Shabbat Ki Tetzeh, 28-29 August 2015/ 14 Ellul 5775
Shabbat commences 19:45 ( earliest lighting18:34)
Shabbat evening service 19:00 followed by Oneg Shabbat.
Shabbat concludes tomorrow ends 20:49
In our dealings in life we are often put into dubious situations. We are often tempted to do things or to take things which may not belong to us. Indeed the Rabbis recognize this – in the text which we are currently studying on Tuesdays, it is assumed that an uneducated person may will rationalize the appropriation of something which they do not own, and the Rabbis therefore make him scared to do so by administering an oath.
This week’s Torah portion teaches us to be honest. We have to return lost property to a person when we find it. We must keep our promises, and maintain our obligations to our employees properly – particularly with regard to paying them on time and in full. We must not pervert justice merely out of feeling for a person’s plight. The whole stress of the parsha is on justice.
This is perhaps the greatest gift which Judaism has given to the world. The concept of justice and morality being hand-in-hand is a vital aspect of the rule of law. Things should be as they seem, openly and honestly. When people cover up reality and dress it up to suit their own interpretation, it causes pain and suffering to many others. The Rabbis teach us to be straightforward in our business dealings and in our relations with others. Even in the case of a captured woman, she is to be married for her own sake and not for the lust engendered in her captor (this was of course before the Geneva Convention!) and within the limits of the rules of war as practiced 3,000 years ago she was to be given dignity even in her sad situation.
In the run-up to Rosh Hashanah, when we examine ourselves and our own behaviour in the world, this parsha teaches us to look at our daily lives as much as our religious duties, to see whether we measure up to the high standards expected of us.
This week’s article by Jeremy Rosen on refugees is available from