Holiness, Righteousness and Justice

Feb 8, 2015

מְכַשֵּׁפָה לֹא תְחַיֶּה׃

You shall not tolerate a sorceress.

Exodus 22:17

וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־אָמַרְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם תִּשָּׁמֵרוּ וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל־פִּיךָ׃

Be on guard concerning all that I have told you. Make no mention of the names of other gods; they shall not be heard on your lips.

Exodus 23:13

Following the laws of damages above, the Torah continues with a series of laws which promote holiness, righteousness and justice in the community. These include eliminating abominations such as idolatry and sexual immorality, treating the unfortunate with care and respect, and preserving the integrity of the judicial system.


Included in this section is an overview of the laws of the Sabbath and the Sabbatical year as they protect the poor and underprivileged. Just as we rest on the seventh day of the week to commemorate God resting on the seventh day of creation, so too we are commanded to let the land rest once every seven years. This law, in practice today, requires that we refrain from planting, plowing or harvesting for a full year. The produce which grows on its own during this time may be eaten, and is considered holy. The Israel Bible points out that both the Sabbath and Sabbatical year have a similar message: just as the Sabbath teaches us that the world and everything in it belong to God, so the Sabbatical year teaches that God is the source of our economic success. The Hebrew year 5775, which roughly coincides with 2015, is a Sabbatical year.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Exodus 23:4-5 commands one to return one’s enemy’s lost animal and unburden his suffering animal. Do you think this applies even to one’s enemy, or particularly to one’s enemy? What is the difference? What is this law trying to teach us?



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