk (23:19) is in the masculine singular but also applies to a man’s spouse; after all, women were largely responsible for preparing food in ancient Israel.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Susan Marks, pp. 445-446
When you acquire a Hebrew slave (21:2–11). Slavery was an accepted part of life in biblical and post-biblical times. Numerous Roman Empire documents and inscriptions demonstrate that Jews were slaves and slave owners. Slaves could be emancipated, but mostly within ongoing structured relationships between freed persons and their master’s/patron’s household. The provisions for treatment of slaves outlined in our parashah do not appear to have been applied by Jews in the post-biblical period, even when their slaves were also Jews.
Thus, female slaves in the post-biblical period did not enjoy the protections of Exodus 21:9–11, which considers female slavery as leading to marriage and refers to a woman’s conjugal rights. Rather, rabbinic legislation, like Roman law, considered slavery a deficient status. A Jewish slave woman could not form a legal marriage with her Jewish sexual partner, whether a slave or a free man, and the offspring of such a union were slaves (Mishnah Kiddushin 3:12). The likelihood of sexual relations between female slaves and various males in the master’s household was assumed. Rabbinic texts tacitly recognized that women slaves were sexually available to their owners, as in the maxim “the more women slaves, the more unchastity” (Mishnah Avot 2:7). This warning addresses the distraction that female slaves posed to the male scholar.
Emancipation affected men and women differently. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (1st century C.E.) described a Jew who was taken as a slave to Rome and married a captive virgin at the command of his master, Emperor Vespasian (Life 414–15). At the moment that the male slave was freed, they separated, and later he married again. The first woman was apparently an appropriate wife for a slave, but not for a free man.
Rabbinic law presumed that female slaves and freed women were no longer virgins. Thus, even if a slave woman was emancipated, the legal minimum value of her marriage settlement (k’tubah) would be half that of an unmarried free woman. Although the liberation story of Exodus was always a central focus of Judaism, few commentators have struggled with the larger issues of enslavement that continued for centuries in Jewish societies.
Rabbinic Judaism did place a premium on pidyon sh’vuyim, the redemption of Jewish captives who were at risk of being sold into slavery. BT Bava Batra 8a–b asks: “Since Rabbi Samuel ben Judah has laid down that money for tzedakah is not to be levied from the fatherless ‘even for the redemption of captives,’ should we not conclude that redeeming captives is a religious duty of great importance?” The Rabbis insisted that in most cases women were to be redeemed from slavery before men, in order to preserve the women from dishonor (Mishnah Horayot 3:7; BT Horayot 13a). If a woman testified that a fellow prisoner, the wife of a priest, was not raped in captivity, her testimony was believed, even though women’s testimony was generally not admissible in rabbinic courts (Mishnah K’tubot 2:6; BT K’tubot 27b). This meant that the undefiled woman could return to her husband.
When [two or more] parties fight (21:22–25). The phrase if other damage ensues (v. 23) played a critical role in shaping rabbinic attitudes about abortion (Daniel Schiff, Abortion in Judaism, 2002). In the Torah, a miscarriage results, but not other damage (v. 22) is contrasted with the potential other damage (v. 23), an apparent reference to the death of the woman. This formulation suggests that only mortal injury to the pregnant woman is considered homicide. However, Jews who translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek (3rd century B.C.E.) understood the import of these verses differently. Instead of contrasting the death of the fetus and the death of the mother, the Septuagint (Greek translation) renders ason as “formed,” distinguishing the death of an “imperfectly formed” fetus (v. 22) from that of a “perfectly formed” fetus (v. 23). Thus, this translation considers the violently induced miscarriage of a completely formed fetus as homicide.
Rabbinic interpretation, however, follows the Hebrew text; therefore, the Rabbis drew a clear distinction between the monetary penalty for one who kills a fetus, and the capital penalty for one who causes a woman’s death. The Rabbis considered elsewhere the existence and formation of a fetus once it had reached forty days, but they stopped short of declaring it a nefesh, a legal human life. Despite the complexity and ambiguity in many of their discussions of abortion, the Rabbis specifically legislated aborting a fetus if its continued existence threatened the pregnant woman’s life (Mishnah Ohalot 7:6 and BT Sanhedrin 72b).
ROSH CHODESH ADAR
Begins at sundown on Monday, February 20 and ends at sundown Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Adar (אַדָר) is the 12th month of the Hebrew year, has 29 days. If a month has 30 days, then day 30 becomes Rosh Chodesh. The current month of Shevat has thirty days, so Adar’s Rosh Chodesh is two days. Purim falls this year on March 6-7, 2023, M-Tu, during the month of Adar.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH p.519
Our God and God of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 27 Shevat through 3 Adar, we lovingly remember:
Naomi Sanchez (First Anyos)
Cousin of Temple Kol Hamidbar Member, Mary Caron
Jerry Klein (First Yahrzeit)
Father of Bill Klein
Friend of Jorge Nevarez
Holocaust Survivor, relative of Temple Kol Hamidbar Member, Ruben Gomez
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, February 17, 2023. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Mishpatim: II Kings 12:5-16
Time: Feb 17, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Feb 17, 2023 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Kings:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From Jewish Virtual Library
Timelines from Wikipedia