The Value of Labor
Posted on August 31, 2017
A question: what are the most important laws?
Our weekly portion of Ki Teitzei in Deuteronomy obligates us to ask this question, for it is filled with an array of laws and ordinances affecting every aspect of life, 72 in all. They range from rules limiting unorthodox ritual practice to rules limiting conduct in wartime, from personal morality to behavior in society. Family laws are established concerning marriage, inheritance, and divorce. Tort laws on damages are instituted, providing moral and financial responsibility for property owners. Laws of kindness decree human decency in every area of life.
Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk On Ki Teitzei 5777
Justice Behind It All
Posted on August 24, 2017
This week’s portion, from Deuteronomy, is called Shoftim, judges. It establishes a process for the administration of justice, and includes one of the most powerful statements in all religious, philosophical, or ethical tradition: tzedek, tzedek, tirdof, Justice, justice you shall pursue.
In the Torah, which has no kefel lashon, no extra words, a repetition of a word means that it has additional importance and power. Here, the word for justice, tzedek is repeated, emphasizing that justice is extraordinarily significant. We must be not only fair in life but truly just.
Even more than that, the Torah teaches that we must not only be just, but tirdof, pursue justice, chase after it, make it a goal for our own lives and our civilization. It’s not enough to act well in a place where justice is not the norm; we must strive to change an unjust situation into a just one.
Tzedek, tzedek tirdof—each of us must pursue true justice.
Read more: Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Weekly Torah Talk On Shoftim 5777