Mishpatim – Guidance

*In a poetic and metaphorical—though never literal—sense there are ideas and qualities that endure as Godliness. Theology

20 Observe: I am sending a messenger to you, to protect you on your journey; to bring you into the place that I have prepared.

Exodus 23

To be safely led, to walk along without fear—no road map or compass, just to be able to travel along with that sign from God’s messenger—that is what we desire. 

Where is the guidance now? Have you seen that messenger? If not, how can we reach him?

Which way should we go? Have you seen the way? If not, where can it be found? Are we so feeble and blind that we can not find our own way home to our land?

8 God as you went be before your people; as you marched through with wilderness!! 9 the earth shook, even the skies rained down before God; this is Sinai, before God, the god of Israel.

Psalm 68

For so long we have been lost or abandoned in Egypt. A few days have shaken our world and thrown us out into a desert. A silent cry enveloped in an anguished appeal sounded in the wilderness for the direction to be made clear.

12 YHWH spoke to Moses: come up to me on the mountain – wait there. I will give you the tablet so stone, and the teachings and the commandments that I have written, to instruct them… 15 Moses went up the mountain, the mountain that was covered with a cloud. 16 The presence of YHWH was upon Mount Sinai, it was cloud-covered for six days; on the seventh day Moses was called from out of the cloud.

Exodus 24

That messenger has to be clear to us now! The time for guidance is now!

No more cloudy mysteries or shiny miracles, just give us a strong sense of direction now!

Who exactly is that messenger? A police officer who is pointing and directing us on the road ahead? A teacher who is setting out strict lessons for us to learn? A preacher who is telling us loudly how to behave? An old man who is trying to articulate his vision of the future?

11 I taught you about wisdom; I guided you about integrity. 12 While walking, your steps will not falter; and if you run, you will not fail.

Proverbs 4
Shiviti stop sign
Shiviti stop sign

I have always set YHWH over above me

Psalm 16, 8

Eventually, we need decide on the direction. Anyone who sees a signpost must rush to point it out, so we can perceive the best way to go forward. We may grope, go the wrong way sometimes, but we will manage this journey because we are on it together!

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021