The mitzvah of equal treatment


This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tetse, contains a large number of diverse mitzvot, but many of them circle around a common theme: treating those we encounter equally. From the laws of returning lost objects to the requirement to use honest weights and measures, these mitzvot ask us to hold ourselves to a fixed standard of behavior whether we are interacting with a relative, a neighbor, a stranger, or even an enemy. It is a human tendency to act most favorably with those who are similar to ourselves, but Torah calls us to work against that tendency by acting ethically with all people – those we know and those we don’t, those we understand and those who puzzle us, those who support us and those who may oppose us. We have an obligation to interact equitably with every human being of every shape and size since each, without exception, is created in the image of God. As we face toward the New Year, we need to remind ourselves of this essential guideline for our behavior, especially in a election season in which the emphasis is often put on highlighting differences between us instead of our common humanity. May we continually work to hold ourselves to a higher standard and to fulfill the mitzvah of equal treatment for all in every act we take.