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    Widows, orphans & Levi Yitzchak – Mishpatim

    The sidra has a verse about widows and orphans – kol almanah v’yatom lo t’anu, “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan” (Ex. 22:21).

    It is said that when Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev came to this verse he burst out crying.

    He turned to God and said, “Master of the Universe! On countless occasions the Torah demands in Your name, ‘Do not afflict the orphan’.

    “We do our best to live by this principle, but what about You?

    “The Book of Lamentations says (Echah 5:1-3), ‘Remember, O Lord, what has happened to us. We have become orphans and fatherless; our mothers are like widows’.

    “God, don’t You care about Your people? Why don’t You obey Your own commandment and redeem Your orphan children from exile?”

    Jewish history loves Levi Yitzchak, but I wonder whether anyone has tried to work out what God might have said to him when they conversed in the afterlife.

    Would God have rebuked the rabbi for his presumptuousness and said, “Levi Yitzchak, tell me – who runs the universe, you or Me?”

    Or would He have said, “Thank you, Levi Yitzchak, for reminding Me that I have a covenant with Israel, and not even my greatness and ineffability should stand in the way of My fulfilling my side of the agreement”?

    Amongst our great Jewish writers there must be one who can picture the Heavenly conversation and fashion it into a book.

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