The musings of a previously unemployed Jewish Freemason. I write about the job search, about Judaism, and about Freemasonry.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Behar: Thou Shalt Relieve Him

This Torah portion is BeHar, or "On the Mountain", because it begins with words God speaks to Moses on Mount Sinai. To the Jews, this means that these commandments are part of the Revelation, and are thus as sacred as the Ten Commandments.

God commands the Israelites to look after their fallen brethren: "And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee." [Leviticus 25: 35]. A Mason understands how a man can be his brother and yet be a stranger, as we profess to be linked together by an indissoluble chain of sincere affection. On this basis we form our friendships and establish our connections.

In the Midrash for this passage, Rabbi Pinchas, in the name of Rabbi Reuven, said: "Whoever gives a single coin to a poor person, the Holy One, Blessed be He will give that person life. For indeed, is he really giving only a single coin? No, he gives the poor person life! How can we explain this? If a loaf of bread costs 10 coins and a poor person standing in the marketplace has only nine, then if someone comes and gives a single coin so that he is able to buy a loaf of bread and, having eaten it, feels refreshed, the Holy One, Blessed be He, says to the donor, 'In your case too, when your soul presses to break loose from your body, I shall return it to you."

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