Rabbi Howard Cohen for Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
In the middle of Parshat Behar we read about our obligations towards our fellow Jews when they are reduced to poverty. The Torah uses the term "Collapsed" or "Clowered" (mem, vav, chaf). It also describes the person as having lost the means to deal with his obligations (u-matah yado Cimmakh). When this happens we are not supposed to protect the person from experiencing the logical consequences of poverty, nor are we to force him out of the community. In fact, we have an obligation to maintain this person within the community. In later text, Mishnah, Talmud, and Mishnah Torah, for example, it is explained in greater detail what it means specifically to "let him live by your side" (Leviticus 25:35).
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