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Daily Devotional

A Message of Equality

August 10, 2022 - 12:00 am

This Devotional's Hebrew Word


(Let's go to the park.)

Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. — Deuteronomy 5:13-14

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Va’etchanan, which means “I pleaded,” from Deuteronomy 3:23–7:11.

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of tension in our society around claims of racism. It’s been painful to watch how people have turned against each other and used skin colour and ethnicity as a tool to increase division between people.

One of the fundamental lessons of the Creation story in the Bible is that all people are equal in the eyes of God. This point is made explicitly by the rabbis in the Mishna, the authoritative collection of teachings and laws from the end of the Second Temple period:

For this reason Man was created as an individual, to teach that anyone who causes the loss of one life, it is as though they have destroyed an entire world. And anyone who saves one life, it is as though they have saved the entire world. And so that no person can say to his friend, ‘My father is greater than yours.’ — Mishna Sanhedrin

We all come from Adam and Eve. We are descendants of the first human being into whose nostrils God breathed the breath of life. All of us are equally children of God.

A Message of Equality

We see this message of the equality of all people in this week’s Torah portion when Moses repeated the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel. We read, “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.”

Did you catch that? The Sabbath is not only a day of rest from physical labour. It is a day to pause the entire social and economic system that gives some people control over the lives of others.

The Sabbath is a day of freedom from all the man-made hierarchies of social status. The Sabbath carries a message of equality, a reminder that we are all equally free children of the Creator of the world.

Your turn: Join us in praying for peace among all people, in recognition of the image of God that we all share.

     

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