This week’s Torah Portion, Mishpatim, offers a series of detailed laws which were to guide the Israelites as they sought to build a covenanted community. Many of these laws are outdated and, thankfully, no longer relevant. These include the laws regarding the treatment of slaves and the social standing of women. There are other laws, however, that seem more relevant than ever. Chief among them is this:
And you shall not mistreat a stranger, nor shall you oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Eִgypt. You shall not oppress any widow or orphan.
The Torah is clear. A community is responsible for welcoming the stranger, is prohibited from taking advantage of guests, visitors and “strangers” and is required to protect the most vulnerable in society. The rabbis of the Talmud went even further. They extended this level of care and respect to all people teaching,”Great is human …