The most astonishing thing about Parshat Mishpatim is Parshat Mishpatim. Rav Adin Steinsaltz asks:
“How is it that we transition from the dramatic and emotional event of Mount Sinai in the previous parshah to a parshah with 53 mitzvot that encompass every area of life? How is it possible to go from the giving of the Torah to instructions on how to care for your donkey or responding to someone breaking your tooth or injuring you?”
He answers: “In order to do great things, we need to start with the smallest details. Only in this way can we create meaning and perpetuate Mount Sinai, bringing what happened there into our everyday lives.
“In contrast to the saying that ‘The ends justify the means,’ the Torah calls upon us to see things completely differently and declares that ‘The means justify the ends.’
“We cannot keep the thunder and lightning of Sinai with us, but we can take the spirit of Sinai and incorporate it into mitzvoth – whether we are at the market, at home, in the bank or the car.
“We are accustomed to gazing up towards heaven when we speak about G-d, but Parshat Mishpatim teaches us that He is also found in the paper money we use for buying things, in the apples we eat, and in our relationship with the parking lot attendant.”
(Translation by Yehoshua Siskin)