PARSHAT MISHPATIM: KEEP THE FLAME BURNING!
By Sherrie B. Miller
“And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them.” (Exodus 21:1)
Beginning the Parsha with the word “And,” indicates that there is a strong and significant
connection between the last Parsha of Yitro containing the 10 commandments, and
Mishpatim, the longest “to do” list in the Torah, of practical mitzvoth.
Perhaps, the Torah is teaching us that the only way to sustain the “high of the
Sinai experience is by constantly engaging in daily and often times mundane activities
that promote the well being of others. We are exhorted to free ourselves from modern
day slavery of workaholism, TV addiction, self-indulgence and overall “ME” generation
“Na’aseh V’nishma” is the Jewish response to a world seeking convenience and immediate
gratification. When G-d approached all the nations and offered them the Torah, they
had numerous questions and hesitations about transforming themselves into more G-d
like people, causing the ultimate rejection of G-d and His gift of Torah and the
possibility of mutual intimacy.
While many wonder why G-d chose the Jews and made them His “Chosen People,” the
reality is, that the Jews chose Him! Their response: “we will do and we will listen,”
demonstrates their commitment to do the commandments even before “feeling” the urge.
This attitude which propelled the Jew to greatness is antithetical to modern day
psychology which espouses following one’s heart and doing what “feels good.” This
creates havoc as there is no absolute standard of action and relegates each individual
to judge how to behave based on his/her own subjective judgment, and decide what
is proper and what is not.
Mishpatim comes to teach us that the way to emulate G-d and accept His offer to
be His partner in creation is through concretization of the “love at first sight”
encounter at Sinai through effort and commitment to a higher and holier ideal than
To help us in this regard, the first commandment to Man, is to be fruitful and multiply.
The midrash teaches that only through the union of the male and female soul is Man
truly whole. It is only then, that we are truly challenged to put another first
and invest in another through constant acts of chessed, the epitome of G-d Himself.
It is no coincidence that “nisuin” (marriage) and “nisayon” (challenge) are etymologically
similar. “Nisuin” means to raise ourselves to holier level, and this is done through
grappling with the challenges that can only be encountered in a committed relationship.
Therefore, we are taught that the reward for one who does something because he/she
is commanded to do so is far greater than the reward of one who acts out of personal
predilection. Such a choice will be solely based on the individual’s subjective
opinion and mood at the time of the other’s need!
The Jews trusted Hashem when He offered his Torah and knew that He would not offer
something that was unattainable.
As singles, it behooves us to get acquainted with our matchmaker and make sure that
we can indeed have a reasonable level of trust in their suggestions of potential
At that point, one ought to do the appropriate amount of homework to ascertain that
the potential match has a fine reputation before proceeding with the meeting.
Once the meeting is set, the question should be: “why not” this person, instead
of “why yes?” and the confusing type of thinking that perhaps tomorrow “something
better” will come along. This is a recipe in futility! There is no end to the numbers
of people that we can meet in the search for the “best!” The focus of “making the
“right choice” ought to be predicated on “being” the right choice, working now and
forever on self-improvement. This can only happen within a committed relationship
while each are also committed and determined to engage in fulfilling the Torah to
the best of their ability.
“We will do and we will feel later” requires the “ratzon” (desire) that Hashem planted
in us to be close to Him, and the commitment to build a Jewish home that is loyal
to creating a dwelling place for G-d on earth.
The more we give to our partner, the more our love for them grows as we are invested
in them and are truly a part of them. That’s how a good marriage keeps growing from
good to great!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.