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    The Age of Shame – Mishpatim

    Early on, the sidra speaks about slaves: “When you purchase a Hebrew slave, he shall go out free after six years” (Ex. 21:2).

    The commentator Abraham Ibn Ezra says, “This law is stated at the beginning of the portion because there is nothing more evil than that a person should be made subservient to another human being”.

    Even Ibn Ezra himself probably didn’t realise how brilliant his comment was. History is full of examples of people who made pawns out of others.

    The decades through which our own generation has lived have witnessed an avalanche of oppression.

    Dictators and demagogues, tyrants and totalitarians – dozens of them – have denied human rights and dignity to others. They had two principles: “God isn’t God – I am!” and “You aren’t worthy of respect – if I kill you, I have done the world a favour!”

    Someone coined the phrase “ethnic cleansing” to describe this philosophy, though the brutality and inhumanity of such actions are an insult to the term philosophy.

    What was the result? Where some periods of history became known as the Iron Age, the Modern Age, the Industrial Age, ours has become the Age of Shame.

    Those responsible have brought shame upon the human race. They themselves can never survive.

    The Scriptures rightly say (Prov. 26:27, Kohelet 10:8) that people who dig a pit for others end up falling into it themselves.

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