We are told that Pharaoh was punished harshly for enslaving the Israelites. But why does the Torah sanction slavery? And how am I supposed to respect the weaker strata of society — such as the converts, the sojourners, the widows and orphans — if I allow myself to enslave another human being and treat him as my property?
The ancient Romans were known for their wild and weird rituals, but one of them, recorded in the Talmud (Avodah Zarah 11b), is of special interest to us. It is said that once every 70 years, Romans would have a healthy man, wearing the legendary garments of Adam, ride on the back of a limping man, who wore the mask of a Jew as he walked through the streets of Rome. At the head of the parade an announcer would repeatedly say: “Our master’s brother is a forger. Whomever sees this parade let him enjoy, because there will not be another for 70 more years. Forgery has not benefited the forger nor deceit benefited the deceiver!”
“Of the blue, purple and crimson yarns they also made the service vestments for officiating in the sanctuary … they hammered out sheets of gold and cut threads to
be worked into design among the blue, the purple and the crimson yarns and the fine linen.” (Exodus 39:1-3).
The Exodus was made possible because of the merits of the righteous women, say our sages. Some interpret this statement as a patronizing approach to women in the spirit of the famous dictum: Behind every great man there is a great woman. But this relegates women to the sidelines and renders them nothing more than hidden tools, helping pave the way for their husband’s success.
You are driving, looking for an address, when your wife tells you to ask someone. You refuse, but you finally make it to your destination — two hours late. Are you familiar with this scenario?
Parshat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)
Parshat Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3) Men equate the inability to solve a problem with weakness, so when men are in the same situation they feel that they must solve the problem.
Parshat Ki Teitze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) Wouldn\’t it be better to ban the practice of capturing women for marriage and to find a way to settle the differences of the rebellious son and his parents without using the electric chair?
Parshat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) Moses could have stayed in the palace and enjoyed royal privileges, but he chose to commiserate with his brothers and, indeed, tried to save one of them by killing the Egyptian taskmaster.