“Remembering our sufferings should lead us to be sensitive, compassionate, and kind with the ‘ger’, stranger, who lives in our societies”
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
This week’s parashah deals with different kinds of laws: civil, moral, and religious. Among these laws, there is one related to strangers. This law appears twice in this week’s portion of the Torah:
“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Sh’mot 22:20)
“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Sh’mot 23:9)
This law does not appear only in this portion of the Torah but it appears, according to the Talmud, thirtysix times in the Torah! (Talmud Babli Baba Metzia 59b).
Why do we have this law so many times in the Torah? Maybe to highlight the importance of this law. It is important and essential to not oppress the stranger who lives in our societies.
What is the reason for that? You may say that because the stranger is a human being, it is created in God’s image. Therefore, he deserves respect and be treated with dignity as every person does. These are rational reasons. However, it is interesting to note that the Torah does not appeal to a rational argument but to an empathetic one.