Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 5:25 pm and ends on Saturday night at 6:24 pm. The weekly Torah portion is Shoftim.

Mincha in the CBD: We will seek to resume mincha at L2/430 Lt Collins once we emerge from this latest lockdown *deep sigh*. We will advise when the Thursday mincha at 1.50pm (following shiur & lunch at 1.00pm) at L1 Capital will resume. Join the the WhatsApp group to stay across the latest details.

Study: The Weekly Shiur continues on Wednesday at 1:10pm online. Current study: terminology needed to establish paid vs unpaid custodianship. Details here.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Rabbi Dovid Gutnick. On the 25th of February 1956, Nikita Khrushchev, then Secretary of the Communist Party delivered his famous ‘secret speech’ which for the first time sharply criticized Joseph Stalin. In a secret seven-hour speech in the Politburo, Khrushchev chronicled the crimes of Stalin. He depicted Stalin as a monster who had launched terror campaigns against every citizen of Russia and derailed the Soviet Union off its ‘noble’ course.

Almost no questions or challenges were raised during this speech save one interjection. In the midst of his speech, a party member yelled out from the back of the chamber: “And Nikita Khrushchev, where were you when all this was going on?”

Khrushchev looked up and shot back, pounding the podium: “Who said that? I demand to know who said these words! Stand up!” The entire hall fell silent. No one moved. Khrushchev said, “Comrade, that’s where I was.”

There is this somewhat obscure and puzzling Torah law in this week’s Torah reading. the law of Eglah Arufah (Devarim 21). When a murdered traveller is found out in the field, the elders of the nearest city must go out there and conduct a ceremony to atone for the crime, even though it occurred “outside of their jurisdiction”.

The classical commentators point out that although these leaders obviously didn’t commit the crime, and although the crime occurred outside of their jurisdiction, the community and its leaders are still responsible for they should have endeavoured to support all travellers passing through the area ‘with adequate provision and protection’ (Talmud Sotah 45a)

What an extraordinary degree of social responsibility! It seems the Torah is telling me as a leader and community member that the occurrence of a social failing, crisis of shortfall – despite it being “outside our jurisdiction”, is my responsibility.

The next time the fetid stench of a decaying society wafts into your nostrils and the inclination to bewail this sorrowful state in the great hollow halls of social media or check out and go off the grid altogether, consider the echoes of the eternal question: “and where are you while all this is going on?”

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