Last night I had the privilege of hearing Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau speak at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue.
It was the official launch of his book Jeremiah – The Fate of a Prophet.
I was excited to attend because I enjoy hearing Rabbi Lau speak and because of the nature of this book.
I’m sure you know, the prophetic book Jeremiah is not easy to read or understand.
Rabbi Lau has taken Jeremiah and rearranged it in chronological order. Putting events and prophecies in this order makes things much easier to understand.
He pointed out last night that a discussion of Jeremiah is better during the week before Tisha B’Av. He is, after all, the prophet of destruction.
However, R. Lau directed us to the prophecy recorded in Chapter 22. Jeremiah makes his first appearance before King Jehoiakim.
He tells the king (verse 3) “Thus said the Lord: Do justice and righteousness [mishpat u’tzedakah]”
Well, what do you know? God is giving the king a two word summary of his goals in life and as king.
I discussed this idea yesterday.
It turns out, this is not the first time these two concepts have been paired up.
Way back in Genesis God says about Abraham,
For I know him, that he will instruct his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord, to do what is right and just [tzedakah u’mishpat].
You might ask, what’s the difference between these two concepts?
It turns out that Jeremiah praises King Jehoiakim’s father (verse 22:15) for having lived based on mishpat u’tzedakah.
Malbim on that verse explains that:
mishpat is how a person treats other people
tzedakah is how a person behaves before God.
I hope this gives you some ideas about setting your own goals for 5774.
G’mar Chatima Tova