Shalom 4th grade families. Morah Yiska and I would like to ask your help. The students will be bringing home a sheet that explains what we learned this week in our study of Parashat Mishpatim. We are going to send you an email each week with a summary of what the students should be telling you about what they have written. Please keep us informed if your student is not sharing these things accurately. Thanks
This week in fourth grade we learned about Parashat Mishpatim. Mishpatim are rules. In this Parashah the Children of Israel are given an extensive list of rules and they respond with the line “נעשה ונשמע” (naaseh veh nishma) which literally means – “We will do and we will hear”. This is a puzzling sentence construction, because usually humans listen and then they do. So what does this mean? We looked to the responses of two Torah scholars from the past to try to understand. They were contemporaries along the timeline, but lived in different countries.
Rabbi Iben Ezra, who lived about 900 years ago in Spain, wrote that Naaseh (we will do) corresponds to the positive commandments—or the ones where we are asked “to do” something (for example-Honoring your parents would be a positive commandment) and Nishma (we will hear-listen) corresponds to the negative commandments—or the ones where we are forbidden to do something (for example-you shall not murder would be an example of a negative commandment. Linguistically this one makes sense because how do you actually “do” a commandment that you are commanded not to “do”?
Rashbam (Rashi’s grandson), who lived about 900 years ago in France, wrote that Naaseh (we will do) concerned the Mitzvot that Moshe had already taught them and that Nishma (we will hear-listen) concerned the Mitzvot that they would receive in the future.
Both of these explanations are equally convincing to me, perhaps over the Shabbat table, you will think of other possibilities?
Morah Donna and Morah Yiska