Category Archives: Parshas Mishpatim

Parshas Mishpatim: One Is Worth One Billion!

Parshas Mishpatim

One Is Worth One Billion!

“He [Moshe] then took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the ears of the people. They said, “All that Hashem has spoken, we will do and we will listen.” (Shmos 24:7)

Many years ago, the evil Roman Empire made a decree that the Jews in the Land of Israel could not study Torah, under the penalty of death. Then, Papos ben Yehudah discovered Rabbi Akiva teaching Torah in public. When he asked Rabbi Akiva why he was not scared, Rabbi Akiva answered with a parable:

There was a fox walking on the bank of a river. It saw a fish in the water, darting from place to place. The fox asked the fish what it was doing. The fish replied that it was going from side to side to avoid capture by the fishermen’s nets. “The fox said, ‘Would you like to come up on the dry land? You and I will live together….’” The fish responded, ‘“Are you the one that they call the clever animal? You are not clever, but a fool! If we are afraid here, where we live, how much more so, would we be in a place where we die!”’

Similarly, Rabbi Akiva told Papos that a Jew without Torah is like a fish out of water. Without Torah, a Jew would die a spiritual death. (Talmud Brachos 61B)

For every word of Torah that we learn, we receive unimaginable reward! The Talmud (Shabbos 127A) states that there are specific mitzvos for which one is rewarded in this world, yet the main reward is reserved for the World to Come. The greatest of those mitzvos is learning Torah.


Rabbi Simcha Zissel zt”l of Kelm said that it would have been worthwhile for Hashem to have created the entire universe for 6,000 years so that one Jew would say Baruch Hu u’varuch Shemo, just once, after hearing Hashem’s name recited. Rabbi Simcha Zissel states that the reward for one “Baruch Hu u’varuch Shemo” is guaranteed eternal pleasure in the World to Come. He continued, that one Amen is 1,000 times greater than the reward for one Baruch Hu u’varuch Shemo. One Amen Yehei Shemei Rabba… is 1,000 times greater than one Amen. And, one word of Torah study is 1,000 times greater than one “Amen Yehei Shemei Rabba…”!


The Talmud (Shabbos 88a) quotes Rabbi Simai who said that when Bnei Yisroel said “נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע”, “we will do and we will listen”, giving precedence to the declaration “We will do” over the declaration “We will hear,” 600,000 ministering angels came and tied two crowns to each member of the Jewish people. One crown was corresponding to “We will do” and one corresponding to “We will hear.” Rashi says that those crowns were fashioned from the radiance of the Divine Presence.

The Beis Halevi asks a very insightful question. The Talmud says that Bnei Yisroel received the heavenly crowns when they preceded saying “We will do” before saying “We will hear”. Why doesn’t it say that they received the crowns when they said “We will do”? After all, that response showed Bnei Yisroel’s readiness to do whatever Hashem would tell them.  Apparently, the order of their response was very significant. They only merited the crowns because they first said “We will do” and afterwards said “We will hear”.

The Zohar says that “We will do” referred to the acceptance to do mitzvos. “We will hear” referred to the acceptance to learn Torah.

The Beis Halevi explains that there are two aspects of Torah learning. One is the practical consideration of learning, to know what to do and how to properly fulfill the mitzvos. After all, if you don’t learn the laws relevant to the mitzvos, you won’t know what to do and how to properly do it. The second is the mitzvah to learn Torah, solely for the sake of learning Hashem’s Torah.

Ben Dama told his uncle, Rabbi Yishmael, that he had learned the entire Torah. He wanted to know if now, he would be permitted to study Greek wisdom. Rabbi Yishmael answered him by quoting a pasuk, ‘“This Torah scroll shall not depart from your mouth, and you shall contemplate in it day and night.’ Go and search for an hour that is neither part of the day nor part of the night, and then learn Greek wisdom.” In other words, Rabbi Yishmael told ben Dama that he was forbidden to learn Greek wisdom. Rabbi Yishmael explained that there are two aspects of the Torah. One is to learn what mitzvos to do and how to do them. Beyond that, there is a mitzvah for men to learn Torah just for the sake of learning Hashem’s Torah. It is true that ben Dama had already learned whatever he needed to properly fulfill the mitzvos. However, there is a separate obligation to learn Torah for its own sake and that learning has no end.

Had Bnei Yisroel said “וְנַעֲשֶׂ֥הְ נִשְׁמָֽע”, “we will listen and we will do” it would have seemed that they were only accepting the obligation to learn Torah in order to know how to properly fulfill the mitzvos. That would have been only one acceptance of the Torah. By saying it in the reverse order, they were demonstrating that they were willing to accept both aspects of Torah; Learning Torah to fulfill the mitzvos as well as learning Torah for its own sake. Therefore, Bnei Yisroel were crowned with two heavenly crowns for both of their acceptances.

We have a mitzvah to learn Torah to know how to fulfill the mitzvos.

Above and beyond that, is the mitzvah to learn Torah for its own sake.

That obligation is infinite! So is its reward!


Parshas Mishpatim: The Secret to Unimaginable Wealth!

Parshas Mishpatim

The Secret to Unimaginable Wealth!


“They beheld G-d, and they ate and drank.” (Shmos 24:10)

Lebron James, the basketball player, earns $44.4 million dollars for the season. He earns $542,378 per game and $11,300 per minute of each game!  If he would take a short, 5-minute nap, while sitting on the bench, he would earn $56,500!

Shimon is a 7th grader who learns Torah. He can say 40 words of Torah per minute. Every single word of Torah is so precious and so invaluable. Using a very low number, we can guesstimate that his Heavenly reward for each word is $1 million. Based on that, every minute he is earning $40 million. If Shimon takes 10 minutes to eat breakfast, he “potentially” could earn $166,666. If he plays basketball at recess for 20 minutes, he can “potentially” earn $3,333,320. While sleeping at night for 7 hours, he could “potentially” earn $69,999,720 for that one night. That is about 70 million dollars!

Why do I say, “potentially”? If Shimon’s intentions are to be able to serve Hashem better, then Hashem considers his eating, his recess break, and even his sleeping to be an actual mitzvah for which he gets rewarded! We should “know” Hashem and “serve” Hashem in all that we do. Even our mundane actions should be done for the sake of Hashem. It says in Mishlei (3:6), “בְּכׇל־דְּרָכֶ֥יךָ דָעֵ֑הוּ וְ֝ה֗וּא יְיַשֵּׁ֥ר אֹֽרְחֹתֶֽיךָ׃” “In all your ways acknowledge Him….” The Metzudas Dovid says, “Know Hashem in all that you do…Think about how your deeds can fulfill the will of Hashem. Then Hashem will guide you on the straight path and you will be successful.”

Two of Aharon HaKohain’s sons were Nadav and Avihu. They were great men; some say that they were even greater than Moshe and Aharon. Nadav and Avihu had been destined to take over the leadership of the Jewish People. At our greatest moment in history, the giving of the Torah, Nadav and Avihu had a vision. They saw the Holy Presence of Hashem. The Torah (Shmos 24:10) says that “they saw [a vision of] the G-d of Israel, and under His feet [there was something] like a brickwork of sapphire, and it was like the essence of heaven in purity.” The next pasuk says, “They beheld G-d, and they ate and drank”. Rashi explains that they had sinned and deserved to be punished. They had gazed at Hashem, feeling some minute degree of arrogance, while actually eating and drinking. Because of that, they were severely punished at a later time. Apparently, their eating and drinking was inappropriate while seeing or sensing a very holy vision. On some level, it was considered arrogance.

The Targum Onkelos has a totally different understanding. He says that Nadav and Avihu were praised for their actions. They did not actually eat or drink. Rather, they felt such elated joy that Hashem had accepted their sacrifice. Their joy was comparable to the joy one feels when eating a delicious meal and then drinking.

How can we compare holiness to physicality? How can we compare their spiritual joy of beholding the Holiness of Hashem to the physical joy of eating and drinking?

The Vilna Gaon zt”l answers this question based on a pasuk in Mishlei (Proverbs 3:6). The pasuk says, “In all of your ways know Him.” The Vilna Gaon explains that one should serve Hashem with both his evil and good inclinations. Even physical acts can be elevated into spiritual acts of service to Hashem, if done with the proper intentions.

Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Sher zt”l was the rosh yeshiva of the Slabodka Yeshiva in Lithuania and Bnei Brak. He was the son-in-law of Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, the Alter of Slabodka. Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Sher zt”l says that all of the actions of our forefathers, even their physical acts of eating and drinking were on a very holy level. Their eating and drinking were on the level of the service that the Kohain Gadol did in the Beis HaMikdash. Eating and drinking involves many body parts. When done for the sake of Hashem, there is more physical involvement which contributes to more joy and closeness to Hashem. According to Targum Onkelos, this elevated level of joy was what Nadav and Avihu felt.

The Torah says that (Bereishis 27:20) our forefather Yaakov brought our forefather Yitzchak savory food to receive his blessing. The Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis 65:19) says that Yitzchak was suspicious as to how Yaakov could bring the food so quickly. Yaakov replied, “If Hashem summoned a ram to take your place to be sacrificed, then surely Hashem will provide for the savory foods for you to be brought quickly.” When one eats or drinks for the sake of Hashem, one can reach a higher level of holiness than when one offers an actual sacrifice.

When we do a mundane action for the sake of Hashem, we elevate that action to holiness!

Think about which actions YOU can elevate to holiness.


Based on a dvar Torah By Rabbi Alter Henach Leibowitz zt”l