Parashat Mishpatim: Midrash

Midrash מִדְרָשׁ

How do your past experiences affect your actions?

וְגֵר לֹא תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ
כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃
You shall not do wrong to a ger (stranger) or oppress them,
for you were gerim (strangers) in the land of Mitzrayim (Egypt).
A midrash explains why the Torah says we should be kind to gerim because we were gerim ourselves.
רַבִּי נָתָן אוֹמֵר, מוּם שֶׁבְּךָ אַל תֹּאמַר לַחֲבֵרְךָ.
(Based on this pasuk) R. Natan would say: When you have a fault, don't point it out in your friend.
Although we might not think of being a ger as a “fault,” or a bad thing, R. Natan learns from this pasuk that we must use our past to be more sensitive to others. In this case, we can understand what it means to be a ger in a foreign land, and so we must be helpful to others who are in that situation.
  • What does it feel like when you see others struggling with the challenges that are also hard for you?
  • When you get frustrated with other people, are you able to have compassion by seeing that you have faults too?
  • What are ways you can use your own personal history or your family history to help people in situations that are similar to your own?