I saw a post on Facebook recently entitled “How Every Game of Monopoly Ends”. There was a five second video clip under the title with a young man, enraged, slamming his hands on the table and then throwing the game board across the room. My first response was a chuckle but then I thought how true it really was. I remember several games ending that way throughout my life. I struggle when games go on forever because the rules call for it. I feel like I am going in literal circles, getting mocked by the other players. I get especially frustrated learning new games that take a lot of strategy and the people teaching you play competitively. It’s as if they invited me to play in order to guarantee their victory. But even though I get frustrated and upset, I try to look beyond what’s happening in that moment to realize in the end the game will be fun.
I bring up rules because this week’s parsha, Mishpatim, introduces 53 mitzvot. Last week we read about the revelation at Sinai. God now lays out a series of laws for the people of Israel. These include laws on slavery, the penalties for murder, kidnapping, assault, and theft. There are laws about redress of damages, the granting of loans, and the rules governing the conduct of justice by the courts of law. We also read about the observance of festival holidays, the prohibition against cooking meat with milk, and the mitzvah of prayer. The laws are wide ranging in topic and intensity. Each of them plays an important role in shaping the way the people of Israel will live.
After God lays out the new laws, there is a promise given to the people. The people of Israel are told that God is sending an angel to protect them on their journey to the land that has been set aside for them. God instructs them to obey the angel and if they follow what God states their enemies will be no more, they will be blessed with food and drink, and illness will be removed from their midst. If they follow the rules set forth, the land will be theirs.
The connection between following the rules and receiving positive outcomes is something I think we can all relate to. Whether it be with a board game that will bring fun to all that play, or a child who is rewarded for doing chores around the house, or even working hard at your job and then receiving accolades or a promotion. If you follow the rules, positive things will happen. And on the flip side, breaking a rule or law will create challenges for you. If you decide that speeding in your car is the only way to get somewhere on time and you are pulled over, the consequences only increase. Not only will you show up late now, but you will have to pay the fine, potentially have to go to court or traffic school. Maybe your insurance rates go up because of the ticket you received. The list goes on and on.
It’s important to look at the whole picture. Even though the rules and laws may be frustrating, when followed they can benefit everyone. The next time you sit down for that game of family Monopoly think about whether or not you should throw your game pieces at Grandma because she keeps charging you several thousand dollars in rent for landing on Park Place and Boardwalk. It’s just a game and following the rules and enjoying your time together is much more meaningful.
- Shabbat Mishpatim - February 7, 2018
- Shabbat Va’eira - January 11, 2018
- Shabbat Vayishlach - November 29, 2017
- Shabbat Vayeira - November 2, 2017
- Shabbat Shof’tim - August 23, 2017
- Shabbat Pinchas - July 13, 2017
- Shabbat Sh’lach L’cha - June 16, 2017
- Shabbat Emor - May 11, 2017
- The Physical Sanctuary Space - September 13, 2015