web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Parshat Mishpatim


Hertzberg-020813

Almost all of us are familiar with the ubiquitous presence of Secret Service agents surrounding the President of the United States. With their sunglasses, conservative suits and squiggly earpieces, their presence projects a warning to any person who ponders attacking the president. Yet, out of view, but always nearby, is a vehicle that contains five or so heavily armed and armored agents, ready to respond to an attack at a moment’s notice. These agents are members of the Secret Service CAT (Counter-Assault team) teams.[1]

The CAT’s mission is “to neutralize organized attacks, multiple attackers, snipers from a known location, and rocket attacks against the president of the United States through the use of speed, surprise, and violence of action” (Within Arm’s Length by retired Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, 2012, p.70). CAT teams today enjoy an international reputation for expertise and professionalism. While the need for them in motorcades and presidential public appearances is painfully obvious, it wasn’t always the case.

The Secret Service, ironically established by Abraham Lincoln on the day of his assassination, was originally created to combat the proliferation of counterfeit money in Civil War America. It was only after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 that the Secret Service assumed the permanent assignment of protecting presidents. Throughout most of the 20th Century the Secret Service perceived the primary threat to the President as emanating from a lone gunman, since that is how presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy had been murdered.[2] In keeping with this threat perception the Secret Service’s leadership did not see the need for the development of a counter-terrorist unit. This was despite the fact that local police forces and many federal agencies already had established such units by the early 1980s.[3]

However, events in the 1980s finally forced the issue. With terrorism on the rise and America a target, the Secret Service leadership came to the realization that the lone gunman was no longer the sole or even primary threat to the president. Agents now had to be concerned with a well-planned terrorist attack consisting of several heavily armed assailants. Shift agents with revolvers would no longer suffice. It was this reality that led to the creation of CAT teams in the late 1980s. Initially, however, CAT teams were used only haphazardly. It wasn’t until 1992 that they became a part of the PPD (presidential protection division) and a permanent part of presidential security.

Leaders must stay in touch with what the current challenges and opportunities are for their organizations. The Secret Service leadership took too long to acknowledge the change in their mission. Only by the grace of G-d and the brave work of their agents did they avoid a major catastrophe. The shameful truth is that for much of the 1980s the Secret Service wasn’t ready.

Informed by this example, we can understand an additional reason for the Chazal quoted by Rashi at the beginning of this week’s parsha regarding the requirement that the Sanhedrin have its official seat near the mizbayach. The Rambam  (Hilchot Be’at HaMikdash 6:11) explains that the reason the Sanhedrin was situated within the confines of the Beit HaMikdash was to enable its members to be readily available to determine the halachic suitability of individual Kohanim to perform the Temple service. The Rambam’s ruling is based upon the Mishnah in Middot (5:4).This explanation presents a functional relationship and obvious necessity for the Sanhedrin’s location.

In light of the lesson from the Secret Service, namely, that leaders must be in touch with their people and their environment, and the Mishnah’s functional explanation, I believe we can suggest an additional related reason for the Sanhedrin’s location. Besides being the final arbiter of difficult legal cases and the licensing agency for Kohanim, the Sanhedrin was also responsible for the maintenance of the religious well-being of Bnei Yisrael. At times, to maintain a proper religious equilibrium, the Sanhedrin found it necessary to enact various laws, Takanot and Gezeirot. The essential difference between these two categories is that Takanot involved a law requiring the performance of a positive action whereas a Gezeirah required refraining from certain actions. The key determinants for such legislation were necessity and doability on the part of the people.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. David Hertzberg is the principal of the Yeshivah of Flatbush Middle Division and is an adjunct assistant professor of History at Touro College.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Parshat Mishpatim”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Dr. Ben Carson at the Western Wall.
Black GOP Leader Prays at the Western Wall for ‘Solomonic Wisdom’
Latest Judaism Stories
Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

To many of our brethren Chanukah has lost its meaning.

Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

It would have been understandable for these great warriors to become dispirited.

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

The travail of Yosef was undoubtedly the greatest trauma of Yaakov’s life, which certainly knew its share of hardships.

Yosef, in interpreting the first set of dreams, performed in a manner that was clearly miraculous to all.

Chazal teach us that we need to be “sur may’rah v’asei tov,”avoid bad and do good.

When we celebrate the completion of learning a section of Torah, we recite the Hadran.

Fetal Immersion?
‘The Fetus Is A Limb Of Its Mother’
(Yevamos 78a)

Yosef proves he is a true leader; He is continually and fully engaged in the task of running Egypt

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

Those who reject our beliefs know in their souls Jewish power stems from our faith and our prayers.

He stepped outside, and, to his dismay, the menorah was missing. It had been stolen.

Though we Jews have deep obligations to all people our obligation to our fellow Jew is unique.

In a way that decision was the first in a series of miracles with which Hashem blessed us.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Exploring the connection between Pharaoh’s dreams and the story of Joseph being sold into slavery.

More Articles from Rabbi David Hertzberg
Parsha-Perspective-Logo-NEW

This ability to remain calm under pressure and continue to see the situation clearly is a hallmark of Yehuda’s leadership.

Hertzberg-112114-Timing

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

Realizing that his death was immanent and he had only a few more moments, Moshe focuses on doing the most important thing: he runs to Bnei Yisrael and blesses them.

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

When Germany invaded neutral Belgium on August 4, England declared war on Germany. Thus, by the end of the first week of August all the major powers of Europe were at war.

Although famous for his smile, Ike Eisenhower actually harbored a volcanic temper that he worked arduously to control.

Why did we merit exiting the gas chamber alive when so many others did not?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/parshat-mishpatim-2/2013/02/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: