Torah Talks

The Teshuvah of Creating a Just Society

on Thursday, 07 September 2017. Posted in Torah Talks

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Torah Talk On Ki Tavo 5777

Our portion this week, Ki Tavo, gives us powerful commandments about how to live in society.  We are commanded to protect the rights of the impoverished, the widow, the immigrant, and the stranger among us.  We are to be honest in business, careful of the needs of the hungry and the homeless.  We are to create a society of ethical practice and moral concern.  We are to understand that a nation is judged by how it treats its weakest members.  We are told repeatedly that God knows and expects us to live to this covenant, uphold it, cherish it, make it our own.  And we are told of the blessings that will be ours if we can do this, and the curses we will bring on ourselves if we cannot.

The Value of Labor

on Thursday, 31 August 2017. Posted in Torah Talks

Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon’s Torah Talk On Ki Teitzei 5777

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.

Lots and lots of laws, laws, laws, some obscure, some famous.  In short, Ki Teitzei is a bit dry.  There is a reason lawbooks never make the New York Times bestseller list…  And much of the legislation is outdated, while other sections are completely irrelevant. 

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