Naso – Shlishi

Punitive Damages

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d told Moshe to have the Jews send out from the camp anyone unclean from tzaraas, a discharge or corpse uncleanliness. (See Shemini, Tazria and Metzora for a refresher course on the various types of ritual impurity.) The people did as they were instructed.

Next, G-d had Moshe address the Jews, telling them that anyone who wrongs his fellow man also wrongs G-d. Oral confession is a necessary part of the repentance process and the person must repay whatever he misappropriated, adding 20% as a penalty. If the victim has died and has no heirs, the money should be given to the kohein when he offers his guilt offering.

The offerings that the people give the kohanim – called “terumah” – become their personal property.

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