Shabbat Ki Teytzey

Candles Friday 28th 7:15pm
Havdalah 29th 8:08pm

This weeks reading continues the recapitulation of the biblical laws first given in Exodus. But whereas last week’s dealt mainly with government and social affairs, this week we deal mainly with personal morality. How the individual should behave rather than the state.

The most important underlying themes are that there are consequences! If you marry for the wrong reason you produce unhappy families. Unhappy families produce unhappy kids. People who are badly brought up are more likely to commit crimes. And the Torah goes in to list the sorts of crimes it feels strongly about. Treating parents, women, workers, the poor and animals cruelly, violently or harshly. And yet the famous principle this week is that “fathers do not die for sons, sons do not die for fathers, a person dies for his own crimes” (27.16).

I wonder if there isn’t an interesting lesson. Some people are givers, charitable, caring for the welfare of others. But some are takers, only seeking gratification for themselves. When it says in Exodus that “the bad actions of fathers are visited onto the next generation” it doesn't mean punishment. But it does mean that there are consequences. I wonder if it all has anything to with family values! And yet I know so many cases where the sons behave so much better than their fathers. We have the freedom to make better choices.