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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

05/11/2023 05:00:09 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

We come to the end of Leviticus this week as we read the double portion, B’har-Behukotai. As in other places in the Torah, we find in Behukotai a section that tells us what we will gain if we keep God’s commandment (a place in the land and bountiful crops) and also what we lose if we fail to keep God’s commandments. The Torah says failure to keep the commandments will result in our people being scattered among the nations, and God “will cast a faintness into their hearts ... The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as though from the sword, they shall fall though none pursues.” Even in its sadness, it is a beautiful line, “the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight.” In this state of exile, the rustle of leaves will lead us to give flight.

Today, the government Covid health emergency ends, and with the end of the formal crisis is the end of Title 42. This CDC regulation has allowed asylum-seeking migrants to be deported almost immediately. Title 42 was started during the previous administration and has continued in our current government. We would have hoped that with the end of Title 42 would be an opening to ensure that asylum is still possible in our country, but the exact opposite is true. Sadly, the abuse of immigrants and asylum seekers continues in the political stalemate that is American immigration policy. Even worse, the media and political class treat asylum seekers as a national security threat. While it is a substantial issue, for a government and country of our size, these asylum seekers are not much more than a driven leaf, yet we treat them as an invading force.

Like most other countries, we have plenty of problems to deal with, and still, I continue to believe immigration policy is the most Jewish public policy issue we face today. Migration is a part of our religious and historical experience as Jews. We must not look away from the face of the migrant, and we must let our elected officials know that the status quo is profoundly immoral and unacceptable.    

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784