Oxford Jewish Thought

Lectures, essays, questions & articles

by Rabbi Eli Brackman

Parsha and Manuscript - Ki Tetze - 'Ethics of Usury'

MS. Canon. Or. 81, fol. 176 (1396) Ki Tetze.pngA complex point throughout Jewish history is related to the practice of usury. In the Torah portion of Ki Tetze it discusses the prohibition to take interest. An ethical imperative in Judaism is to help the needy and the poor with charity and to offer a loan to one who needs. The law regarding charity in the form of a loan is found in Deuteronomy:[1] If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities, in your land the Lord, your G-d, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking.’ Similarly, in Exodus, there is an obligation to… Read More »

Parsha and Manuscript - 'Shoftim: Be wholehearted with G-d’

MS. Canon. Or. 81, Fol. 173 (1396) Shoftim.pngIn the Torah portion of Shoftim, it discusses the commandment not to follow soothsayers, diviners and sorcery, which was common practice in Canaan, but to be wholehearted with G-d. The Torah states:[1]


When you have come to the land the Lord your G-d is giving you, you shall not learn to do like the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire, a soothsayer, a diviner of [auspicious] times, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, a pithom sorcerer, a yido'a sorcerer, or a necromancer. For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations, the Lord, your G-d is driving them out from before you. Be wholehear… Read More »

Looking for older posts? See the sidebar for the Archive.