This week’s Torah portion is Mishpatim, a continuation of the statement of laws for the Jewish community. Can we be inspired by these laws? Even by the first letter of the first word? Read this commentary by Rabbi Ben Hollander.
Let’s look at that first letter, the “vav”—usually translated as the conjunction “and”. I remember an elementary school teacher who sternly forbade us to begin a sentence with “and”. Well, she would have liked the new-JPS translation of our verse: it leaves out the conjunction and translates simply, “These are the rules…!” (Similarly, Ex. l:l.) Besides the linguistic reasons, this fits how modern Biblical scholars regard the collection of laws in Mishpatim: a discrete “book”, the “Sefer Ha-Brit” (Book of the Covenant) of 24:7 whose ratification is described at the parashah’s end….
Go and Learn!