Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
This week's parashah, Mishpatim, is the continuation of the events that occurred at Mount Sinai. As you may remember from last week's d'var Torah, many classic interpretations are based on the principle that there is no real chronological order to the Torah. An interpretation written by Rashi (12th century France) on this week's parashah again uses this device to interpret the narrative. For Rashi claims that Exodus 24:1-12, which appears to occur after the giving of the 10 commandments, is actually a "flashback" to the events that occurred in the days prior to the revelation at Sinai. In these verses Moses recounts to the people all the words of God and the people ratify the covenant by stating "all that God has spoken we will do" (v. 3). Moses then writes down the "words of God" and reads "the account of the covenant ... in the ears of the people [and the people then respond] 'all that God has spoken, we will do and we will hear'." After this section Moses is then told by God to "go up to the mountain and remain there, that I may give you tablets of stone with the instructions and the command."