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Tehillim on the Parsha: Mishpatim: 99:4 Part Two

“Mighty is the King Who loves justice. You founded fairness. The justice and righteousness of Jacob, You have made.” (Kabbalat Shabbat) According to one view this verse means that God will display Divine Justice when He redeems Jacob from exile. However, others maintain that the verse refers to God’s justice and righteousness that was most evident when He gave the Torah with its Mishpatim to Jacob at Sinai. – Radak

We know that there is a vast difference between teaching justice and making it evident. The constitutions of the most corrupt governments insist on justice. How did God make His justice and righteousness evident at Sinai? Was His justice not manifest when He punished the Egyptians, especially when He drowned them in the sea? Was His righteousness not evident when He provided water from Miriam’s Well, and fed each person according to his need? What was more clear about God’s justice and righteousness at Sinai?

“God said to Moshe, ‘Ascend to Me to the mountain.” “Moshe ascended the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.” At this point of Sinai, God was to be “found” above the mountain, in the heavens, distant, in another world.

Something changed after Moshe ascended the mountain: “The glory of God rested upon Mount Sinai.” God came down to the mountain, to Moshe, to the people. God’s justice and righteousness was not fully evident until He showed the people that He was immediately present in their lives. He would descend to meet those willing to ascend. God does not live in the distant heavens, above the mountain demanding that we ascend all the way up to Him; He meets us as we ascend.

God is not the Ruler Who lives removed from the people, at a distance. He is immediately present. It is there where we meet Him and He meets us. His laws are not demands only open to those willing to climb up to the heavens. His laws are the meeting point between heaven and earth. They are the basis of a relationship. They are as much an expression of His commitment to us as they are of our obligation to Him. It is only at that meeting point where we can fully experience and appreciate His justice and righteousness.

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