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    Freedom to dwell – B’har

    “Proclaim liberty in all the land” is a keynote of this week’s reading.

    The word used for “liberty” is not cherut but d’ror. In the Talmud (RH 9b) Rabbi Yehudah links it with the word for “dwell” and says the criterion of liberty is the ability to dwell where you want and to work or carry on business wherever you wish.

    It all sounds beautiful but it has its grave dilemmas.

    What if they don’t want you in the place you choose? Can you force your way in, regardless of the immigration and employment rules?

    The problem has become acute in our day, with all the population movements that many countries, especially in Europe, seem powerless to control.

    The Torah can’t be giving carte blanche to just anyone to settle just anywhere in spite of the feelings of the local inhabitants.

    But the locals have to act ethically. If they close their borders and control their structures they have to have genuine reasons for their policies.

    The land belongs to God and those who live there have to meet His standards.

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