|The Torah Connection-Mishpatim-They Know Them Not|
|Written by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg|
“He relates (magid) His words (devarav) to Yaakov (the Jewish People), His statutes (chukov) and His judgments (mishpatav) to Israel. He did not do so for any other people and judgments (mishpatim) they know them not.
The word “magid” (relates) is a strong (tough) type of saying as is the word “devarav” (words).
The connotation here of “magid devarav l’Yaakov” is that one must be precise and thorough regarding the mitzvos.
“Chukav” (statutes) “umishpatav.” Statutes are mitzvos which the human mind cannot understand, such as kosher, shaatnez (not wearing a mixture of wool and linen), not shaving with a razor, etc. “Mishpatim” are those mitzvos which we can readily understand such as not stealing, not killing, honoring one’s parents.
The pasuk (verse), however, doesn’t say here “mishpatim” but “mishpatav,” His mishpatim. The mishpatim of Hashem are not necessarily the same as mundane mishpatim. They often have an element of chok in them.
This is brought out by Rav Tzadok
“…there is a difference between our laws and their laws … many differences. These, their laws, are not called mishpatav of Hashem … only mishpatim stam (regular and mundane). This is what was given to them.”
“He did not do so for any other people (because they refused to accept the Torah) and mishpatim (regular mishpatim, as above) they know them not.” But if mishpatim are understood by the human mind why don’t they know them?
The Hebrew word for knowing here is “yediah.” Yediah is not knowledge or understanding per se, but the application of such knowledge into life situations and deeds. A “bar daas” is one who knows how to use and apply his knowledge.
Others also know how to apply their knowledge in matters that interest them and benefit them. However, when it comes to restrictions, even if those restrictions are readily understood, the application of that knowledge is not readily forthcoming.
That is why “umishpatim bal yeda’um.” We readily see this in the scandals that unfold before us almost daily.
Seforim (books) state that the hashpa’ah (giving over, influence) from Hashem to us is always the same. However, the amount or form of that hashpa’ah, if it is benevolent or otherwise, depends on the mekabel, the one who receives, meaning us. The concept is a little difficult to grasp.
Years ago I would enjoy taking a breath of fresh air before retiring for the night. To do this I would stand on our porch for a minute or two. On looking out, the farthest I could see at night was the beginning of the lawns across the street. Once, after it had snowed and the ground was covered, I noticed that I could see across to the next block. The light source, whether from the moon or the street lamps, was the same as on other nights. The mekabel, however, had changed and was able to reflect the light source for a greater distance.
1 ibid 19-20
2 Rashi Exodus 19:3; Mechilta ibid; Shabbos 87a (as opposed to “amirah” which is softer).
3 Rashi Numbers 12:1; see also Genesis 42:30.
4 I once wrote elsewhere that the chukim perhaps are the mishpoatim of the future world. Just like we now have no concept of the realities of the future world, we also have no concept of the mishpatim of the future (our chukim). Far from being a proof to that, it is perhaps nevertheless a smach (a support) from the yehi ratzon near the end of “uva l’tzion goel” – “that we should keep Your chukim in this world and thereby merit to live … in the years of Moshiach and the future world.”
5 Actually it is through the chukim that we explicitly recognize the sovereignty of Hashem. A person might keep the mishpatim because he understands through his own mind their importance. In a sense, then, he is not serving Hashem but his own sense of right and wrong. It is only through the chukim that one recognizes and thereby actually serves G-d.
6 For example, if “A” leaves his pit open and “B”’s donkey and utensils fall into the pit, “A” is responsible for the dead donkey but not for the broken utensils.
7 Pri Tzadik Yisro 3
8 See Rav Yosef Yehudah Leib Bloch in Shiurei Daas book 2 p. 151.
9 Rav Tzadok R’sisei Lailah 23b; Pri Tzadik Vayishlach 1.