1 These are the rules that you shall set before them:
v’-AY-leh ha-mish-pa-TEEM a-SHER ta-SEEM lif-nay-HEM
א וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים לִפְנֵיהֶם׃
21:1 These are the rules
Following the giving of the Ten Commandments, the Torah discusses numerous civil laws dealing with honest and ethical business practices and interpersonal relationships. These laws precede the dictates regulating our relationship with Hashem, teaching us that religion demands not just belief, but ethical conduct as well. In fact, there is an oft-quoted adage, “derech eretz kadma laTorah” (דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה), which means that ‘ethics precedes Torah.’ Decency and common courtesy serve as the foundation for keeping the rest of the Torah’s commandments.