Torah For Today: This week: Looting and violence
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Analysis

Torah For Today: This week: Looting and violence

Rabbi Zvi Solomons takes a topical issue and looks at Jewish texts for a response

Rabbi Zvi Solomons
A protester throws a smoke device at police during a protest over the death of George Floyd who died while in police custody, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Atlanta. The protests were part of a demonstration against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
A protester throws a smoke device at police during a protest over the death of George Floyd who died while in police custody, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Atlanta. The protests were part of a demonstration against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The unlawful killing of George Floyd has caused mayhem and distress, at the time of the act and in its aftermath.

Nobody who has seen pictures – or worse, videos – of the poor man choking slowly to death for more than eight minutes can be in any doubt as to the evils of police brutality.

There are indeed minorities in our society whose oppression by the police and the authorities present not only bad memories, but
actual distress.

The movement to protest is therefore natural. It is indeed a natural human right. What has come alongside the protest is not.

Destruction of property is a fundamental breach of the law. So is killing or injuring people in the name of protest.

That we have seen bicycles thrown at police horses in Whitehall, police officers and others injured in violence carried out in the name of protest, disgraces the perpetrators.

This is also a time of pandemic, and the lives of those killed by coronavirus are no less precious than any others.

The rabbis maintained that whatever one thinks of it dina d’medina dina, the law of the state (you live in) is law.

As Pirkei Avot reminds us: “Rabbi Chanania the assistant to the High Priest said: “Pray for the welfare of the government, for were it not for the fear that it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbour alive.’”

It is heartening to note the many instances to be found on social media of black protestors protecting lives and property.

Let us stand with oppressed people in solidarity, but also show our appreciation to those who have risked their lives to prevent others from “swallowing their neighbour alive” in a rush to break down law and order.

  •   Rabbi Zvi Solomons serves the Jewish Community of Berkshire, JCoB in Reading
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