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9/10 September: Parsha Shoftim

Shabbat comes in at 7.15 pm; goes out at 8.15 pm                        _____________________________________________________                

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Moses doesn’t have long to live.   So he summarizes the history of the forty years of wandering, and he reminds the people Israel of their legal obligations.  Over the next few weeks we will read countless laws.  Perhaps what is most prominent in this week’s portion is a deep concern to eliminate poverty.

“If there is among you a poor man of one of your brothers inside any of your gates in your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your poor brother.”  (Deuteronomy 15:7)

There are two important messages that grow out of this portion about poverty.  The first message is that we have an obligation to lift people out of poverty.  For example, the book of Exodus speaks of freeing a Hebrew servant after six years.  But this week’s portion goes even further in its treatment of such a Hebrew servant.  When setting him free one must give him what he needs financially to establish himself.

The Torah wants to avoid what happened in the old American south, where freed slaves became sharecroppers and lived in abject poverty.  This poverty continue to our days.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul Arberman

September 8, 2016