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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 235 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora

235 - THE LAW OF A CANAANITE BONDMAN


Leviticus 25:46 -- “And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.”

“It is permissible to employ a Canaanite bondman in the most onerous labor. Nevertheless, although that is the law, we are alike enjoined that a man be merciful and pursue justice, that he does not make the yoke unduly heavy upon his bondman and does not afflict him, and that he allows him to partake of whatever he eats and drinks.”

“The sages of old were wont to give to a bondman of every course that they themselves partook of, and would offer food to their beasts and bondmen before taking it themselves. Thus it is said, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress (Psalms 123:2).”

“Further, the master is not to abuse him by striking him or by speaking violent words. Scripture approves our use of the Canaanites as serfs, but does not permit us to humiliate them. Neither is the master to resort excessively to violent words and anger in dealing with his serf; he must speak to him softly, and give heed to his complaints. Thus Job, in claiming credit for his virtuous conduct, asks: Did not He who made me in the womb make them (i.e. the servants)? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:15). Brutality and arrogance ever characterize the conduct o the heathen worshippers of idols, but the seed of Abraham our father, that is to say, the people of Israel, whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has graced with the boon of the Torah and commanded to observe its statutes and ordinances, are righteous and merciful to all. Likewise concerning the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which we are commanded to emulate* Scripture says: His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalms 145:9). He who is merciful causes mercy to be shown to himself, as it is said, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you (Deuteronomy 13:17)”**

* See pos. comm. 8
** Mishneh Torah, Kinyan, Hilchoth Abadim IX, 8

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