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    Other peoples’ holy things – Emor

    Chapter 22:15 of Vayikra tells us not to “profane the holy things of the Children of Israel”. Naturally the verse has to be read in context, but it also has a wider application. It suggests the need for reverence. Things which are central and sacred for Judaism must not be treated lightly or disrespectfully.

    The rule is addressed to Jews, who must not belittle or mock their own heritage. It also conveys a message about how to treat other people’s holy things. In our eyes the sancta of other religions are erroneous, but we have a moral duty to respect other people’s consciences and commitments.

    What they hold to be holy is the result of their set of historical circumstances. They did not live through our history and we did not live through theirs. Or if we did on occasions share the same historical moments we each interpreted them differently.

    The fact that they have often tended to denigrate what is sacred to us does not entitle us to reciprocate.

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