Judaism sees the sparks of the Divine within the most mundane of activities. Revelation at Sinai is followed by a series of laws dealing with such topics as slavery, property damage, assault and battery, lost objects, and court procedures. While all societies have civil codes, Judaism sees these laws as rooted in the Divine system of justice. Their observance embodies the essence of Judaism no less—in fact, more—than the “rituals” of Judaism.
Symbols play a crucial role in self and group identification and affect almost everything we do. Be they roses or a diamond ring, symbols can speak louder than actions (not to mention words). Failure to understand the symbolic meaning behind many a gesture can lead to embarrassment and friction.
The Torah is a description of the relationship between G-d and man, and G-d and the Jewish people. The Torah begins with G-d’s creation of the world, but this world was purposeless without man. “Fill the earth and conquer it” (Breisheet 1:28) is G-d’s mandate to man. G-d’ s creation was incomplete, as it awaited man to perfect this world.
The prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel recited in many of our congregations assumes that the modern-day state is the "beginning of the flowering of our redemption". For many, the notion that a secular state could herald the redemption was and remains unthinkable, while others maintain that it is best not to suggest that we understand G-d's historical plans. An alternate version of the prayer for the State of Israel used in many synagogues in Britain omits this phrase.
The story is told that when the students of Rav Yisrael Salanter were preparing to bake matzah, they asked Rav Yisrael what they should be most careful about. Rav Yisrael, the founder of the Mussar movement, responded that they should ensure that the water buckets that the workers would have to carry for the baking of matzah should not be heavy. Worrying about possible chametz is important; worrying about the workers even more so.
Immediately after the Divine revelation at Sinai, the Torah in Parshat Mishpatim presents a long list of mitzvoth, highlighting the link between Torah and mitzvoth. G-d's covenant with the Jewish people is based on commandments that we must fulfill.
Yet as is so typical of Jewish thought, one idea is followed by an opposing one. The centrality of obligation is immediately followed by one highlighting the great role of the volunteer. "Speak to the children of Israel and take for me a portion from everyone whose heart motivates him" (Shemot 25:2).
Judaism sees the sparks of the Divine within the most mundane of activities. Revelation at Sinai is followed by a series of laws dealing with such topics as slavery, property damage, assault and battery, lost objects, and court procedures. While all societies have civil codes, Judaism sees these laws as rooted in the Divine system of justice. Their observance embodies the essence of Judaism no less—in fact more—than the “rituals” of Judaism.
Just as the Shabbat is the pinnacle of physical creation, the Mishkan is the pinnacle of spiritual creation. The Exodus and the revelation at Sinai find their ultimate expression in the Mishkan, which completes the redemptive process. It is for this reason, the Ramban explains, that the command to build the Mishkan is included in sefer Shemot. While Shabbat serves to remind us that G-d is the ultimate Creator, the Mishkan symbolizes G-d's continuing presence amongst us.