(16) The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off. (17) Now the Eternal had said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, (18) since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him? (19) For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Eternal by doing what is just and right, in order that the Eternal may bring about for Abraham what God has promised him.”
(20) Then the Eternal said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (21) I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (22) The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Eternal.
(23) Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? (24) What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? (25) Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
(26) And the Eternal answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” (27) Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: (28) What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” And God answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” (29) But he spoke to God again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” And God answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” (30) And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: What if thirty should be found there?” And God answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” (31) And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: What if twenty should be found there?” And God answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” (32) And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?” And God answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.”
33) When the Eternal had finished speaking to Abraham, he departed; and Abraham returned to his place.
Do you think God wants Abraham to argue? Why or why not?
Do you think that there really exists such as place as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah? Why or why not?
What are we to understand from the fact that Abraham asks God, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
Why does Abraham "bargain God down"? What might we learn from this?
Why does Abraham stop at ten? What do you think would have happened if he had bargained down to one?
(18) You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that the Eternal your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice. (19) You shall not judge unfairly: you shall show no partiality; you shall not take bribes, for bribes blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just. (20) Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and inherit the land that the Eternal your God is giving you.
Why do you think we "pursue" justice instead of simply establish it?
How is justice like water?
אמר הואיל והוו יתבי רבנן ולא מחו ביה ש"מ קא ניחא להו
After having been cast out from the feast, bar Kamtza said to himself: Since the Sages were sitting there and did not protest the actions of the host, although they saw how he humiliated me, learn from it that they were content with what he did.
In this story, a man named Bar Kamtza is humiliated in public. The Rabbis watched and said nothing. Bar Kamtza then joined the Roman side of the war. From this we learn that silence implies consent or agreement and not for good. How is silence on an issue interpreted today?
(8) “God has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what the Eternal requires of you: only to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah distills Jewish ethics into three central values: justice, kindness, and walking humbly before God. What are your central values?
Rava bar Rav Ḥanan said to Abaye, and some say to Rav Yosef: What is the law in this dispute? He said to him: Go out and observe what the people are doing.
In disabilities inclusion, there is a phrase, "Nothing about us without us." That, before presuming what someone needs or what is best, we should listen to them! People need to be included in the process. Usually, the people most affected are the most qualified to respond. In this text, how do the sages decide what Jewish law should be? Why?
(א) וְאֵלֶּה. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב, אַתָּה כּוֹנַנְתָּ מֵישָׁרִים, מִשְׁפָּט וּצְדָקָה בְּיַעֲקֹב אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ (תהלים צט, ד). כָּל הָעֹז וְהַשֶּׁבַח וְהַגְּדֻלָּה וְהַגְּבוּרָה שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, הוּא מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב. בְּנֹהַג שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם, מִי שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל זְרוֹעַ אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת דְּבָרָיו בְּמִשְׁפָּט, אֶלָּא מַעֲבִיר עַל הַמִּשְׁפָּט, חוֹמֵס וְגוֹזֵל, וּמַעֲבִיר עַל דַּעַת קוֹנוֹ, וְנוֹשֵׂא פָּנִים לִפְנֵי אוֹהֲבָיו וּקְרוֹבָיו, וְעוֹשֶׂה שֶׁלֹּא כַּדִּין לְשׂוֹנְאָיו. אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְּלָכִים, מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב, אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה דְּבָרָיו אֶלָּא בְּמִשְׁפָּט. הֱוֵי, וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב.
(1) Now these are the judgments (Exod. 21:1). Scripture states (elsewhere in reference to this verse): The strength also of the king who loves justice. You have established equity and righteousness in Jacob (Ps. 99:4). (That is to say,) all strength, praise, greatness, and might belong to the King of Kings, who loves justice. Normally a powerful man is not concerned about executing his decisions in accordance with the demands of justice. In fact, he ignores justice and commits acts of violence and theft. He disregards the attitude of His Creator, favors his friends and his relatives, and acts unjustly toward his enemies. But the Holy One, blessed be He, loves justice, and executes his decrees only justly. Hence it says: The strength also of the King who loves justice.
(א) וְאֵלֶּה הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: מֶלֶךְ בְּמִשְׁפָּט יַעֲמִיד אֶרֶץ, וְאִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת יֶהֶרְסֶנָּה (משלי כט, ד). מַלְכָּהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, בְּמִשְׁפָּט שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה, מַעֲמִיד אֶת הָאָרֶץ. וְאִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת יֶהֶרְסֶנָּה. אִם מֵשִׁים אָדָם עַצְמוֹ כַּתְּרוּמָה הַזּוֹ שֶׁמֻּשְׁלֶכֶת בְּזָוִית הַבַּית וְאוֹמֵר מַה לִּי בְּטֹרַח הַצִּבּוּר, מַה לִּי בְּדִינֵיהֶם, מַה לִּי לִשְׁמֹעַ קוֹלָם, שָׁלוֹם עָלַיִךְ נַפְשִׁי, הֲרֵי זֶה מַחֲרִיב אֶת הָעוֹלָם. הֱוֵי וְאִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת יֶהֶרְסֶנָּה.
(ב) מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי אַסִּי, כְּשֶׁהָיָה מִסְתַּלֵּק מִן הָעוֹלָם, נִכְנַס בֶּן אֲחוֹתוֹ אֶצְלוֹ, מְצָאוֹ בּוֹכֶה. אָמַר לוֹ: רַבִּי, מִפְּנֵי מָה אַתָּה בּוֹכֶה? יֵשׁ תּוֹרָה שֶׁלֹּא לָמַדְתָּ וְלִמַּדְתָּ, הֲרֵי תַּלְמִידֶיךָ יוֹשְׁבִים לְפָנֶיךָ. יֵשׁ גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים שֶׁלֹּא עָשִׂיתָ. וְעַל כָּל מִדּוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ בְּךָ, הָיִיתָ מִתְרַחֵק מִן הַדַּיָּנִין, וְלֹא נָתַתָּ רְשׁוּת עַל עַצְמְךָ לְהִתְמַנּוֹת עַל צָרְכֵי צִבּוּר. אָמַר לוֹ: בְּנִי, עָלֶיהָ אֲנִי בּוֹכֶה, שֶׁמָּא אֶתֵּן דִּין וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן עַל שֶׁהָיִיתִי יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת דִּינֵיהֶם שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, הֱוֵי, וְאִישׁ תְּרוּמוֹת יֶהֶרְסֶנָּה.
(1) Now these are the ordinances (Exod. 21:1). Scripture says elsewhere: The king by justice establishes the land, but the man who sets himself apart (terumah)[The word terumah means “something set aside,” as with the priestly offering] overthrows it (Prov. 29:4). The Torah’s king rules through justice and thereby causes the earth to endure, but the person who sets himself apart (terumah) overthrows it. This implies that if a man acts as though he were a terumah (the portion separated, or set aside, for the priests) by secluding himself in the corner of his home and declaring: “What concern are the problems of the community to me? What does their judgment mean to me? Why should I listen to them? I will do well (without them),” he helps to destroy the world. Hence the man of separation (terumah) overthrows it.
(2) It is related that when R. Ammi was about to die his sister’s son visited him and found him weeping. He said to him: “My master, why do you weep? Is there a single law that you have not learned and taught? Indeed even now thy disciples sit in your presence. Is there any kind deed you have not performed? But more important than all the virtues you possess is the fact that you have restrained yourself from acting as a judge and have refrained from the overseeing the needs of the community.” Whereupon he replied: “My son, that is why I weep. Perhaps I shall have to account for the fact that I refused to serve as a judge in Israel though I was able to do so.” Hence, but the man of separation overthrows it.
This source talks about the obligations of king. How would you apply these rules in a contemporary democracy? What are the minimum duties you believe a citizen has?
What does this passage tell us about leadership and responsibility?
(ה) הֲכָזֶ֗ה יִֽהְיֶה֙ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵ֔הוּ י֛וֹם עַנּ֥וֹת אָדָ֖ם נַפְשׁ֑וֹ הֲלָכֹ֨ף כְּאַגְמֹ֜ן רֹאשׁ֗וֹ וְשַׂ֤ק וָאֵ֙פֶר֙ יַצִּ֔יעַ הֲלָזֶה֙ תִּקְרָא־צ֔וֹם וְי֥וֹם רָצ֖וֹן לַיהוָֽה׃ (ו) הֲל֣וֹא זֶה֮ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵהוּ֒ פַּתֵּ֙חַ֙ חַרְצֻבּ֣וֹת רֶ֔שַׁע הַתֵּ֖ר אֲגֻדּ֣וֹת מוֹטָ֑ה וְשַׁלַּ֤ח רְצוּצִים֙ חָפְשִׁ֔ים וְכָל־מוֹטָ֖ה תְּנַתֵּֽקוּ׃ (ז) הֲל֨וֹא פָרֹ֤ס לָֽרָעֵב֙ לַחְמֶ֔ךָ וַעֲנִיִּ֥ים מְרוּדִ֖ים תָּ֣בִיא בָ֑יִת כִּֽי־תִרְאֶ֤ה עָרֹם֙ וְכִסִּית֔וֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תִתְעַלָּֽם׃ (ח) אָ֣ז יִבָּקַ֤ע כַּשַּׁ֙חַר֙ אוֹרֶ֔ךָ וַאֲרֻכָתְךָ֖ מְהֵרָ֣ה תִצְמָ֑ח וְהָלַ֤ךְ לְפָנֶ֙יךָ֙ צִדְקֶ֔ךָ כְּב֥וֹד יְהוָ֖ה יַאַסְפֶֽךָ׃ (ט) אָ֤ז תִּקְרָא֙ וַיהוָ֣ה יַעֲנֶ֔ה תְּשַׁוַּ֖ע וְיֹאמַ֣ר הִנֵּ֑נִי
(5) Is such the fast I desire, A day for people to starve their bodies? Is it bowing your head like a read and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day the Eternal wants? (6) No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free; and to break off every yoke. (7) It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin. (8) Then shall your light burst through like the dawn and your healing spring up quickly; your Vindicator shall march before you, the Presence of the Eternal shall be your defense. (9) Then, when you call, the Eternal will answer; when you cry, God will say: Here I am.
How does Isaiah categorize the relationship between Jewish ritual (fasting) and ethics?
What does Rabbi Tarfon teach us about the nature of working for justice?