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Good Morning.

In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. (Leviticus 25:13-14)

In Rabbinical thinking, the laws of the Jubilee imply certain things about those who had lost their inheritance. Specifically, they believe the sin of greed often — but not always — played a role in why someone ended up in a situation whereby they lost their inheritance. Greed compelled the person to “oppress another” which resulted in the loss of God’s blessing. The loss of blessing led to the loss of his money thus forcing him to sell his property including his house and his land. If that person remained unrepentant, he might have to sell himself into the service of another Israelite or gentile. The last scenario might even land him in a situation where he became a servant to idols.

There are many reasons why people end up in poverty, and sometimes it is no fault of their own. But whether the situation was of their own making or not, the Scripture instructs God’s people to be compassionate and merciful — attributes demonstrated in the laws of the Jubilee. If we encounter someone who is in a weakened state, financially speaking, we must be careful not to exploit their weakness or take advantage of it. To the contrary, we should always strive to help our brother whenever possible, and in Jewish thought, the highest form of charity is to help someone make a living in an honorable way.

Put simply, implied in the laws of Jubilee is the duty to help our brother avoid the loss of their property so that they are never in a position to seek charity. It’s like the old saying: rather than just giving them a fish to eat, teach them how to fish for themselves. Obviously, it isn’t possible to help everyone and sometimes those we do encounter are beyond any help we might could give them. In other words, with some, things are so far gone that only God can help — a scenario demonstrated by the Jubilee. Still, He most often works through His people. The point is, then, don’t be quick to judge those who have fallen on hard times but be compassionate and, when possible, lend a helping hand and not just a hand out. Is that not what our Creator does for us every day?

Blessings and Shalom,  




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