Two views of moral behavior, one from the source, and one from an English divine:
God: Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15)
A priest in England: It is far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than turn to ‘prostitution, mugging or burglary’.
It is true that, under Jewish law, Jews in extremis are allowed to violate God’s rules. The doctrine, known as “pikuach nefesh,” literally translates as “saving of human life.” During the Holocaust, for example, rabbis explicitly told fellow Jews that they could violate kosher laws rather than starve to death. Significantly, however, pikuach nefesh is not a free pass for immorality. Instead, it must apply on a case by case basis, and the person to whom it applies must indeed be facing a mortal threat.
When an Anglican priest throws out wholesale advice to parishioners that it’s okay to go out and shoplift, and then justifies that advice it by saying that “God’s love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich,” he is not practicing pikuach nefesh. He is practicing redistribution of wealth.Email This Post To A Friend
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