Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Human Rights Is An Halachic Imperative!

As a Halachically Observant (I do hope that you will excuse my not using titles that have become far too politicized and distant from the original intentions of their ideologues who created them) Jew, I am convinced that we are COMMANDED to be concerned about each other on the widest scale. Yet probably the biggest and most frustrating topic that is constantly discussed within our family and amongst closest friends is that somehow the most observant sectors of our Jewish world seem to have bypassed this important core element of our being.

I have often learned and taught the following idea from the text of Sotah 14a (and probably have quoted it more than once during the lifetime of this blog, so please do excuse me for any further repetition). The question is posed how does one walk with G-d for we learn that no one can see and actually physically WALK with G-d so to speak. The Gemara teaches that we walk with G-d through doing the deeds of G-d. As G-d clothed Adam and Eve in Gan Eden, so we provide clothes for those in need. As G-d visited Avraham when he was ill and recovering after circumcising himself, so we perform the Mitzvah of visiting the sick. As G-d comforted Yitzchak after the death of his mother and father, we too comfort those who mourn loss. As G-d buried Moshe Rabbeinu after his death, we too perform the deed of burying our dead.

Here, in this text, as in so many others, G-d is RACHMANA, the Compassionate One. I have always found it interesting that there is nothing here about the commanded actions one generally associates with being G-d fearing and obedient to the Creator of the World, but rather those deeds that make the path that others follow in our world easier and more reasonable.

This notion is all over our Jewish teachings and yet, I continue to be astonished and so very pained as to why it is all but absent TOO OFTEN when we think about what it means to be a truly devout and observing Jew. In the very beginning of Masechet Berachot (the Tractate of Gemara I am now learning) we read how the times for when one says the Shema use various markers depending on an individual person’s reality. Remembering that this is all occurring BDT (Before Digital Time), people marked time by light and dark or the transition between them. In the absence of clocks and such, how did people know when they could say the Shema of the evening or of the morning.? The Priest’s time was the preparation of his eating of Terumah, the poor person’s time marker was when he would come in after a too long day of work to eat his meager meal. The regular person would use the time of Kiddush on Shabbat as his marker and the rich king’s son would be able to say his Shema even upon rising late. There are lengthy discussions about HOW late one can say the Shema and still fulfill the Mitzvah.

Sound familiar? Again, EVERYONE GETS TO FULFILL THE MITZVAH according to his or her ability and situation. What a concept! So, this is clearly embedded in all we do as Jews, how we pray, how we celebrate as indicated in the last posts, and in HOW WE ACT AND RELATE TO EACH OTHER. It is imperative for all to remember that those Mitzvot that dictate our relationships with each other COME FROM G-D and are clearly our Halachic imperative!

No comments:

Post a Comment