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28/29 AUG: PARSHA KI TETZE

Shabbat comes in at 7.42 pm; goes out  at 8.43 pm
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Parsha Ki Tetze is one of my favourites in the Torah.  The laws and categories may seem outdated but the idea is clear,  we are required to limit anger, vengeance and cruelty and we should emphasise increasing kindness in the world.
Consideration for others included how we administered justice ; corporal punishment, for example, was not to exceed forty strokes, while the corpse of a criminal was to be buried the same day and not left hanging from a tree overnight as a deterrent to others.  Forty strokes of a whip already seems like a lot to me, but remember this was limiting the amount of punishment, whereas in other cultures it was not limited.
Mercy was to be shown to the foreign slave who, having escaped, sought refuge among the Israelites, and a helping hand was to be given to one’s neighbour who had lost property.
Loans to fellow Israelites were to be made without interest, and while pledges were permitted, certain objects were unacceptable (such as clothes or working tools) since their loss would cause severe hardship to the debtor.
The stranger, the orphan and the widow were to be provided with relief and protection and were to be allowed to collect the remains of the harvest from the fields.  Nor was the workman to be kept waiting for his wages.
Animals were to be afforded kindness:  A mother bird was not to be taken from her nest, nor animals of unequal strength be yoked together.
Corporal punishment and slavery are not the most current of issues, although poverty, human rights and animal rights issues are still very real in our society.  Remember that the Torah is moving us in the direction of compassion for all living creatures.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Paul Arberman
August 26, 2015