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NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"You must not abuse or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20).

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"You must not abuse or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20).

You are a high school freshman having a great time. You have worked hard to make your way into the popular crowd, and finally you have managed to break into that impenetrable clique. Today you're kicking back with your friends, when all of a sudden your eye spots the New Kid coming in your direction. The New Kid has just arrived from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and he's trying his best to get into the popular crowd. The problem, however, is that no one likes him, and most of your friends would probably carry their dislike a step further than that. You happen to think that he is actually a nice guy, but stating your opinion would get you a one-way ticket off the wrestling team and into the National Geek Society. As the New Kid approaches with his hand raised in greeting, you know that you will have to make a decision. Three options suddenly develop in the deeper recesses of your brain:

a) Take the New Kid and stuff him in a trashcan.

b) Declare, "No hava anglais," and return triumphantly to your amigos.

c) Say, "Hi, Maurice, it's good to see you," and introduce him to the group.

In this week's portion, the Torah commands us not to treat converts in a bad way. We usually feel most comfortable around others who are like us, such as those who come from the same country, city, neighborhood, and ethnic group that we are from. However, the Torah is telling us never to forget that we were once in the New Kid's place when we were slaves in Egypt, and even though we may feel uncomfortable reaching out to a newcomer, that is no excuse for us to abuse and hurt someone else. Just because he's not part of our clique of friends does not mean that we can treat him like an animal. Every person is created in the image of Hashem, and we must treat every human being with the proper decency and respect.

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