Dvar Torah Parshat Mishpatim 5773 2013

Many people question the need for studying the Talmud. Isn’t it sufficient to study the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, to learn the commandments that constitute our religious practices and we can then live a true religious Jewish life? Why are we required to spend years of study when all we have to know is what we are obliged to perform?
The answer lies in the explanation of the first verse in this Sidra. The Torah starts with the words: “And these are the laws, אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם which you shall place before them.” (Ex. 21,1) Rashi expounds on these words and says: Hashem said to Moshe, “It should not enter your mind to say ‘I shall teach them a section of the Torah or a single Halachah twice or three times until it becomes clear in their minds … but I shall not take the trouble to make them understand the reasons of each thing and its significance’… therefore the Torah says אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם which thou shall set before them like a table fully laid before a person with everything ready for eating.”
True, if one studies the Code of Jewish Laws he will know what is required of him but he will not understand the meaning and significance of it. That is what the study of the Talmud will give him. There the laws are expounded, discussed, analyzed and made meaningful. It is tragic that not all people have devoted time to the study of the Talmud.

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