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Mishpatim: Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh: Spiritual Roots: Mitzvot 63-64 – Concepts 502-503



“You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20) You may not cheat a sincere convert monetarily. You may not insult or harm a sincere convert with words. (Rambam, Hilchot Mechirah – The Laws of Sales)

Rashi says that if a Jew were to remind the stranger of his idolatrous past, he has to be prepared to be reminded by the stranger of his own unsalutary past.

Ibn Ezra says that we must remember that we were once no better than the stranger.

Nachmanides disagrees with both these interpretations and says that we must remember that God will respond to the oppressed just as He responds to our own outcries when warranted.

Once we remind ourselves that the souls of the Jewish people are the very root of sanctity, seeing that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their offspring were part of God’s heritage, we can understand that Jews do not react to insults heaped upon them by idol worshippers.

As a result the Torah saw fit to tell us why we must not remind strangers of their idolatrous past. We are not to tell such people that they are rooted in the domain of Klipot, that their intrinsic worth is inferior.

When the Torah reminds us that we were strangers in Egypt it reminds us that while the Jewish people resided in Egypt their own souls were mired deeply in the same moral morass that the souls of the Egyptians found themselves in. (Ohr Hachaim HaKodesh)

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