The Rabbi Speaks
Last week, we concluded reading Sefer Vayikrah, Leviticus, which ended with a chapter about the monetary value of both property and people that are dedicated to the Temple. Animals, of course, if they were kosher, were offered up on the Altar. Non-kosher animals, some property and people, of course, were redeemed with a monetary payment. So, what is a human being worth in those days? We think of life as infinitely valuable – each and every life is equally valuable. Our ancestors assigned different values based on age and gender! Men were valued higher than women, and able-bodied men valued higher than younger and older. This might be disturbing to us, but if we consider how damages are assessed in our legal system it is not so strange. And yet, most of the time, we avoid such distinctions. Unfortunately, the Covid pandemic raises these issues as our balance saving lives against returning to work and normal activities. I suggest that we, the Jewish people, should give greater weight to keeping ourselves and others healthy over returning to normalcy too soon.
Rabbi Art Vernon