More Laws for a Holy People

Aug 23, 2015

It is forbidden to take advantage of the weakest segments of society. Likewise, a worker’s wages must be paid on time.

 

Fathers and sons may not be held accountable for each other’s actions.

 

You may not pervert the justice of the convert or the orphan, nor may you take the garment of a widow as security, because you were once a slave in Egypt and God has redeemed you.

 

During the harvest, you must leave behind any forgotten bundles of grain for the underprivileged and, likewise, must leave them some of your olive and grape crops. Again, this is because you were once a slave in Egypt.

 

The Israel Bible notes that in describing the process of removing the fruit from the olive tree, the verse says “when you beat your olive tree,” as olive trees were harvested by beating the branches with a stick, causing the olives to fall to the ground. According to the Sages, this hints to the blessing of abundance in the Land of Israel. There will be so much produce that the farmers will only need to harvest what falls off with the beating of the tree branches; they will not need to bother to climb a ladder in order to reach what was left at the top.  What remains on the tree is left for the poor and needy.

 

In the event of a court case where the judgment is lashes, the maximum punishment is forty stripes.

 

When threshing with an ox, the animal may not be muzzled.

 

If a married man dies childless, his brother who dwells with him must marry his widow and produce an heir on his behalf. If he refuses, the widow must bring him before the court to perform the ceremony of release: the widow takes his shoe and spits before him, proclaiming, “So is done to the man who will not build the house of his brother.”

 

If two men are fighting, and the wife of one grabs the other’s manhood during the altercation, her hand must be cut off.

 

One must keep honest weights and measures.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Here the Torah tells us that fathers and sons may not be punished for each other’s actions. Yet in Exodus 34:7, God says He “will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and unto the fourth generation.” How do you think these statements can be reconciled?

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