By Joy Scott, Am Haskalah Congregant This week’s Torah Parsha (BO) continues with the story of Exodus. God had already inflicted seven devastating plagues on Egypt, subsequent to the Pharaoh’s...
The Parsha, DEVARIM is comprised primarily of a complete repetition of the Torah, spoken by Moses to the Israelites, in the last days before his passing. In fact, the translation of the Hebrew word ‘DEVARIM’ is ‘re-telling’. It is somewhat extraordinary that throughout Moses’ recalling of each event, each commandment, each transgression, and each miracle performed by G-D, he also includes names of people, places, and delinquent acts….which do not appear anywhere else in the Torah. Moses did not explicitly state that the Jews had sinned; he merely provides hints and clues to a variety of wrongful acts.
Modern Rabbinical scholars and sages from long ago, are fairly consistent in their belief that the motivation for Moses’ cryptic rebukes was so that no individual would feel dishonored or disgraced before his fellow man. A true leader is both sensitive and able to empathize with his followers. ‘Human Nature’ suggests that this well-thought out plan to admonish someone, anonymously , almost guarantees that the wrongful act will not be repeated.
In Moses’ closing address, he turned to a subject which is dominant in this parsha: ‘Justice’. ‘Tzdek’ (i.e. justice) is a key word in the book of DEVARIM. …..most famously in the following verse: “Justice, justice you shall pursue, so that you may thrive and occupy the land that the Lord, your G-D is giving you”. The distribution of the word ‘tzedek’ is prominent in the fifth book of Moses (i.e. Deuteronomy), mentioned eighteen times. The Hebrew word ‘tzedek’ is almost impossible to translate, because of the many shades of its meaning (e.g. justice, charity, righteousness, integrity, fairness, etc.).
The ‘Midrash’ believe that irrespective of the literal translation, ‘justice’, in any aspect is central to Judaism. Law as envisaged by the Torah makes no distinction between rich and poor; powerful or powerless.
“Fear no one, for judgment belongs to G-D; it must never be compromised – -by fear, bribery, or favoritism. It is an inalienable right”.