Dean's Letter Shekalim

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

Monday and Tuesday of this week were nothing short of magical, as our parents and community joined together with care and purpose to make our matching campaign the great success that it was. When setting up these campaigns, we are always careful not to set a goal that is too high, although the funds are certainly needed. We set a goal of raising $125,000, but once the campaign started, it became readily apparent that this campaign would shatter all records of success, raising a total of $207,724.92!

Rabbi Berel Wein related on this week’s parshah:

    Everyone is aware of the truth that the devil is in the details. Broad agreements and general agendas, no matter how well intentioned and high-minded, many times falter in the attempted resolution of the details of their execution. The Torah represents not only the exalted general principles of meaningful life and necessary morality, but it also presents us with the nitty-gritty details that form the building blocks for such a noble life. Thus, the parshah of Yisro, which dealt with the exalted general picture of Torah and G-dly service as revealed at Sinai, is followed hard by the Parshah of Mishpotim, which is replete with the small details that eventually make up the great issues of human life.

    Thus, in this Parshah of Mishpotim, we come face to face with the situations in life that trouble us and sap our moral will. In a world that forces us to interact constantly with other human beings, there are times when our own self-interest conflicts with the welfare of others. How are we to deal with such situations? How does the Torah wish us to treat servants, orphans, the poor, and the defenseless? What about damages and torts and conflicting property claims and rights? Anyone who has witnessed the usual behavior of the two drivers involved in a minor fender-bender accident will quickly realize that unless there is a moral internal discipline that has previously been clearly detailed and enforced in such a situation, the human damage will be far greater than the property damage.

    And therefore, the logic of the detailed halochos and mitzvos, which comprise most of the subject matter of Parshas Mishpotim following Parshas Yisro, is clear and understandable.

    The Rabbis of the Talmud stated that “one who desires to be considered a pious and righteous person must first study the words of the Torah as they deal with the laws of damages, torts, property, and commerce.” For it is in those everyday difficult confrontations with life and the real world, with the obstinacy of others and the temptations of greed and imagined gain, that the character of the righteous and pious is formed and annealed. In Torah, honesty and justice, compassion for others and strength of moral character, are not generalities or ideals. They are to be translated into everyday actions and behavior patterns. Only through the knowledge and implementation of the laws of Parshas Mishpotim can the great vision of Parshas Yisro be realized.

There is no way that this campaign could have been successful without the hard work of our entire parent body, NEAT students, and the many generous donors who gave for the express purpose of providing financial aid for needy families. The school allocates tremendous amounts of money for scholarships, and with COVID-related scholarships this year, our challenge seemed insurmountable. The outpouring of support from our parent body in the form of personal gifts and solicitation was nothing short of outstanding. We proved that we as Jews are a holy nation.

Special thanks to our campaign chairpeople, Mrs. Mindy Schachter and Avigayil Rauch, for their herculean efforts to organize the campaign and take care of all the details, from data input and sharing lists to attending to the many emails and calls relating to the campaign. They were supported by Mrs. Kathleen Frazier. Many thanks to Rabbi Lapin and Mrs. Weiner for their support in coordinating schedules for this event., and to Avigayil S. for making sure our messages are truly professional. Special thanks to the team Abish and Ephraim Seif for the campaign video, as well as all the NEAT students who were instrumental in making phone calls.

Parshas Mishpotim describes the laws pertaining to bein odom lachaveiro and our responsibility to help each other. We have learned these Torah lessons well, focusing on the needs of others rather than acting alone for personal gain. I thank our parents, teachers, students, and donors from the bottom of my heart for all that you did to make this campaign an amazing success.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman