Forums Jews and Judaism Corporal Works of Mercy and Jewish tradition on Isaiah 58:6-7 (Mitzvaot)?

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    • Mark LaPointe
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      Are there Rabbinic traditions related to Isaiah 58:6-7, turning it into a list of Mitzvot? Here is the passage:
      Is this not rather the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (Isaiah 58:6-7)

      It is set in the middle of verses where God is saying, through the prophet, that fasting with lack of love is not what He wants, and it gives a list of ways to help one’s neighbor. The direction I am trying to pursue is whether this passage has ever been identified for Mitzvah/Mitzvot like the Catholic tradition has done for Matthew 25:34-44, which is very similar, talking about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, etc. I have been researching the Catholic list for Corporal Works of Mercy and want to find out if the above passage has a similar theological tradition of being identified and then turned into a cultural tradition and recommended to those who wish to please God? For example, Catholic children learn the Corporal Works of Mercy (and the parallel Spiritual Works of Mercy) in grade school, and often have to do service projects related to such lesson materials.

    • geocon
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      The passage is a part of the liturgy for Yom Kippur, the yearly ritual observance when Jews fast. They are criticized by Isaiah for taking advantage of others who work on that day, and work for them. and so maybe even for a profit, while they themselves don’t work. This is the essence of the idea behind the sabbath.

      In this vein, you ask about something similar to the Catholic practice of conducting corporeal acts of mercy. This may be associated with the Jewish practices that stem from the ten commandments, honor thy parents, love thy God before any other, etc. As these two traditions continue to further refine the strands of their common origination, God, like two spiraling DNA cords – periodically intersecting and straying from each other – there are moments when one needs the positivity of the one to match up with the positivity of the other to bear fruit. I will continue to look for more explicit lists of mitzvahs, even as I expand my understanding of the Ten Commandments, which seems an essential list to start with. But another place is the practice of keeping the sabbath day, and even inviting the prophet Elijah with a physical empty chair, on the Passover seder, emphasizing another practice of inviting others to the table.

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