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Tehillim on the Parsha: Mishpatim: 99:4

“Mighty is the King Who loves justice.” (Kabbalat Shabbat) The Midrash asks. “When is it that we see might being given to the Holy One Blessed be He?” At the time that He does acts of judgment against those who serve idols. For so we find with the evil Nebuchadnezar, because he became get arrogant the Holy One Blessed be He said to him, “You are arrogant! Do you not know that all is mine? The Midrash concludes, “this is the time when God was seen as being mighty.” (Shemot Rabbah 30:1) God’s love of justice is the source of His might. Only after God applied justice to the Egyptians and Amalek, was His might expressed through Revelation at Sinai. This portion is intended to teach Israel that their own strength can only be expressed through Mishpatim – justice.

However, another midrash describes justice as guiding God’s might: A man who wields great power often regards himself as above the law and tends to abuse his power over others. However, the Holy One, Blessed is He, loves justice; therefore, He uses His might to enforce the law. (Midrash Shocher Tov) Mishpatim begins with the laws of owning a slave to teach Israel how justice toward the slave will guide and control their power over the weak.

“Restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first. Remove from us sorrow and groan. Speedily reign over us – You, God, alone – with kindness and compassion, and justify us through righteousness and judgment. Blessed are You, God, the King, Who loves righteousness and judgment.”

“Restore our judges as in earliest times and our counselors as at first,” as in the justice taught in Mishpatim, immediately after Sinai, when Your might was clear to the entire world.

“Remove from us sorrow and groan,” using justice to protect those who are vulnerable to the mighty and powerful.

“Justify us through righteousness and judgment,” can also be read as, ‘Keep us righteous,’ through Your laws of Tzedek and Mishpat.

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