Mitzvah of the Week:
You shall not insult the deaf,
or place a stumbling block before the blind.
You shall fear your God; I am God. (Leviticus 19:14)
This week’s Mitzvah Card instructs us to resist setting up environments and situations in ways that trip others, literally and ethically.
This is a truly remarkable commandment that extends to all facets of our lives. The literal implications are obvious. We are prohibited from insulting anyone, especially those with physical or mental disabilities. We know that sticks and stones do injure us but the greatest harm is inflicted by offensive language.
Also, this mitzvah teaches us that we must not create situations where we tempt others to misbehave or go astray from proper conduct – metaphorically creating a “stumbling block before the blind”. For example, leaving our purse or wallet in full view in our locked cars would lure a passerby to break into the car to get the wallet. Would the robber be innocent? Of course not. But we would share blame for the obvious temptation.
Chumash Etz Hayim notes that this prohibition includes giving bad advice on purpose! Think of examples when you might have done so, or be tempted to do so. Perhaps to a business competitor or a classmate?
Lastly, this mitzvah calls us to clean up our yards and homes to be sure that we are not leaving items in our spaces that might cause harm to another.
May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi Debbie Israel