Friday, March 24, 2006

The Sabbath, the Tabernacle, and Creation

Exodus 31:12-17 (abridged)
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel, saying, Surely you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.
You shall keep the Sabbath, for it is holy to you; the one who defiles it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off….
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord….
Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath… throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant.
It is a sign between me and the people of Israel forever, for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he ceased and rested.

Here, at the completion of the plans for building and furnishing the tabernacle, a reminder of the Sabbath commandment has been inserted. Likewise, at the beginning of the section which describes the actual construction of the tabernacle, another reference to the Sabbath commandment occurs:

Exodus 35:1-3
And Moses gathered all the congregation of the people of Israel together, and said to them, These are the things that the Lord has commanded, that you should do them.
Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord; whoever does work on it shall be put to death.
You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.

The creative aspect of work

Is the juxtaposition of these passages coincidental, or did the author intend for a connection to be made between the work (m’lachah, Exod. 36:7) performed in the construction of the tabernacle and the command not to perform any work (m’lachah, Exod. 31:14, 35:2) on the Sabbath? The term work, which means more precisely craftsmanship, occurs most often in these two contexts, the tabernacle and the Sabbaths (including certain festival days). It is the creative aspect of work which finds expression in this term: not only the creativity of a skilled craftsman, but the way that all work alters the available materials to make them more useful and therefore more valuable, from the manual labor of the “woodcutter and waterdrawer” (Deut. 29:9) to the specialized artistry of the “engraver and designer and embroiderer.” (Exod. 35:35)

Add to this another connection: the same hand that wrote about the construction and furnishing of the tabernacle also wrote the opening section of Genesis concerning the creation and furnishing of the world (1:1-2:3), which just happens to conclude with an allusion to the Sabbath. Other parallels between these passages have also been noted, such as the term Spirit of God (Gen. 1:2, Exod. 31:3, 35:31), the name Betsalel (in the image of God) and various words related to work and creation.

Since the Torah prohibited work on the Sabbath, how was that term to be defined and delimited? If a community is to observe any set of rules, the terminology must be made concrete. The Sabbath is not observed in the abstract, but in practical life. The rabbis' solution of using the work on the construction of the tabernacle as their model was reasonably based on Exodus 35-36 where that term is repeated many times in the process of describing how the tabernacle was built. The tabernacle model allowed them to i) avoid ad hoc decisions on the matter and ii) appeal to the Torah as their constitutional authority.

The result? Thirty-nine categories of work prohibited on the Sabbath, as enumerated in the Mishnah:

Sowing, Plowing, Reaping
Binding sheaves, Threshing, Winnowing
Selecting, Grinding, Sifting
Kneading, Baking
Shearing wool, Washing wool, Beating wool, Dyeing wool
Spinning, Weaving
Making two loops, Weaving two threads, Separating two threads
Tying, Untying, Sewing two stitches, Tearing
Trapping, Slaughtering, Flaying, Salting meat
Curing hide, Scraping hide, Cutting hide up
Writing two letters, Erasing two letters
Building, Tearing a building down
Extinguishing a fire, Kindling a fire
Hitting with a hammer
Taking an object from the private domain to the public, or transporting an object in the public domain.
(Mishnah Shabbat, 7:2)

The Sabbath and Doing Good

These activities are not prohibited on the Sabbath because they are bad things to do; they are good things to do. Those men and women (35:25) who participated in preparing the Tabernacle for the service of God were doing good and very skillful work, and their contribution was highly valued and highly praised. But on the Sabbath even that good work has to cease.

In the Christian’s New Testament there is an account of Jesus choosing to heal a man on the Sabbath, and the justification for his act is given: “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:12b) What curious terminology for a son of Israel to use regarding the Sabbath–even more curious when compared with the LXX of the creation account in Genesis. The key words are do (poien) and good (kalos).

On six days God performed the work of creation, on the seventh day God rested. Comparing Greek with Greek, we find that:

a. On the first day, after creating light, Gen. 1:4a, “And God saw that the light was good (LXX, kalon).”

b. On the third day, after forming the land and the seas, Gen. 1:10b, “And God saw that it was good.”

c. Again on the third day, after bringing forth plants and trees from the land, Gen. 1:12b, “And God saw that it was good.”

d. On the fourth day, after placing lights in the sky to mark hours and days and seasons, Gen. 1:18b, “And God saw that it was good.”

e. On the fifth day, after making creatures to fill the sea and sky, Gen. 1:21b, “And God saw that it was good.”

f. On the sixth day, after making creatures to move on land, Gen. 1:25b, “And God saw that it was good.”

g. Again on the sixth day, after making man, Gen. 1:31a, “And God saw all that he made, and, behold it was very good.”

From these verses we can see that God was engaged in doing good on the six days of creation–specifically he was doing the kind of creative work which is forbidden Israel on the Sabbath. As the text continues:

Genesis 2:2, based on LXX: And God completed on the sixth day his work* which he had been doing (epoiesen), and he ceased on the seventh day from all his work* which he had been doing (epoiesen).

Genesis 2:3, based on LXX: And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it he ceased from all his work* of creating which God had done (poiesai).

So when the account has Jesus argue that doing good is lawful on the Sabbath, I must argue to the contrary: It is precisely doing good that is forbidden. Even ‘doing the work of the Lord’ must cease!

*his work, Heb., m'lach'to (same term as found in Exodus in the contexts of the Sabbath and the tabernacle)


A. The Laws of the Sabbath in the Torah (aside from “keep” and “remember”)

1. Rest (Exod. 23:12; cf. 34:21)
2. Sanctify (Exod. 20:8; cf. Deut. 5:12), by implication at its onset and termination

1. Not to work (Exod. 20:10; cf. Deut. 5:14)
2. Not to go (travel) beyond permitted limits (Exod. 16:29)
3. Not to kindle a fire (Exod. 35:3)

B. The Torah as the source (authority) for additional Sabbath legislation:

Gen. 2:1-3 Not to pursue any "creative" activity (e.g., writing)
Exod. 16:22-30 Food for the Sabbath to be prepared on Friday
Lev. 23:3 Assemble for worship (miqra-qodesh=sacred assembly?)
Exod. 35:1 Assemble for instruction
Num. 28:9-10 Sabbath offerings
Exod. 35:4ff The categories of work defined by analogy to construction of the tabernacle

C. The Laws of the Sabbath honored elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible

Isa. 56: 2, 6 The Sabbath proclaimed as one of the essential practices that define Israel
Isa. 58:13-14 The Sabbath to be honored by not pursuing our business affairs, etc. (cf. Amos 8:5)
Jer. 17:21-24 Not to carry a load or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath
Neh. 13:15-22 Various prohibited activities listed; gates of Jerusalem to be shut on the Sabbath

Actually the two passages from Isaiah, along with Exod. 31:12-17 (which, among other things, declares the Sabbath to be an everlasting covenant), are what make the Sabbath indispensable in my opinion.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sacred Vestments

Sacred Vestments

You shall make sacred vestments for Aaron your brother, for glory and splendor…. These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban, and a sash. They shall make sacred vestments for Aaron your brother and his sons so that they will serve as priests to Me. (Exod. 28:2, 4)

Add to this list a linen undergarment (Exod. 28:42) and a headplate (Exod. 28:36).

What significance do the sacred vestments carry for the service of Aaron and his sons as priests? Both the ephod and the breastpiece bear the names of the twelve tribes who together constitute Israel, so obviously their significance has something to do with representation of the nation before God. But for the other garments there appears to be little importance apart from their ornamental purpose to give those who wear them "glory and splendor." (Exod. 28:3, 40) “Blessed is he who crowns Israel with splendor.” (Berakhot 60b)

Not so fast. In Talmud tractate Zevachim, a rabbi by the name of Inyani bar Sason asks why the topics of vestments and offerings are set side by side in Leviticus chapters 7-8? The answer: just as the offerings atone, so do the vestments! The explanation that follows is fascinating, albeit something of a stretch. Each of the vestments has a particular sin that they atone for, especially as they apply to the priest’s service before God. We may also learn from the text what sins were considered among the most grevious by the sages of the Talmud.

Zevachim 88a (cf. Arachin 16a)
The tunic atones for the shedding of blood, as it says, And they slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the tunic in the blood. (Gen. 37:31)

Joseph's special tunic becomes the model for the tunic worn by Aaron and his sons. Just as Joseph's brothers used the goat's blood to represent (though falsely) that Joseph had become the victim of bloodshed, so the tunic of a later age would atone for bloodshed.

The undergarment atones for sexual immorality [lit., exposing nakedness], as it says, And you shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. (Exod. 28:42)

Sexual immorality defiles us and corrupts a priest’s service to God. Leviticus chapter 18 defines this sin in more detail.

The turban atones for an arrogant spirit. How? R. Hanina said: Let an article which is high come and atone for haughtiness.

“God is everywhere save in arrogance.” (A.J. Heschel) A priest who is arrogant will find God absent from his worship. “Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him I will not endure.” (Psalm 101:5b) Perhaps arrogance was behind the “strange fire” for which Nadab and Abihu were put to death. As another passage from the Talmud teaches: “R. Joseph said: Man should always learn from the character of his Creator, because the Holy One, blessed be he, left behind all the mountains and heights and caused his Presence to abide on Mt. Sinai, and he left behind all the beautiful trees and caused his Presence to abide in a bush.” (Sotah 5a)

The sash atones for the thoughts of the heart, because of where it is worn.

The sash was worn over the heart (cf. Josephus, Antiquities III, 7:2). Some sins are done in public, some in private, and some only in the thoughts of our heart. The thoughts of our heart only God knows: “You search all the secret chambers of man’s inner being and examine his feelings and his heart. No matter is hidden from you and nothing is concealed from your sight.” (Afternoon service, Erev Yom Kippur)

The breastpiece atones for ordinances [or, legal decisions], as it is written, And you shall make a breastpiece of decision. (Exod. 28:15)

Even laws require atonement, perhaps because they are interpreted and administered by fallible judges, or simply because they address fallible people and institutions.

The ephod atones for idolatry, as it says, And without ephod or teraphim. (Hosea 3:4, interpreted as, Without ephod there are teraphim, i.e., idols).

This sin is particularly relevant to the priest’s service: what forms and symbols of worship are acceptable to God. Idolatry has a deceptive way of replacing the One who alone is worthy of worship. We replace the infinite, invisible God with a finite image, whether a god of stone or a god of flesh or a god of our imagination (i.e., a mental image). Or we replace the majestic Name with names that are invoked as magic formulas.

The robe atones for slander [lashon hara, evil speech]. How? R. Hanina said: Let an article of sound (cf. Exod. 28:33) come and atone for evil sound.

“Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him I will silence…” (Psalm 101:5a) Judging from the wording of the commandment against slander found in Lev. 19:16, this sin was considered almost equivalent to bloodshed: “You shall not go about spreading slander among your people; you shall not stand over the blood of your neighbor, for I am the Lord.”

The headplate atones for a brazen face, for of the headplate it is written, And it shall be on Aaron's forehead (Exod. 28:38), while of a brazen face it is written, Yet you have a harlot's forehead! (Jer. 3:3)

A brazen face describes insolent behavior: doing what is wrong openly and without shame, as Jer. 3:3 continues, “you refused to be ashamed.” Likewise Isa. 3:9, “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it.” The headplate was made of pure gold, engraved with the words “Holy to the Lord” and attached to the turban so that it rested on the forehead. What an awesome sign of purity and sanctity to offer in atonement for insolence.

Interesting to note: In Arachin 16a this discussion is preceded by a list of seven sins for which "leprosy" is incurred, and among these seven are slander, bloodshed, sexual immorality, and arrogance. The afternoon service on the eve of Yom Kippur also makes mention of several of these same sins: sexual immorality, thoughts of the heart, slander, haughty eyes, and a brazen face.

So the sacred vestments contribute to atonement alongside the offerings. But that is not all. The passage continues:

R. Joshua b. Levi said: For two things we find no atonement through offerings, but find atonement for them through something else, namely bloodshed and slander: bloodshed by the heifer whose neck is broken (Deut. 21:1-9), and slander by incense. R. Hanina said: How do we know that incense atones? Because it is written, And he presented the incense, and atoned for the people. (Num. 17:12 MT) And the school of R. Ishmael taught: For what does incense atone? For slander: let that which is done in secret (the offering of incense on the altar) come and atone for that which is done in secret (how slander begins).

What then follows is an attempt to reconcile the apparent conflict between the sacred vestments (in making atonement for bloodshed and slander) and these other avenues of atonement. But the main point is that atonement is made in these specific instances without sacrificial offerings of any kind.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The tabernacle and the beauty of holiness

Text: Exodus 25-27

The description of the tabernacle's materials and furnishings--from the fine detail of the lampstand to the brightly colored curtains to the tremendous expense of gold--brings to mind the expression found several places in the Writings, "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." (Psalm 29:2, 96:9; I Chron. 16:29; cf. II Chron. 20:21) The word translated beauty (had'rat, from hadar) carries the meaning of decorous and ornate splendor. The combination of beauty and holiness found in the tabernacle was an appropriate form for worship of the Lord, as the writer of Psalm 27 put it: "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all my days, to gaze upon the beauty (no'am) of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." (v. 4; cf. the use of tabernacle in vv. 5 and 6) The physical structure became both a tabernacle/mishkan for God's presence and a sanctuary/mikdash to exhibit God's holiness, a place to seek him with both joy and awe.

Read Exod. 25:8, "And let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell (cf. tabernacle) among them," with Psalm 96:6, "Grandeur and splendor (hadar) are before him, strength and beauty (tiferet) are in his sanctuary."

So far we have seen three words translated beauty: hadar (splendor, decoration), no'am (delight, favor), and tiferet (ornament), all of them descriptive of the tabernacle and of the One whose gift of his presence made the tabernacle a sanctuary.

God's furniture

Doesn’t this formal beauty constitute idolatry?

First, the use of forms in worship does not equal idolatry unless the forms themselves become objects of veneration in place of God.

Second, Solomon prays, "But will God really dwell on the earth? Behold! The heavens and the heavens of the heavens cannot contain you, how much less indeed this House that I have built." (I Kings 8:27) Nevertheless, Solomon builds a temple far more extravagant than the tabernacle described in Exodus, even redundant cherubim where, other scriptures tell us, God "sits enthroned."

Third, Ezekiel decries idolatry more often than any other prophet, with at least 39 references to idols, even idols in the temple (8:10), yet he promotes restoration of the temple service with all its intricate forms.

Today we enter worship through prayers and blessings intentionally patterned after the sacrificial service of the tabernacle and the temple. The purpose now is the same as the purpose then: to draw near to God and stand in awe of his presence, to see his beauty in the recited words and formal rites of the community of Israel.

Psalm 61:5 MT
Let me dwell in your tent forever; let me take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Psalm 141:2
May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Beyond the Ten Commandments

Exod. 21:1
Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them….

Psalm 119:7
I will give thanks to you with an upright heart when I study your righteous ordinances.

The Ten Commandments hold a rightful place of honor in the religious traditions of both Jews and Christians. They are recorded almost verbatim twice, in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5, and are usually assumed to be the content of the stone tablets Moses brought from his stay atop Sinai (cf. Exod. 34:28; Deut. 4:13, 10:4). I have often heard people suggest that the Ten Commandments are the basis of true religion and government. Of course, most of these people have no idea what they are talking about: they do not observe the Sabbath and they seldom understand what it means to take the name of God in vain. (See discussion below.) It is also worth noting, from a source-critical perspective, that the Ten Commandments in their present form are later than some other sets of commandments, such as those beginning in Exodus chapter 21.

In Exodus 21:1-23:13 numerous “ordinances” (mishpatim) are listed which range from the proper treatment of slaves to various laws concerning the humble ox. In this section alone we will find well over forty commandments: according to Maimonides, at least 23 positive and 24 negative commandments.

The commandments of the Torah, often called the Law, are sometimes supposed to consist of a severe form of justice, an eye for an eye. In fact, the Torah has as much to do with mercy as with justice. The Torah is a covenant between God and Israel, which binds them together in several aspects: righteousness (tsedeq), justice (mishpat), kindness (chesed), compassion (rachamim), and faithfulness (emunah).

Hosea 2:21-22 MT
And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice and kindness and compassion. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord.

1. Righteousness: Exod. 22:15-16 MT If a man has sexual relations with a virgin who is not engaged to someone else, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife, whether or not the father gives his consent for them to marry. Paying the dowry is a matter of doing the right thing by the person he has wronged, not retribution. He is certainly not striking a bargain with the father, who may still refuse to give her to him. Incidentally, Deut. 22:29 adds an additional requirement: he may never divorce her!

An aside: Not only does this ordinance force the man to do the right thing after the fact, it may also serve as an effective deterrent against male promiscuity. That is likely the real issue of social concern, not so much to prevent premarital sex as to discourage casual sex and sexual promiscuity.

2. Justice: Exod. 23:1-3, 6-8 Juridicial rules are given to safeguard against mere vengeance and to ensure a just verdict.a. Do not accept a false (or illegal) report (v. 1). This may apply to hearsay testimony as well as to an accusation made without the accused present.
b. Do not agree with a wicked person to corrupt your testimony (v. 1), and so cause harm to any side in a dispute. Neither commit perjury nor suborn perjury.
c. Do not allow others to influence your testimony or verdict by the force of their numbers (v. 2), as opposed to the force of their arguments. Majority rule may be sanctioned by this ordinance but a warning is issued against its abuse.
d. Do not show favoritism to any side in a dispute (vv. 3, 6).
e. Do not convict a person based on inadequate (possibly circumstantial) evidence (v. 7). It is better to let the guilty go free than to wrong the innocent.
f. Do not accept bribes (v. 8).

3. Kindness: Exod. 23:4-5 We have social obligations that extend even to our worst enemy. We may not refuse to help an enemy in distress, e.g., to unload his fallen donkey. See the Addendum below.

4. Compassion: Exod. 22:24-26 MT Lend to the poor without interest, and if they are unable to pay do not demand payment. If they need what was pledged for the loan, return it to them without delay. In other words, be gracious to the poor, for God is gracious (chanun).

5. Faithfulness: Exod. 23:13 The commandments require faithfulness toward people (cf. Exod. 21:10-11) as well as faithfulness toward God. In this verse the latter responsibility is made clear: faithfully keep all my instructions, and do not invoke the name of any other god, rather swear by my name, bless in my name, and speak in my name, my name alone. “I am the Lord; that is my name; and I will not give my glory to another, or my praise to idols.” (Isa. 42:8)

Even so, the Lord’s name is not to be used as the names of other gods, as a magic formula to obtain desired ends. Nor are we to take the Lord’s name in vain (Exod. 20:7). This does not refer to the use of profanity, though such careless speech should be avoided simply because it dishonors the God we claim to love. A more literal translation of the commandment may help: "Do not lift up the name of the Lord your God to the vain...” That is to say, do not use the Lord’s name in the worship of an idol (as in Jer. 18:15, "my people burn incense to the vain"). Psalm 24:4 makes an obvious allusion to this commandment, only obscured by inconsistent translation of the two passages. Together they refer to either: (a) as above, worship of worthless idols; or (b) taking (swearing) an oath "in vain." I prefer the former, but the latter is supported in traditional Jewish commentaries, and both the JPS and NJPS translations.

Through observance of the commandments Israel will come to “know the Lord.” This assertion is even supported by Jeremiah’s utopian vision of a new covenant (Jer. 31:33-34), for it is the Torah which will be written on their heart, and though it will no longer need to be taught, the result will be the same: through the Torah they will “know the Lord.”

“Law gives principles concrete application and reality.” (Elliot Dorff, Knowing God)

Addendum: Your Enemy’s Ox

Exodus 23:4-5 (cf. Deut. 22:1-4)
When you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey straying, you shall surely return it to him.
When you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying under its load, and would refrain from restoring* it to him, you shall surely restore* it with him [i.e., to help him raise it up, or, to help him unload it].

The phrase “you shall surely…” reflects the Hebrew form of an infinitive absolute followed by an imperfect of the same root, which if translated literally would be “to return you shall return” and “to restore you shall restore.” The Talmud interprets the use of this form here to mean “in all circumstances.” (Baba Metsia 31a) In other words, don’t look too hard for excuses to disregard the commandment.

On the other hand, even the clearest commandment may be impractical to obey without some interpretation. For example, does the word “enemy” intend only a person within Israel or only among the nations or both? Are we only obligated to help unload the animal or does the commandment expect us to help reload the animal as well? Do we have to provide our assistance without compensation? Are we to understand the commandment to apply solely to the specific animals mentioned or are the animals representative of a broader categories?

In order for the commandments to be applied in practice to real life situations, not just admired as wise and compassionate but abstract principles, they require further interpretation and elaboration. Critics may call this legalism; those who take the commandments seriously call this observance. The following passage illustrates the role of rabbinical writings (Oral Torah) in clarifying and delimiting obligations imposed by the commandments:

Baba Metsia 32a:
[Mishnah] If one unloads and loads, unloads and loads, even four or five times, he is still obligated, as it says, You shall surely restore. (Exod. 23:5) If [the owner] went, sat down and said, “since the commandment rests on you, if you desire to unload, unload:” he is exempt, as it says, with him; but if [the owner] was old or sick, he is still obligated. There is a commandment from the Torah to unload, but not to load. R. Simeon said: Also to load. R. Jose the Galilean said: If [the animal] bore more than its proper load, he has no obligation to [its owner], as it says, under its load, which means, a load under which it can stand.

The majority of the rabbis held that unloading should be without pay, but loading for pay. Again R. Simeon dissented: Both without payment. (Baba Metsia 32a)

They also debated a rationale for the commandment: is it to relieve the suffering of the animal?

Baba Metsia 32b:
Now, should you think that [relieving] the suffering of animals is a Scriptural ordinance, what difference does it make whether the owner joins him or not? Certainly [relieving] the suffering of animals is a Scriptural ordinance, for do you think that exempt means entirely exempt? Perhaps he is exempt without payment, but he is obligated with payment, according to this rule: When the owner joins him, he must serve him for no pay; when the owner does not join him, he must serve him for payment; yet after all [relieving] the suffering of animals is a Scriptural ordinance.

So the rationale is not necessarily to love your enemy. Such love may be a fine aspiration, but it is not commanded. To love your fellow-man, even to love the stranger, these are commanded. No, the enemy is not the issue here, the unfortunate animal is. The enemy is mentioned only to broaden the scope of the commandment, so that whether the animal belongs to friend or foe, you must help, for the sake of the animal.

An additional reason is offered for helping the enemy as well as the brother: to allay his enmity toward you. (Baba Metsia 32b)

Finally, to define the minimum and maximum obligation of a commandment is important.

Baba Metsia 33a:
Our Rabbis taught: When you see. One might think: even from a distance. So it is taught: When you meet… One might think: meet is to be taken literally. So it is taught: When you see…. A Tanna: And he must go with him as far as a parsang* [in case the animal should fall again]. Rabbah b. Bar Hana said: But he receives payment.


All quotations from the Talmud are adapted from the Soncino edition.

Restore: An unusual sense of a Hebrew word which generally means to leave or forsake, and sometimes to release, but here appears in a context which suggests help provided to either upright or unload an animal; cf. Neh. 3:8, restore or repair. Also see the parallel Deut. 22:4, “you shall surely raise it with him.”

Parsang: As a rough approximation, a few miles.

According to Maimonides, Exod. 23:4-5 can be broken down into three commandments: help unload, help load, and, conversely, do not refuse to help.