Torah Reading for Mincha – Yom Kippur
...כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֧ה אֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֛יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֶֽרֶץ־כְּנַ֡עַן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶתְכֶ֥ם שָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵֽכוּ
(18:3) Do not follow the ways of Egypt from where you came and do not act like the inhabitants of Canaan, the land that I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes….I, God, am your God.
The Torah warns us, as the Israelites are making their way through the desert on their way to Canaan, that the social behavior of the Egyptians and those of the Canaanites should not be imitated. Local or national social behavior patterns, “Walking in their statutes”, are regulated by legislation. Private conduct, however, is governed not so much by law as by norms that custom have sanctified.
We are, indeed, living in unusual times and who knows if – let alone –when they will end. A mayor or governor may set guidelines for his/her particular city or state. While these guidelines may be clear and authoritative, the group’s social behavior can only be sustained if the individuals in that area follow the guidelines. Today, with Corona/Covid-19, it is important that all, despite the difficulties, wear masks. It is important that all, despite the difficulties, social distance.
וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהוָֽה׃
(18:5) Keep My statutes and My social ordinances which man must carry out and through which he gains life; I am the Lord.
The gain to be derived from observing these laws is nothing more and nothing less than
חי - - LIFE.
The Book of Deuteronomy tells us that nothing is more important than life. Our sages, especially Moses Maimonides (Rambam), the Spanish 12th century rabbi, philosopher and physician confirms that in his writings.
Let us pray that we will be wise enough to follow the guidelines set by today’s professional medical advisors and who, like the Torah, tell us that life is supreme to all.
May we all be signed and sealed in the Book of Life.