So, this week, the narrative party is over and being a Parashah Mom becomes a bit more complicated as parashat hashavua shifts to more legalistic discussions.
Parashat Mishpatim offers a veritable cornucopia of laws necessary for a fledgling nation to establish its society. Foremost in the parashah are the laws pertaining to how to treat servants/slaves, something that Bnei Yisrael had not learned from the Egyptian example. The newly free people had to learn how to treat those who would be in their service, followed by rules about how to treat those less fortunate all punctuated by the refrain: Be nice because you were strangers in Egypt and you know how it feels to be oppressed. Once a series of social laws are listed, the parashah delineates laws that will enrich the nation’s spiritual side and secure its bond with God. Our Shabbat dinner will be a recognition of the four cornerstones of that relationship: Shabbat and the Shalosh Regalim, three festival. The meal will consist of foods associated with Shabbat (challah, wine, fish, chicken); Pesach (matzah balls); Shavuot (vegetable blintzes with pareve sour cream); and Sukkot (stuffed vegetables, hearts of palm salad). Some of our dinner conversation will focus on Kedushat Hazman. What does it mean to sanctify time? Why do we celebrate holidays? How do they help us build our relationship with Hashem?
For Shabbat lunch we will concentrate on the famous phrase, Bnei Yisrael’s complete acceptance of the Torah with the words, “na’aseh v’nishma,” “We will do and we will hear.” To do so, I will fill the table with ear-related foods, ears of corn, wood ear (or something that can stand in) mushrooms, oznei haman, elephant ears. With the focus on hearing in our house anyway (I have a child who is hearing impaired), we will be able to analyze why Bnei Yisrael says that it will hear, rather than believe, see, keep, or any other verb, when it accepts the Torah. Why is hearing the action that follows the doing?
Enjoy the food for thought!