Shoftim 5780-2020

"Security for Citizens and Caring for Guests”
(updated and revised from parashat Shoftim 5761-2001)

In parashat Shoftim, we encounter the ritual of Eglah Arufah, the ceremony in which a heifer is put to death. The ritual of Eglah Arufah, underscores that both city officials and hosts, have a responsibility of escorting visitors, to make certain that they can travel safely and securely from one city to another. Those who fail to provide security are held morally responsible. It applies to those who welcome visitors into their homes today as well.

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Mishpatim 5772-2012

"Capital Punishment: Revenge or Restitution?"

In parashat Mishpatim, the Torah introduces the concept of capital punishment. Is the execution of a murderer an act of vengeance, or is it intended to serve as restitution for the loss of human life?

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Emor 5769-2009

"The Highest Mitzvah of All!"

In parashat Emor, our sages derive from the laws governing the prohibition of the priest from defiling himself to the dead, the special commandment of "Met Mitzvah," the requirement to bury an abandoned body for which there is no one else to care. It is considered by many to be the foremost mitzvah, over which no other mitzvah takes precedence.

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Chukat-Balak 5762-2002

"The Paradox of the Red Heifer"

In the first of this week's two parashiot, parashat Chukat, we read of the paradox of the Red Heifer whose ashes were used to purify those who were ritually contaminated. The Red Heifer rendered those who were impure, pure, and those that were pure, impure. Perhaps it is teaching us that there is a significant price to pay for trying to improve others. But, we must be prepared to pay that price. It is, after all, the only way to achieve ultimate perfection.

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