שְׁמוֹת / shemos / shemot / Exodus 21:1-24:18
Partly inspired by a dvar Torah from Jewish Deaf Multimedia – watch it here in ASL!
Three kinds of mitzvos – so let’s keep all of them!
There are Eidos and Chukim and Mishpatim;
Such confusing words; let’s find out what they mean!
Eidos help remember special times in our past,
Chukim we could never dream up, and then at last,
Mishpatim, the mitzvos to be good and excel,
Mitzvos, we shall see, that help us all live very well.
A CHOK is a different kind of mitzvah, you know
It gives us small hints of how we all can grow.
We don’t understand it at all, but that’s fine;
Chukim are Hashem’s way to tell us, “you’re mine.”
Don’t mix wool and linen, but we cannot know why,
Though you might shake your fist way on up to the sky.
We can think it all through but the answer’s not clear;
Hashem is testing us, so let’s all listen and hear.
An EID is a witness and that’s what we all are,
Remembering our past and spreading it afar.
Eidos are mitzvos from the Torah we hold dear,
Reminding us always; keeping memories near.
On Pesach, it’s matzah we take and eat both nights;
Recalling for all time those most astounding sights.
As soon as we learn it all, we can clearly see,
Remembering all of that will help you and me.
But what about a MISHPAT? Just what is meant by those?
Why, that’s a very simple mitzvah, as plain as your nose!
Mishpatim are the laws you might find in any land;
Rules that keep us happy, and living like we’d planned.
Killing and stealing? Of course we know that’s wrong!
Why does Hashem tell us, if we knew it all along?
At Har Sinai, we heard Hashem’s awesome news,
Why such easy mitzvos now for such committed Jews?
You might think it’s obvious not to kill and steal,
Why’s the Torah coming in, inventing a new wheel?
But in different generations, different countries, too,
Things like that just weren’t so plain that everybody knew.
“We have to steal!” they might say, “so we can get rich,
We’ll knock this old guy over, leave him in a ditch.”
Our brain is a marvel, a sophisticated thing,
Thinking up those reasons, bubbling up like from a spring.
So Mishpatim are rules that seem clear to us now,
But even if things changed, we’d all keep them anyhow.
Others do them if they feel that they are just and good,
But we keep them always, for Hashem told us we should.
But why is it, anyway, we’re given such a lot:
Tons of little mitzvos bubbling up like from a pot?
The “easy” ones are there though we would do them anyway -
Just so Hashem can have a chance for our reward to pay!
רצה הקדוש ברוך הוא לזַכּוֹת את ישראל, לפיכך הרבה להם תורה ומצוות:
Ratzah haKadosh Baruch hu – Hashem wanted so, so much,
LeZakos es Yisrael – for our Jewish hearts to touch;
LeFichach hirba lahem – so he gave us many mitzvos, all in a row,
Torah u’mitzvos – so a life of living Torah we will all merit to know!