Widows and Orphans: Stop the Suffering: Book of Exodus – Other Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Widows and Orphans: Stop the Suffering

The Torah says (Exodus 22:20-23): "Don't taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt... Don't cause pain to widows or orphans." Why is this so important?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

It is a natural inclination to pick on the weak. And those who have been weak and picked on are most likely to revenge themselves by picking in turn on others. The Bible warns us to exercise special protection for those incapable of protecting themselves.

People sometimes say they can't believe in God because the world is so full of suffering. But I have found that people who say that are rarely involved in stopping the world's suffering. And the people who are involved in healing the world's suffering rarely talk like that. When your life revolves around yourself, the world is a cold, sterile, and unfriendly place. When your life revolves around giving to others, you feel how wonderful it is to be alive.

Bart Stern, a Holocaust survivor, told me of the time a man in Auschwitz was robbed of his daily ration of bread. Because of the starved and emaciated state of concentration camp inmates, this was tantamount to a sentence of death. Bart gave the man some of his own bread.

He told me, "The many thousands of dollars I've given to tzedaka since the war are nothing compared to that one piece of bread."

Bart had nothing to spare, but he nevertheless found the ability to give. Perhaps because of that, he was one of the gentlest and happiest men I ever knew. Auschwitz didn't make him bitter. It made him better.

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