In Parshat Mishpatim, we learn how to treat one another fairly. We are told by the Torah, don’t follow people if what they are doing is evil! If you know what is right, follow yourself. It’s better to be alone and correct than evil, cheating and wrong with supporters. That being said, if only these things were that simple.
Rabbi Ariel Mizrachi once said a parable similar to this: “There was a father, a son and a donkey. The father had the son ride the donkey and as they passed a group of elders, they said: ‘What chutzpah (disrespect) that the son is sitting on the donkey! Has he no respect for his father?’ The father then switched places with his son and sat on the donkey, but as they continued to walk, they overheard another group of people say, ‘How could the father allow his son to walk so much? Does he not care for his son?’ After hearing that, the father put both himself and his son on the donkey, but as he passed another group of elders, they said that they were abusing this animal.
After that, the father decided that he, his son, and the donkey would just walk, and while walking passed more elders, he heard one laugh and say to the other, ‘You know what just passed us, three donkeys!’ They were laughing that no one was using the donkey—because the whole purpose for taking the donkey on the journey was to be ridden on—but, since they fell into the peer pressure of others and were so worried about what everyone thought, they ended up looking unwise.”
While you can learn from this that you can’t please everyone, I am retelling this story because I think it shows that sometimes our judgment on what is right can get clouded. After all, we hear so many other opinions that seem more valuable than ours. We think that some people may know better than us or don’t even allow our own thoughts, ideas or judgment to be used.
Parshat Mishpatim is telling us to use our judgment—even if so many people are saying to do something, if you know it is evil, don’t do it. Just because it is the majority, it doesn’t mean it is always right. Hashem gave us the Torah and gave us knowledge of what is right and wrong, so choose to follow the Torah and choose to do the right thing!
By Shira Sedek