Deadly Letter of the Law

Tzvi Ilan ben Gita update: Ilan suffered a seizure. It is a small setback and not completely unexpected as it was always a possibility with the type of injury he sustained. He is back in the hospital but we are hoping he will recuperate quickly and be able to return to the rehab clinic in the near future. Please continue praying.

Kli Yakar Genesis: Noach

Deadly Letter of the Law

Antediluvian man was apparently really bad. All sense of fair play had broken down to the point where the healthy functioning of society collapsed. Murder, illicit relations and idol worship were commonplace.

The Kli Yakar quotes the above from Rabbinic tradition. He also cites that the doom of the generation of The Flood was sealed because of the relatively minor sin of theft. And not just any theft – miniscule theft. The theft of items worth less than a ‘prutah’ (the modern equivalent of a penny, or maybe a nickel if you count a few thousand years of inflation).

What was so horrible, so catastrophic of such minor theft that warranted the destruction of all of human civilization?

The Kli Yakar explains that it was actually an attitude of righteousness. The theft of less than a ‘prutah’ does not require prosecution. It is too small a value to bother the courts with. Therefore the thief is legally innocent. These penny ante criminals were smug in the knowledge that they had outsmarted the system. They did nothing wrong. They were just below the radar of justice. They were within the letter of the law.

It seems this really angers God. These characters, these righteous thieves, upset God more than murderers, adulterers and idol-worshippers. Thanks to these weasels, God destroyed the planet.

May we be spared from such righteous people and remember to follow the spirit of the law.

Shabbat Shalom,



To Brad Rubin on his swearing-in ceremony to the Paratroopers of the Israel Defense Forces. Each soldier is issued his gun and his Tanach (Bible) at the event in front of the Western Wall. The whole occasion was moving and gives me great hope for the future.

Please pray for the complete and speedy recovery of an old friend, Hanoch ben Devorah, who just had surgery for the removal of a brain tumor and is recovering in ICU in Pittsburgh.

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