The Torah Portion for this Shabbat is Mishpatim

The Torah reading for this week’s Shabbat is Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1-24:18), the sixth portion in the book of Exodus. It includes commandments about a variety of civil and moral laws, plus about the Sabbath day and the Sabbatical Year, and the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavu’ot).

The Haftarah reading is Jeremiah 34:8-22, and 33:25-26. It describes how in Judah people at first freed their slaves and serfs, but then took them back into servitude; and how Jeremiah denounced this practice and predicted dire punishment for it. This is linked to early passages in the Torah portion about the rights of servants (Exodus 21:2-11). The Haftarah passage also contains (34:9) the earliest mention of the Hebrew word Jew (Yehudi) in the Jewish Bible.

The image below is “The Presence of the Lord Appeared as a Fire on the Top of the Mountain”, an illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company.