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    Another approach to stealing – Va’et’channan

    Two great passages form the core of the portion this week – the first paragraph of the Shema, and the second version of the Ten Commandments.

    I have to presume that everyone is well aware of the text of the first version of the Commandments, and those who have compared the two versions will know at least some of the best-known interpretations of the differences in wording.

    What may not be so well known, however, is the tradition of Chassidic commentary which applies to either or both version. For instance, “Thou shalt not steal”.

    The Chassidim say, “Don’t even steal what a person thinks is their due. If someone believes they are entitled to a particular honour, don’t take it away from them.”

    This approach can be extended to become a general principle of dealing with other people. They may be wrong in their opinions, but don’t humiliate them or take away their dignity.

    They may be tiresome in the way they use words – and often people need too many words to say something relatively simple – but try to speak to them in the idiom with which they are comfortable.

    They may be reluctant to concede that your view is right, but you will probably not convince them unless you find a way to show them that another (your) policy would be in their own best interests.

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