top of page
  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

Ta Sh'ma- Come and Learn!

Updated: Feb 15, 2023


Parshat Mishpatim seals the covenant for the Israelites but equally important, the Parsha begins to lay out laws for the people to live by. These laws range from property law, to laws that support the powerless and laws that describe conditions for slavery.


This is a parsha worth savoring, because the transition we witness is sweeping. We have gone from individual contacts with God, to the growth of the tribes, to the emigration to Egypt, to years of enslavement and then newfound freedom for the slaves, to Matan Torah. In this Parsha we stand with them in the desert with the Hebrews, cementing the deal and learning for the first time what will be required from this covenant with God.

I am fascinated with the evolution of laws. As a fledgling student of Daf Yomi, (Learning a page of Talmud a day for seven plus years), I am aware of the centrality of Parshat Mishpatim in the evolution of the law. It is fascinating how the rabbis comb the Tanach for supporting evidence to create Jewish law. Using Parshat Mishpatim plus every letter, sentence and word, the rabbis painstakingly develop a code of law which is recorded for us to struggle with even now.


This poem is a path that leads from creation to our own daily study of Talmud. I am grateful to be on that path.

***



Ta Sh’ma-Come and Learn!


From nothingness.


From the primordial deep.

From the ruins of the flood.

From individual to family.

From family to tribe.

From tribe to community.

From community to nation.

From nation to society,

to covenant.


From mountain to valley.

From thunder to silence.

From God to human.

From offering to acceptance.


From inspiration to thought.

From thought to speech.

From speech to letter.

From letter to word.

From word to phrase.

From phrase to clause.

From clause to paragraph.


From concept to law.

From fire to stone.

From brush to parchment.

From parchment to page.

From page to chapter.

From chapter to volume.

From volume to collection.

From collections to volumes.


From Chok to Mishpat

From understanding to interpretation.

From interpretation to revision.

From revision to application.

From application to practice.

From practice to questions.

From questions to interpretation.


From minority voice to majority.


From voices left.

From voices right.


From actions to consequences.

From loopholes to exceptions.


From Sinai to the elders.

From the elders to the rabbis.

From Jerusalem to Yavneh

From the Tannaim to Amoraim.

From Amoraim to Geonim.

From the Rishonim to the Achronim.

From Yerushalmi to the Bavli.

From Rashi to ibn Ezra.

From ibn Ezra to Ramban.

From Moshe to Moshe.


From century to century.


From this one to that one.

From that one to this one.


From then until now.

La’zman Hazeh.


From The Land eastward.

From The Land westward.


From the word to the Daf.

From the Daf to the Masechet.

From day to day.

From month to month.

From year to year.


From questions to more questions

and then begin it all again.


From past to present.

From present to future.


And now.


A page a day.


And so it goes.

And so it is passed on.


So travels the law

from Sinai.


Ta-Sh‘Ma

Come and learn!


 

משֶׁה קִבֵּל תּוֹרָה מִסִּינַי, וּמְסָרָהּ לִיהוֹשֻׁעַ, וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ לִזְקֵנִים, וּזְקֵנִים לִנְבִיאִים, וּנְבִיאִים מְסָרוּהָ לְאַנְשֵׁי כְנֶסֶת הַגְּדוֹלָה. הֵם אָמְרוּ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים, הֱווּ מְתוּנִים בַּדִּין, וְהַעֲמִידוּ תַלְמִידִים הַרְבֵּה, וַעֲשׂוּ סְיָג לַתּוֹרָה:

Moses received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Men of the Great Assembly. They said three things: Be patient in [the administration of] justice, raise many disciples and make a fence round the Torah.

Pirkei Avot 1:1 (Translation from



I based my poem on a series of laws listed in Parshat Mishpatim. Here are just a few.

These are the rules that you shall set before them: When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment. Exodus 21:1,2


When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner of the ox is not to be punished.

Exodus 21:28


When a man gives money or goods to another for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the man’s house—if the thief is caught, he shall pay double;

Exodus 22:6


Translation from Sefaria


 

Glossary:


Ta- Shema-Ta Shema is the Aramaic phrase for "come and learn," which was used in the Talmud to indicate when the rabbis wanted to dive deeper into a text. (taken from the website Learn With Rabbi Bender)









62 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page