Kenneth Cohen

Jews Must Care for One Another

The case of the עגלה ערופה, the calf whose neck is broken, should be given greater attention. The focus should be on lessons learned, rather than the ceremony itself.
The ceremony of taking a calf near a specific river, in the presence of the elders of Israel, is difficult to understand. What we do know is that an impression must be made on the masses, for the tragedy of an abandoned Jew, who is brutally murdered by criminals.

There needed to be collective responsibility for not caring. When the body is found, they measure which city is closest to the corpse. They were the ones with direct liability for allowing this individual to leave their city without protection.
We must be reminded that the Jewish people are really a family nation. We must feel the pain of every Jew wherever they are. Jews must care about one another and be considerate of one another. This is known as Ahavat Yisrael, where we love every Jew.

In Masechet Shabbat, there are clear instructions as to how each specific city, had special charity funds to feed the poor. They also needed to make provisions for poor people passing through the city.

They needed to give food and lodging to a total stranger. When he continued his journey, he was supplied with food while he traveled. Such an attitude would prevent this sense of abandonment, and they would give directions to take a safe route, to avoid danger. In short, we clearly learn that Jews must care for one another.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at