Shalom friends! I hope you had the most beautiful Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Adar! I know we are already gearing up for parshas Terumah, but I want to share a thought I had over Shabbos on the opening pesukim in parshas Mishpatim. (The tzaddikim teach that the first three days of the week draw their energy from the preceding Shabbos, so I don’t feel so bad…)

These are admittedly huge ideas which require hakdamos that are beyond the scope of this short essay. (If you are interested in learning more, a good start is Appendix E of my brand-new book, “The Story of Our Lives”! In general, this theme is the premise of the entire book.) I hope you enjoy, and please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

The parsha begins: “V’eileh hamishpatim asher tasim lifneihem.”

Rashi comments: “Eileh” cancels that which came before it. “V’eileh” adds on to that which came before it.

One of the primary goals in avodas Hashem is for our observance of the Torah and mitzvos to increase k’vod Shamayim and further reveal Hashem’s Malchus-Kingship in the world. A key factor in assuring that this process is effective is one’s exploration of the Torah’s source; the premise of Halacha and its ultimate purpose – cultivating a deep and vibrant relationship with the Master of the world.

The essential Name of Hashem, the “Shem Havaya”, contains four letters. As the most fundamental spiritual blueprint of all the worlds, these four letters allude to millions of concepts and ideals.Among these various systems, we find the following: The letter “Yud” alludes to “Chochmah,” holistic (big-picture) cognition. The letter “Heh” alludes to “Binah,” particular (detail-oriented) cognition . The letter “Vav” alludes to the system of Halacha which is marked by six (gematriya of “Vav”) dialectics; Kosher-Pasul, Tamei-Tahor, Mutar-Assur, explicated in the Shishah Sidrei Mishnah. Lastly, the final “Heh” alludes to “Malchus,” the degree to which we use our independent consciousness to manifest Hashem’s Kingship in our lives and the world at large.

Today, most Jews attempt to activate their aspect of “Malchus” with pure Halachic observance alone, engaging primarily with the four facets of how/what/when/where of yiddishkeit (hinted to in the letter ‘Dalet’ associated with ‘Malchus’, “d’leis (dalet) lah m’garmeih klum”). But the tzaddikim teach that in order for one’s experience of “Malchus” to become complete, it must draw from a level beyond the “Vav”, Malchus‘ (Daughter) Source in Binah (Mother).

Binah is associated with Olam Haba, a deep understanding of the “why” that permeates the aspects of how/what/where/when and fills one’s engagement with those actions with the spirit of paradise, passion, and personal commitment. (Perhaps this is why the letter that signifies this level, as well as the completion of Malchus it fosters, is “Heh”, alluding to the four elements of how/what/where/when permeated with the fifth element of “why”.)

In our generation, there is an increasing interest in understanding the “why’s” of our tradition, a deep thirst for the Source from which everything else extends; the understanding of Hashem’s love and His desire for a relationship with us that serves as the theological (Aggadic) Source of Halacha’s dialectic analysis. Indeed, there is a growing awareness that this is what is necessary in order to stave off the malady of “Orthopraxy”; rote, robotic observance of Halacha within which so many feel ‘trapped’, instead of experiencing the spirit of freedom and divine pleasure that should rightly fill our religious actions.

Perhaps we may suggest that this is exactly what the Torah is guiding us to do:

“V’eileh hamishpatim”: The rashei teivos of these words, which refer to the Torah’s statutes, are “Vav Heh”. This can be seen as alluding to the aspect of Malchus, human identity (“Heh” of Shem Havaya) which seeks to engage with the system of Halacha (“Vav” of Shem Havaya).

“Asher tasim l’fneihem”: The word “lifneihem”, “before them”, may also be seen as a reference to “penimiyus”, the requirement to delve beyond the surface of our tradition and discover the interiority of the mitzvos. It also hints to the second (the word “lifneihim” is in plural form) of the two cognitive powers contained in the head, behind the face (“panim“).

Should anyone protest to this endeavor by claiming that previous generations didn’t follow this path and that engaging with penimiyus haTorah (the “why’s” of our tradition) represents a break from tradition and a disrespect to those that walked before us, Rashi already tells us that while “Eileh” indeed comes “l’pasul es harishonim”, to cancel that which came before it, “v’eileh” comes only “l’hosif al harishonim”, to add on to what they began; to keep every iota of Halacha, but with renewed excitement and passion stemming from a deeper perspective into Hashem’s motive for creation and the overarching system into which all of halacha’s disparate details find their place.

The next verse states, “Ki sikneh eved ivri, shesh shanim yaavod, uvashvi’is yeitzei lachofshi chinam.”

Perhaps there is a deeper meaning here as well: When a Jew feels enslaved (“eved ivri“) by Halacha (“shesh shanim yaavod” – the “Vav” of Shem Havaya), the remedy is to access the seventh realm of Binah which sits beyond the “Sixness of Halacha” (“uvashvi’is“), a realm of Yovel-freedom and unrestricted harchava-expansion (“yeitzei lachoshi chinam“).

Finally, the pesukim continue, “Im b’gapo yavo, b’gapo yeitzei, im baal isha hu, v’yatza ishto imo.”

When one has connected to the realm of freedom (“b’gapo yavo“), he shall indeed manifest that freedom in his actions (“b’gapo yeitzei“) – (fascinatingly, the rashei teivos of b‘gapo yavo b‘gapo yeitzei” spell “Aviv”, the spring, during which am Yisrael was redeemed from Mitzratim-Meitzarim; “min hameitzar karasi Kah, anani bamerchav Kah” [Yud HehChochmah and Binah]). Then, and only then, if one experiences a halachic observance bursting with the spirit of Binah-Understanding (“im baal IshahBinah/Imah hu“), will he truly be considered to have activated his expression of “Malchus D’Keushah” in the most complete way (“v’yatza ishtoMalchus/Nukvah imo“).

Baruch Hashem l’olam amein v’amen.

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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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