"Do Not Turn Away..."

“Do not turn away from your own flesh” (Isaiah 58:7)

All of us aspire to have those ideal families which we read about in stories, but all too often our families fall quite short of this ideal. We may disdain our family members, hold grudges against them and dread the thought of family gatherings. We often find that we are there for total strangers before our own family members.

The Talmud Yerushalmi teaches us of the importance of keeping loyalty and giving priority to one’s kin. Rabbi Yossi Hagelili’s ex-wife re-married a man who could not make ends meet and as result of his anger and frustration would beat and degrade her. Upon learning of this, Rabbi Yossi Hagelili provided for them for the rest of their lives because of the verse: “Do not turn away from your own flesh” (Isaiah 58:7). (Kethuboth 11:3)

Rabbi Yossi HaGelili’s ex-wife, is no longer his wife and the wife’s husband had never even been related to him. Yet Rabbi Yossi HaGelili’s provisions for them are quite lavish and generous. Familial bonds, whether by prior relation or by mere association cannot easily be dissolved!

The prohibition to turn away from a relative is a negative commandment precluding one from letting one’s kin fall, but we see from Rabbi Yossi HaGelili’s actions that it is more than that. It is the imperative to act with good heart towards our kin.

May the commandment of “Do not turn away” compel us not just to aspire for ideal families as mere nice-to-have, but to actually attain them as must-haves!

Michael Linetsky is the director of the Talmud Yerushalmi Institute If you would like to receive these postings your mailbox when they become available, please email {encode="througheyesoftalmudyerushalmi@gmail.com" title="througheyesoftalmudyerushalmi@gmail.com"}