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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 2 (Negative) -- Prohibition: 256 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 2 - The 365 Prohibitions of the Tora

256 - DEALING HARSHLY WITH FATHERLESS CHILDREN AND WIDOWS


Exodus 22:22-24 -- 22You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.”

In his “Mishneh Torah”, Maimonides says: “A man ought to be especially careful of his behavior towards widows and orphans, for their souls are exceedingly depressed and their spirits low. Even if they are wealthy, even if they are the widow and orphans of a king, we are especially enjoined concerning them, as it is said… How are we to conduct ourselves towards them? One must not speak to them otherwise than tenderly. One must show them unvarying courtesy; not hurt them physically with hard toil, nor wound their feelings with harsh speech. One must take greater care of their property than of one’s own. Whoever irritates them, provokes them to anger, pains them, tyrannizes over them, or causes them loss of money, is guilty of a transgression, and still more so if one beats them or curses them. Though whipping is not inflicted for this transgression, its punishment is explicitly set forth in the Torah…. He who created the world by His word made a covenant with widows and orphans that when they cry out because of violence, they will be answered. This applies only to cases where a person afflicts them for his own ends. But if a teacher punishes orphan children in order to teach them Torah or a trade, or lead them in the right way – that is permissible. Yet, he should not treat them like others, but should make a distinction in their favor. He should guide them gently, with the utmost tenderness and courtesy, whether they are bereft of a father or of a mother, as it is said, For the LORD will plead their cause.”*

* Proverbs 22:23; Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Deoth VI, 10

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