There’s a Dutch saying ‘er op of er onder!’, which translates literally as ‘on top of it or underneath’, meaning that we will either succeed gloriously or fail spectacularly but we need to give it everything we’ve got because the time is now.
The cruelty and mystery of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:1 cannot be understated. Embedded among cultic taboos circumscribing forbidden intimate relations in Parashat Acharei Mot, and juxtaposed with verses exhorting ethical conduct in K’doshim, stands the prohibition against ‘offering up offspring to Molekh’.
It is hard to think in exponential increases, in orders of magnitude, in terms of emergency declarations and social distancing. This is the stuff of dystopian near-future sci-fi and we seem to have landed in the middle of it.
Parashat Mishpatim is a perfect storm. Opening the book of Exodus during volatile political times is an exercise in confirmation bias in the best of cases, but Mishpatim speaks to our current reality – in an election year, no less – in uncanny ways.