Parashat Ki Tetze

Compassion That Can Bring Messiah

It all begins with how we treat animals.

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Why should this be so? Perhaps because acts that bespeak an enlightened spirit are inherently Messianic. The example here is of sending away the mother bird; but this is implicitly true of all acts of compassion. A person can be compassionate only by putting aside self-concern and considering the total situation of which he or she is a part. This holistic awareness will be fully attained during the Messianic era.

The spirit that moves us to behave in a sensitive and caring manner is an extension of that revolution in human consciousness. Thus, the Midrash enjoins us to bring the Messiah by becoming attuned to this spirit and allowing it to inspire our actions. Then, to paraphrase the words of our Sages (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat, 151b), the Merciful One will surely have mercy on those who are merciful.

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Rabbi Dovid Sears

Rabbi Dovid Sears is the author of The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism (Orot 2003) among other Judaica works.