Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Mishpatim - 5777
Although the Torah is not always recorded in a chronological order, nevertheless, we would expect to see a topic or story mentioned in the text, come to a conclusion before moving on to the next topic.
Yet, Pareshat Mishpatim, and it's description of the civil laws, is recorded in between two sections of the Torah that describe the events that occurred at Mount Sinai. In other words, the Torah, before completing the story of the revelation, moves on to the civil law, and then returns to the revelation at Sinai. Clearly, this is done to teach a message.
Commentators explain that while for other nations, justice is established for domestic tranquility and to promote the general welfare of a society, for the people of Israel it has a greater purpose as well. As a nation we need to be not only ethical, but also holy. However, holiness cannot be attained when ethics are ignored in the market place. Connecting to the creator begins with a proper attitude towards the commerce and market place interactions.
Thus, the Torah, in the middle of describing the magnificent events of the revelation, reminds the reader that the journey of spiritual growth begins in commerce and proper human contact with others.