- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 24, 2019
- 0 Comments
Women have been wronged.
Children have been wronged as well.
That means that everyone not in the above two categories have also been aggrieved.
No one is left untouched in the destructive legislation concerning abortions—especially, of course, women’s bodies, which have been viewed as the property of government.
This week’s Torah portion, Behar, has something to say about property and the potential dehumanizing behavior of one person to another.
Leviticus 25, the sole chapter of the portion, details an idea of the jubilee year, a counting toward a 50th year when “each of you shall return to his holding.” (vs 13) Let’s remember that each Israelite tribe (except the Levites) received an assignment of a section of the land. The intention of the Jubilee year brought back the land to the original owner. Though it was most likely not enacted once the Israelites arrived to Canaan, the awareness of how one could treat or mistreat another regarding property was at the forefront of their consciousness.
When you sell property to your neighbor, or buy any from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another…Do not wrong one another, but fear your God; for I the Eternal am your God. (Lev. 25:14, 17)
Repeated words and phrases summon our attention. The Hebrew word for wrong means suppress, oppress, maltreat. In the context of the Torah, we might conclude that the idea of wronging would be limited to real estate transactions. The Talmud expanded the idea to include all commercial transactions while the Midrash made it about harmful words. “Suppress, oppress, and maltreat” applies to much more.
Today, we consider the specific command “not to wrong another” in light of legislation in Alabama, Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere that has robbed women and those who love them of their own agency and pre-emptively, in some states, indicted them as potential murderers. Although these heinous behaviors of lawmakers reflect a sinister strategy to get to the Supreme Court, they have trampled human dignity and decency on the way.
Our Torah portion recognizes that human beings have the capacity to engage in unjust behaviors. We can be selfish, manipulative, and try to get the best for ourselves while wronging another. Our news feeds provides examples all the time.
If the rules and laws apply to property, then how much more does it apply to human beings?
Women’s bodies aren’t properties to be legislated. If those who govern truly care about heartbeats, then let them listen to the hearts of children living in abject poverty or their parents unable to support them. Let them put their ears to the chests of those murdered by gun violence while they take in the cries of a mother or father weeping.
No woman enthusiastically approaches the possibility of an abortion. Our government suppresses, oppresses, and maltreats women if it assumes it can control a woman’s body as if it is mere property.
Do not wrong another with words, with unfair practices, with egregious intention. Trust women to make their own decisions. Make it right and fair for women, for children, for everyone, too. Isn’t that the kind of world in which we hope and pray surrounds us all?
Please join together for Qabbalat Shabbat tonight at 6:00 p.m. If you are unable to join us, please live stream HERE.
Join the Membership & Engagement Committee for an All-Community Shabbat Dinner following Qabbalat Shabbat tonight. All are welcome to attend, please contact Dekel Luban for more information.
Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow with a short service, Torah reading, and a lively discussion.
Please connect with me directly HERE.