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Halakha, Reform Judaism, and Informed Choice

In this week’s parsha, mishpatim, we are given many new laws. In the first verse of the chapter, we read: (וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים) “These are the laws” (אֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּשִׂ֖ים לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃) “which you shall set before them.” Included in the list are rules regarding the treatment of slaves and of the poor, observances for the Sabbath and the festivals, punishments for cases of murder and injury [specifically: (עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן) eye for eye (שֵׁ֖ן תַּ֣חַת שֵׁ֑ן) tooth for tooth… and so on (Ex. 21:24)]. This is also the first time we see the prohibition against mixing meat and milk. In her women's commentary, The Five Books of Miriam, Ellen Frankel offers multiple perspectives on this law.

What is freedom?

We speak often about breaking down our echo chambers by exposing ourselves to ideas and perspectives different from our own. On my recent trip to Israel, I was given the opportunity to assess my own opinions while learning alongside other rabbinical students from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox movements. Within each movement participants range across the political spectrum from conservative to liberal, with many moderates in between. While we disagreed on many things, we did so respectfully. And in the words of one of our speakers,, “in every disagreement lies an agreement.” On our trip, we all agreed that we cared about the future of Israel. As I was seeking new perspectives, I deepened

 
 

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