“If your brother becomes poor and his means falter in your presence – hold him up.”
~ Leviticus 25:35
Most people will experience financial difficulties at some point in life. Therefore, Judaism encourages that we support one another
But why hold them up when you can just give them money?
This is a lesson in foresight. Don’t wait for people to actually fall into extreme poverty, rather strengthen them already from the moment their fortune turns for the worst.
It takes less energy and resources to support someone slipping, than it does to pick them up after they’ve fallen.
“Moses spoke [the priestly laws] to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.”
~ Leviticus 21:24
Although Judaism considers everyone equally holy, our spiritual-leaders – the priests – are directed to live an especially spiritual life.
But why teach priest-specific laws to everybody, when they’re not relevant for most?
In order to make everybody responsible for ensuring that the priests follow them correctly.
In the same way leaders must hold themselves accountable in their roles, the people must hold their leaders accountable.
Just as you wouldn’t drink and drive yourself, don’t allow the bus-driver to drive drunk either.
“Be in awe of your mother and your father.”
~ Leviticus 19:14
More than a nicety, respecting parents is an essential Jewish value.
But why’s the sequence of parents reversed from the famous verse in the Ten Commandments:
“Honor your father and your mother”
Typically, fathers are domineering and mothers affectionate, so children naturally fear dad and honour mom. To really respect them, we need to put our efforts where we’re naturally weak: revere your affectionate mother and honour your domineering father.
If not, we’re just doing what’s natural, not what’s right.
“Any man…who slaughters an ox, sheep or goat…but didn’t bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, as means to get closer to God – it will be considered as bloodshed.”
~ Leviticus 17:3-4
When animal-sacrifice was permitted, it was only within the Temple sanctuary.
In an astonishingly ‘green’ reaction, Judaism considers one who violates this law as if they’d murdered a human. Why?
Because from plankton to whales and ants to elephants, all creatures and all things have a purpose in creation. Ultimately, their function serves us in our spiritual mission to perfect the world.
However, we’re only permitted to use them within that specific context. As such, anything else is simply destructive.