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Torah Reading:  Deuteronomy 21:10 to 25:19
Haftarah:  Isaiah 54: 1-10 (5th of 7 Haftarahs of consolation)

This week's parshah is the last of three weeks of parshahs that enumerate the laws that Moses gave shortly before his death, and this week's parshah contains more laws than any other parshah in the Torah.  However, I am going to focus on just one of these laws contained in a mere two sentences.

Last May I wrote the D'var Torah diary for the end of Leviticus, commenting on the remarkable social legislation contained in chapter 25 of Leviticus:  

Every 50 years all land is restored to its original owners, and those who have sold themselves into a form of slavery to pay off their debts are freed.  Those buying and selling land do not buy and sell in perpetuity, rather, the land is merely leased until the next Jubilee year, with the price adjusted accordingly.  We are commanded to lend money to the needy to provide for their basic necessities, and not to charge them interest.  These debts are forgiven every seven years.
And I discussed several rabbinical sources, including from Leviticus Rabbah:  
God will punish those who have money who ask the needy, "Why don't you go out and find a job, make some money, and put your own bread on your table?"  Or who say, "Look at those hips, look at those legs, look at that fat body.  This person can work.  Let him work and take care of himself."  These people who mock the poor will bring evil on themselves, because they do not honor others who likewise are made in the image of God.
But the first comment made after the tip jar was:  
Verses 44 - 46 are pretty hard to take. (6+ / 0-)
44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
And my response:  
Agreed (8+ / 0-)
Hence the need for later authorities to smooth out these rough edges.  These verses were used during the Civil War by some Southern rabbis, and even one northern one, to justify slavery.
I have regretted my response ever since, and now is the chance to provide the response I should have given last May!

The traditional, fundamentalist if you will, Jewish view is that the Torah, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, was dictated by God to Moses, who faithfully took the dictation.  (The rabbis debated whether Moses or Joshua was the stenographer for the final sentences of Deuteronomy, which recounts the death of Moses.)  The modern view is that Deuteronomy was written separately, and later, than the four previous books of the Torah; however, the rabbis who compiled the Talmud obviously knew nothing of such theories.  For them, the entire Torah was a single unit, the words of God to Moses, and any law in Leviticus had to be read in conjunction with a similar law in Deuteronomy.  Thus, Leviticus 25: 44-46 must, under traditional Jewish theology, be read in concert with Deuteronomy 23: 16-17:  

You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may chose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases, you must not ill-treat him.
Thus, the Israelites were commanded that although they could buy and sell and bequeath slaves, and treat them as mere property, when a slave ran away, he or she must not be returned to their master, but, instead, be allowed to join the Israelite community, living wherever he or she pleased, with no mistreatment.

Unlike the Bible, the United States Constitution does not specifically mention slavery, but three clauses deal specifically with slavery, although not by name.  A majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not approve of slavery, but slavery was not their primary concern - forging a union was, and, to do so, they had to compromise, particularly with the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia who, according to a letter that Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson, serving as ambassador to France, "were inflexible on the point of slaves."  So, to secure the agreement of the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia, a majority of the delegates agreed to the following three clauses:  

Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.   Article I section 2, paragraph 3.
This was the infamous 3/5 clause.  The "direct taxes" language was meaningless - there were no "direct taxes" in 1787.  Representation was to be determined on the basis of the population of "free persons", including indentured servants - "those bound to service for a term of years."  "All other persons" meant slaves.  This did not mean that a black slave was 3/5 of a person. Delegates from free states did not want slaves to count at all; the southern aristocracy represented at the Constitutional Convention wanted them to count as whole people to augment their power in the new Congress.  The 3/5 Compromise was the result.

The second place slavery appears is at Article I Section 9:  

The migration or importation of such person as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.
This was the infamous African slave trade, the legal kidnapping of men, women and children out of Africa, cramming them onto slave ships on which so many died, those who survived became slaves in America and would never see their families in Africa again.  The Georgians and South Carolinians wanted this crime against humanity to remain legal forever, the other delegates did not, and this compromise was the result - it would be protected in the Constitution for 20 years, then Congress may outlaw it.  President Thomas Jefferson, to his everlasting credit, asked Congress to outlaw this obscenity effective the very day it would become constitutional to do so, and Congress did so.

The final place in the Constitution where slavery was euphemistically mentioned was the Fugitive Slave Clause, Article IV, Section 2, Para. 3:  

No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.
The total opposite of Deuteronomy 23: 16-17, which prohibits the runaway slave from being returned to his or her master.  If we accept the belief of the three Abrahamic faiths that Deuteronomy was a Divinely inspired writing, then we cannot accept the rantings of some Tea Baggers that the Constitution is as well, or, if both are Divinely inspired, then God must have changed His or Her mind during the three or however many millennia between Deuteronomy and the Constitution!

Four years after the ratification of the Constitution, Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, which authorized slave owners and their agents - slave catchers - to seize persons of color in a free state and haul them before a U.S. court, which would decide if the seized person was a runaway slave owned by the claimant.  A $500 fine, payable to the slave owner, was assessed against anyone harboring a runaway.  Thousands of bounty hunters earned their living catching alleged runaway slaves in free states.  Many states, including Pennsylvania, possibly motivated by Deuteronomy 23: 16-17, a "Higher Law" than the Constitution, enacted personal liberty laws making it a state crime to seize or attempt to remove a person of color, regardless of previous status, from the state back to slavery.  One person convicted of this crime was Edward Prigg, who seized an escaped slave, Margaret Morgan, and returned her to her owner in Maryland. Prigg appealed his conviction, and the Supreme Court, in Prigg v. Pennsylvania, reversed the conviction and held state personal liberty laws to be unconstitutional.  Justice Joseph Story, writing for the court, noted however that a state may forbid state officers and judges from assisting in the kidnapping, leaving the job solely to federal agents and federal judges.

Growing Northern resistance to cooperating with slave owners and bounty hunters led to calls for Secession.  Southerners knew that if the North became a sanctuary for slaves seeking freedom, slaves would continue to flee north and slavery would be doomed.  The result of these Southern demands and threats was the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, part of the Compromise of 1850, which exponentially "strengthened" the 1793 law.  Any federal marshal who did not arrest an alleged runaway on demand was to be fined $1,000.  If the alleged slave escaped after arrest, the marshal became personally liable to the alleged owner for the value of the slave.  Federal magistrates were appointed all over the North just to hear these cases.  The law banned jury trials, and the alleged slave was not permitted to testify.  The magistrates were paid $10 for each alleged slave they ordered sent south, but only $5 if the magistrate denied the slave owner's claim.  The magistrates were also authorized to appoint posses to make sure the alleged slave was returned to the slave states.

Northerners saw the law as oppressive and unconscionable, and many who had been on the fence as to abolition were now willing to assist slaves in their escapes - they were no longer safe in the Free States - they now had to flee all the way to Canada.  Nothing aroused the North more towards hatred of slavery and determination to resist the slave aristocracy than this law.  No incident more illustrated the incitement of the North than the successful attempt to kidnap Anthony Burns off the streets of Boston and return him to his owner in Virginia.  Riots broke out in a vain attempt to rescue Burns before a shackled Burns could be put onto a ship bound for Virginia and slavery.  President Millard Fillmore sent 8,000 soldiers - one-half of the entire United States Army which then numbered only 16,000 - to Boston so that this one man could be returned to slavery.

When secession came, a number of the Southern States offered Declarations of the Causes of Secession.  These declarations stand as irrefutable refutation of the current drive of Teabaggers to rewrite history.  From the Georgia Declaration:  

The Constitution declares that persons charged with crimes in one State and fleeing to another shall be delivered up on the demand of the executive authority of the State from which they may flee, to be tried in the jurisdiction where the crime was committed . . . yet for above twenty years the non-slave-holding States generally have wholly refused to deliver up to us persons charged with crimes affecting slave property.  Our confederates, with punic faith, shield and give sanctuary to all criminals who seek to deprive us of this property or who use it to destroy us. . . .

A similar provision of the Constitution requires them to surrender fugitives from labor. This provision and the one last referred to were our main inducements for confederating with the Northern States.  Without them it is historically true that we would have rejected the Constitution.  In the fourth year of the Republic Congress passed a law to give full vigor and efficiency to this important provision.  This act depended to a considerable degree upon the local magistrates in the several States for its efficiency. The non-slave-holding States generally repealed all laws intended to aid the execution of that act, and imposed penalties upon those citizens whose loyalty to the Constitution and their oaths might induce them to discharge their duty.  Congress then passed the act of 1850, providing for the complete execution of this duty by Federal officers.  This law, which their own bad faith rendered absolutely indispensible for the protection of constitutional rights, was instantly met with ferocious revilings and all conceivable modes of hostility. . . .  [I]t stands to-day a dead letter for all practicable purposes in every non-slave-holding State in the Union. . .   [T]he unfortunate claimant, even accompanied by a Federal officer with the mandate of the highest judicial authority in his hands, is everywhere met with fraud, with force, and with legislative enactments to elude, to resist, and defeat him.  Claimants are murdered with impunity; officers of the law are beaten by frantic mobs instigated by inflammatory appeals from persons holding the highest public employment in these States, and supported by legislation in conflict with the clearest provisions of the Constitution, and even the ordinary principles of humanity. . . .   It is difficult to perceive how we could suffer more by the hostility than by the fraternity of such brethren.

Imagine that, instead of the Fugitive Slave Clause, the Constitution contained the words of Deuteronomy 23: 16-17.  Imagine that the Constitution, rather than requiring slaves escaping into Free States be returned to their owners, instead required that no American be permitted to:
turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge . . . from his master.  He shall live with you in any place he may choose . . . wherever he pleases, he must not be ill-treated.
Yes, slavery would have been enshrined in the Constitution, just as it is enshrined in other parts of the Torah, but how long would slavery have lasted?  The South knew this; it was one of the reasons they launched the Civil War.

Shabbat Shalom

Originally posted to Elders of Zion on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 12:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, Anglican Kossacks, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks (19+ / 0-)

    Good job of pulling all of this together. You bring up a number of points which are often overlooked during the current historical revisionism.

    By the way, I've taken the liberty of republishing to History for Kossacks.

  •  Yasher Koach! (14+ / 0-)

    What a terrific drash.

    I think it's safe to say that slavery and other more limited forms of indentured servitude were ubiquitous around the Mediterranean and elsewhere during the time the Torah was composed. However, given our own history as slaves in the land of Egypt (I know it's debated vociferously whether or not our captivity is historical fact), we'd be prone to be ambivalent about slavery as a fact.

    It would seem as though the legal recognition of slavery is trumped by the commandment to shelter those who managed to escape from it. The ultimate result of course would be to encourage those who can escape to do so.

  •  Two questions... (4+ / 0-)

    Are the laws enumerated in the first five books of the bible given to man by a god or not?

    Are you saying that the legislators in the Southern states knew that slavery was ending because they were aware of Deuteronomy 23:16-17?  I know you used the term "imagine", but I don't see the connection between a biblical passage and the initiation of the Civil War.

    The founders never looked at or considered any religious texts when formulating the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    People certainly did not figure out that slavery was wrong because of the bible. They figured it out in spite of those texts. No matter how hard one tries to shoehorn the bible into the arena of morality on the slavery issue or jump on the bandwagon that churches led the way on overturning slavery, those texts stood in the way of justice for thousands of years.

  •  Excellent job of putting all of this (7+ / 0-)

    into perspective.


    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    by achronon on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 02:37:17 PM PDT

  •  A fine and thoughtful diary; thank you. n/t (7+ / 0-)
  •  It might have been better if the slaveholding (9+ / 0-)

    states had NOT ratified the Constitution.  Perhaps then slavery would not have spread the worst places for slaves were Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, which weren't even states at the creation of the United States...
    Glad to be reminded of those strikingly humane bits of Leviticus...I can remember a Torah reading in a service when I first heard them and was ready to jump up and shout!

    They that have power to hurt, and will do none

    by richardvjohnson on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 03:56:42 PM PDT

    •  Funny how those bits (6+ / 0-)

      aren't ever shouted by the right-wing christians, isn't it?

    •  lynx to histry of slavery in texas, louisiana,ala- (6+ / 0-)

      bama, and ..alaska...
      is pretty extensive.   pre-state anglo slave-owners are siad to circumvent spanish opposition to their slaveholding by forcing their slaves to sign lifetime indenture documents that suggest the beginning of the share-cropper/company-store system.  earlier in the article is discussion of native americans enslaved by the spanish, who seem to have taken slaves along the barbary coast of africa as well.  i had read years ago of moroccan slaves in england and france in the early 18th century but not how that happened.  the prevalence and persistence of eurocolonialist slavery is staggering.

      louisiana here

      alabama here (quite brief)

      no wik article specifically in mississippi, oddly.  

      have read that free people of color in non-American adjacent territories were constantly in danger of being kidnapped into slavery in america.  can't tell if it worked both ways.

      was surprised to find an article "history of slavery in alaska which ends

      In 1903 there were still documented cases of slavery in the state. Aleutian girls could be purchased by wealthy families to do the housework, and were often not allowed to participate in child play or become educated. These girls tended to come from the Atta Islands.[7]

      In 2001, four individuals were arrested for enslaving six Russian females, two of whom were only sixteen, for the purpose of having them perform in strip clubs, under threat of violence if they did not comply.[8]
      •  Slavery is still with us in many forms around (7+ / 0-)

        the world.  It's still common in parts of North Africa, particularly in the borderlands between the Arab world and darker peoples to the South.  And then of course there's so-called 'white slavery' everywhere.  Your links are very interesting, who would've thought of slavery in Alaska?  One egregious example of 'white slavery' - most of the ladies in brothels in Buenos Aires around 1900 at the height of Argentine prosperity were Jewish ladies from Eastern Europe.  So tango from its birth was part Spanish, part African, and part Judaic.

        They that have power to hurt, and will do none

        by richardvjohnson on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 05:15:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In a comment below (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue, Amber6541

          I point out that marriage in many places is a form of slavery.

          And I'll put in a plug for This Week in the War on Women.

          Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

          by ramara on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:41:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  a connection to judaic music in flamenco too? (0+ / 0-)

          i've seen a couple of travel programs about spain and jewish tourism materials of spain that mention jewish influences in flamenco.  have not previously heard of this jewish influence in tango but not surprising since it's obviously not G-rated.  can you expand on how these jewish women became brothel slaves?  or is there a website where i might read about it?  thnx for this sidebar, very compelling.

      •  Mexico's abolition of slavery in 1829 (4+ / 0-)

        (delayed for one year, until 1830 for Texas, was a primary cause, probably the major cause, of the Anglo uprising known as the Texas War for Independence.  Link here.  This is something they don't teach in schools, least of all, I suspect, in Texas.  The truth is that the Texan American slaveholders launched two wars to keep their slaves, in 1835, and in 1861.

        "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

        by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 05:44:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yeah, John Wayne in a movie means it MUST (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Navy Vet Terp, Amber6541

          be true...   Nationalistic egomania puzzles me; isn't it more interesting and instructive to know that a nation/people err and stumble complexly in growing more conscience & acting on it and becoming a light unto other nations than to worship idols of shallow simple fantasy?  some local scottish-dance friends once asked me why i insisted on seeing national heroes like geo washington warts & all, why not ignore flaws and celebrate greatness?  not sure they understood my saying that miracles are normal for g-ds, but heroism by real human beings ---despite their realistic fears, vulnerabilitys, weaknesses, limited resources, aloneness, anger of others who disagree--- is way harder to rise to and way more to celebrate.  ah well...

    •  I'm afraid (3+ / 0-)

      that slavery would have been spread westward in any case, just not by the US. Anyone moving west could take slaves with him, and the Confederate constitution specifically states that slavery will not be banned in any territory in the future.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:31:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  American slave trade was especially pernicious (7+ / 0-)

    even when compared to other more ancient societies.  For example, in the Roman Empire, a slave could not only hope for freedom (and Romans were brutal masters) but even could aspire to citizenship (albeit did not happen very often)

    In antebellum Southern states, while a slave could be freed by his master, the former slave remained in a sort of existential limbo, no longer chattel but yet not human since he was denied citizenship under any circumstances

  •  thanks (6+ / 0-)

    Wouldn't it be a better world if all clerics preached the tone and the content of your shabbat lessons?  Christianity and Islam consider the 5 books sacred--yet all 3 religions have pols who spout deliberate misreadings.  The worst offenses are done in the name of our Lord--with support from His ministers--leaving us to deal with many hells on earth.

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

    by melvynny on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:00:50 PM PDT

    •  if the word was never "lord" but teacher or (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      whaddaya, ramara

      guide or companion, that might have made things a lot different from the getgo.  in english, power statuses ("our king", etc) are rotunely how deity is referred to, and devastating hierarchies of power in the human realm are associated, at the top, with "divine right" to decide who lives or dies and in what conditions.  Might be interesting to see what kinds of earthbound terms other belief systems use for their deities.

    •  Thanks for the good word n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ramara, mettle fatigue

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 05:47:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, compromise and 13 dimensional chess (5+ / 0-)

    bronze age Palestine style! :P  I dunno, if the books are divinely inspired, then I think it may be safe to say that God might, I dunno, just not say that people could be property under any circumstances?

    But, if it's not divinely inspired, it's a political story meant to sway people's behavior and control them through deference to the "holiness" of the book.  Either way still morally repugnant.  

    You're insight is intriguing.  I think what would have happened if there were that Deutoronomy clause in the Constitution the South would never have ratified it in the first place.  It blatantly undermines their economic strategy.  Who knows?  Maybe the North and South would have had border wars and skirmishes at the outset, and an all out war would've come sooner?  

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:10:09 PM PDT

  •  Wonderful drosh. (5+ / 0-)

    You bring together so many threads so skillfully, and give us lots to think about. Many thanks.

    And of course there are contradictions in Torah. We are not taught to believe unquestioningly, and these contradictions are a good place to begin questioning.

    Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

    by ramara on Fri Aug 16, 2013 at 07:44:15 PM PDT

  •  can you B mor specific re: "teabagger [drive] to (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JDsg, mkor7, whaddaya, Neon Mama, ramara

    rewrite history" mentioned in your 19th paragraph (not counting blockquotes).  

    The history lesson you provided is well worth reading, but my attention was very caught by that phrase, which suggests there's also an argument being made about a particular theme in reactionary politics today that's alluded to without being summarized.

    I don't live in the south but somewhere else where the local voting majority identifies strongly republican including a considerable teaparty element, surprisingly many of whom here are not from the south nor were their forebears [that they seem to know of].  My general observation is that noncultually-rooted reactionary leanings of that kind are emotional at base, fear about various issues as harbingers of personal loss to come,  including in ha'olam ha'baa - their concept of deity seems to be of a g-d far more forgiving toward rich and famous evildoers than toward ordinary folk trudging 'thu working life making what concessions to evil that they must in order to take care of their families.  So i'm interested in what revisionist narrative about slavery has become entwined in the rhetoric of the reactionary right because i haven't heard any as yet.

    On a tangent, the history of slavery from prehistory 'thru today is a global phenomenon as inseparable from war and conquest as from economic depravity, but where the world languages of tanakh, talmud, responsa, and other ancient, feudal, medieval and renaissance contexts are concerned, the word "slave" may be used as a modern english translation for concepts of dependence and of servitude unknown today.  The 3/5 clause specifically excludes bonded/indentured servants but it does them no actual service.  Article I Section 9 and Article IV Sec 2 Para 3 are less euphemistic than they are opportunistic: the control of human beings by a more powerful human being for purposes of indecent profit, by keeping for himself as much as possible of the value of the laborer's work, is as ubiquitous thru'out human history as crime is.  For us to assume that seventeenth century American plutocrats were as a rule more 'advanced' than the plutocrat colonialists of that era would be to compliment them far beyond their deserts.

    To put it in popular terms, when the song "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof says, "At three I started Hebrew School / at ten I learned a trade," the latter line refers to becoming apprenticed, which was a staple of jewish communities worldwide possibly before skilled working people in medieval england (england being the U.S.'s initial law source) began developing the guild system as a means by which crafts and trades and the people who practiced them could create and hold value independent of feudal land-vassalage in which each lord wholly owned a demesne comprised the farmlands, forests, villages, machineries and manors within his borders (including churches and the 'jobs' in them, which is how English lords held church appointments "in their gift" by which they controlled the ideas expressed from the pulpit on the local level) AND the nonfreeborn people under his dominion whose skills were as much the lord's property for use at his discretion as were their bodies and their homes.

    (Yeomen within the lord's borders owed specified obligations in exchange for the lord's protections, but their bodies and their freedom of movement were their own to determine otherwise... except for their women, who were of course subject to the determinaton of the nearest male next of kin/guardian.)

    It is obviously no coincidence that "lord" is a word often used in liturgy and canon to mean g-d.  Throughout human history a hierarchy of power, without reference to any notion of natural human rights, is far more longlived and pervasive than is that notion.

    Returning to apprentices as relevant to the perpetuation of ownership of the human body and its labor, apprentices were a particular type of bond slave (some languages distinguish between "servant" and "slave", others are less clear or consistent, understandably so since the levels of subordination as we understand them today are hypersimplified in comparison to the levels of subordination that have existed throughout human history) paying their labor in exchange for the training ---& housing, food, shelter, etc, minimal at best) that might actually be provided and might actually result in their eventually becoming free journeymen in their trade if they survived that long, possibly even masters some day, owning permanent leases of land/buildings in which to house and utilize the machineries of their trade and their own apprentices and their own hired journeymen.  

    Guilds in effect liberated labor to be a basis of value where previously possession of property of various kinds --currency made of valueable metals, human property in the form of landbound peasants, etc-- was the sole basis of value.

    Guild/craft apprenticeships also perpetrated the concept of unpaid and underpaid low-skilled and medium-skilled labor in exchange for that minimal housing, clothing, food, and whatever little else might be deemed necessary for survival enough for the master's investment in the 'prentice to pay off.

    Slavery, and servitude in which a human being voluntarily or involuntary loses determination over his or her own body and activities, is not an on/off button, or a then/now exchange with a clean-cut line in between.  By some estimates, 27 million humans alive today are enslaved.  Most of them are what 'white' Americans would probably call "not white".  More millions work in nearly slave-like conditions to provide the portable computers and smartphones and sneakers and food and clothes and home furnishings that many Americans are fully accustomed to enjoy briefly and then discard in favor of the next fancier model, thereby contributing to the gassy smoking mountains of 'landfill' that some thirdworld countries make their living by selling land for that dumping, and scavenging from those toxic refuse dumps is the sole source of barter materials by which many of their citizens survive.

    That's slavery too.  So is homelessness and poverty and privitized prisons crammed full of under-educated people deprived of the skills to earn a living wage by legal means and jobs enough for them to have, the shames and scandals of this "great" nation.  Let's not get too comfortably outraged over the fantasy that America eliminated slavery in the 19th century despite how dilatory and opposed some Americans were then.  We are still enjoying the proceeds of slavery today, we simply don't have to look it in the face or see it beyond the highway as often.

    •  Big topic today (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Navy Vet Terp, mettle fatigue

      with more and more summer jobs for students being unpaid internships, so students who can afford not to get paid get professional experience in their future career, while those needing to work for money end up at McDonald's. Concern is beginning to be felt.

      As I recall, craftsmen were paid by the families of the apprentices to pay for the teaching.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 07:06:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  paymt for apprenticeships varied from culture to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara, Amber6541

        culture, place to place, time to time, from what i read in past years.  if in jewish communities a craftsman was paid by the family, it might protect the child/apprentice from abuse.   personal as well as workplace abuse of 'prentices by master craftsman (and master/mistress craftswomen, to be fair) and their journeymen (ibid) seems to have been endemic from medieval thru pre-industrial eras especially upon kids from families of caste below tradesmen, and the abuse in the early factory era a carryover of that.  wars & plagues especially bereft kids of protective family & resources, nowhere else to go if abused, nowhere to complain if used as menial service labor by master without actually being taught gainful craft.  have read that freeborn medieval peasants in england were required to pay bond to master to get their kids apprenticed due to assumption the peasant class too innately stupid for their kids to turn out remunerative of the master's valuable efforts/time/money to train & house them - peasants have essentially zero money, freeborn peasants could indenture themselves in order to get the $ to pay the bond & hope they might live long enough for their kid as a journeyman to buy them free again.  assuming the kid survived being a prentice.  in wool trades, the lowest caste prentices and journeymen often died young due to respiratory effects of inhaled fluff from the most basic scutwork handling fleeces.  other trades in medieval & renaissance involved other health hazards.  but of course the research into boots-on-the-ground daily life and economy must be more detailed & documented than back when i read this stuff.

    •  I'm inclined to quibble (4+ / 0-)

      with "That's slavery too."

      There are many, many ways to exploit and demoralize people and keep them as an underprivileged class.  Slavery is only one of them, and it is a term with a very specific set of meanings, and it just isn't accurate to say that homelessness and poverty are slavery, even if they have many of the same effects.

      You don't have to call something slavery to say that it's exploitative and demoralizing and morally indefensible.

      •  Mordechai Kaplan's reconstructionist haggaddah (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Batya the Toon

        contains ideas about slavery that have stayed with me all these years.  

        so you may have a point that since llaw is not directly what constrains the impoverished, homeless, etc to... well... stay in struggling, miserable suffering, and since no one is standing over them with weapons to enforce the the situation, then, yes, i guess 'slavery' could be considered more a metaphor as i used.

        it's worth keeping in mind, tho', that not the effects alone of homelessness and poverty, but also how people may get put there [using that phrasing intentionally, rather than 'how they ended up there] kind of narrows the distinction between metaphor and literality.  not erases it, i grant you, but tightens it considerabell.

        thnx for the exchange.  looking at things from varying viewpoints opens ideas up to more detailed exploration.

        •  I have never read that one and possibly should. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue
          •  i can't find any early editions online, only the (0+ / 0-)

            ones that are softcover with an undistinguished photo on the front.  for years i had a hardcover 1946 edition (remarkable - revised right after the holocaust - mindblowing...) given to me at birth, but i stupidly lent it to a relative some years ago so it's gone...   ~sigh~ my collection of haggadot is probably 2/3 radical, liberal, feminist, experimental, a few israeli, some with art emphasis (Ben Shahn, wows) etc, the rest largely traditional in maxwell-house and other formats plus some for kids.  i wish i knew an entity to will it to, that would value the collection & keep it intact, maybe add to a greater full-spectrum hagada collection.

            well heck, i thought i bookmarked last year the used judaica in-home shop of an orthodox ABA member in the bay area somewhere, after reading a terrific online article about him, but when i tried to find it just now, it's nowhere in my computer nor my hardcopy addr book.  there were some modest things i'd hoped to pull some kesef together to ask him to find for me.

            what the paperback edition[s] are like in content compared to the 1940s editions, i don't know, 'tho certainly hoping as wonderful.  this seems to show some of the hardcover illustrations including cover & a lot of the other hagadot illos are familiar to me, some in my coll'n.

            there are other hagadot entitled "American..." and "New American..." - the editors of this reconstructionist haggadah are variously:

            Kaplan, Mordecai (or mordechai)  [amazing
                   philosophical journey 1881-1983, some stops along
                   the way of which being chuckle-worthy due to
                   some affilations some of my forebears shared but
                   wow with what differing trajectories]
            Kohn, Eugene
            Eisenstein, Ira

            if you find a good edition, i envy you that first experience with this material.  [when doing the seders with family, when my turn to read in english, i used to substitute the word "ancestors" instead of "forefathers" and enjoy seeing out of the corner of my eye so many faces around the table get confused for a moment.  the instant my father died, all serious judaic commitment in the family went quite slack and even 'tho there were 3 remaining of that greatest generation, they were all female and the respect previously accorded to their extemporaneous contributions went right out the window.  i battled it all the years i was able to make the 300mile roundtrip drive to 'family' seder but the newly acquired sons-in-law of my cousins were so indulged in their superficialities and self-aggrandizements just to make sure they'd attend at all that it all pretty much went to pot, and it became an agonizing experience.  at the time my mother and another of the eldest passed away, my disabilites had become so severe as a result of caregiving on top of previous injuries, that i had been having to make difficult and realistically unaffordable arrangements to be brought to the family seders, i couldn't drive that kind of distance on my own. at the point when the 1 remaining 'matriarch' drastically escalated her long-standing habit of doing me dirt for her profit and her daughter-in-law colluded, i stopped going at all.  why throw pearls before swine... i put together seder observances for local friends for a while but i'm long past it now.  still, pesach remains for me the key chag.  well anyway, good hunting.

  •  on a humorous note, fulltext of the Fugitive Slave (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    whaddaya, RiveroftheWest, ramara

    Act of 1793 is down for maintenance.

    •  note: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mettle fatigue

      Government website down until Monday morning. Will try to remember to check them out then.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:35:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  thou shalt not steal (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your thought provoking diary, which reminded me of a question.

    Question:  The 10 Commandments includes the admonition:
    "Neither shall you steal" (NRSV)   Does this refer to slavery?  Or is human kidnapping considered something else?  
    Thanks for the help.  

    •  Well, coveting (3+ / 0-)

      applies to one's neighbor's wife as well as his other goods, so adultery would be a form of theft, I suppose.

      Let's remember that marriage in many parts of the world is still literally slavery, with wives being bought and having no rights.

      Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

      by ramara on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 02:38:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kidnapping (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JDsg, ramara, mettle fatigue, Amber6541

      Exodus 21:16.

      He who kidnaps a man, whether he has sold him or is still holding him, shall be put to death.
      Deuteronomy 24:7.  
      If a man is found to have kidnapped a fellow Israelite, enslaving him or selling him, that kidnapper shall die, thus you will sweep out evil from your midst.
      Note that the verse from Exodus, calls for the death penalty for all kidnappers, regardless of whether the victim is an Israelite, and regardless of whether the victim has been sold.  Rashi wrote that the 8th Commandment "You shall not steal" refers to kidnapping, stealing a person to be a slave.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 06:00:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Parthenia, so glad u asked about that! as soon (0+ / 0-)

        as i read it i was thinking, "hey, yeah, what ABOUT that, huh?"  but it appears all bets are off where captives of war are concerned, both i guess captive combatants and non-combatant families/villages of the designated enemies, otherwise 'shalt not kill' would equally have prevented more warring, if it as applicable. 'tho i've never been clear if in hebrew it's actually 'not murder', or what.  can't mean 'not kill animals' or we'd be vegetarian...

        •  In Hebrew it is "do not murder." (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TiaRachel, mettle fatigue

          The verb is ratzach, not harag (which latter is a more general term for killing).

          And yes, captives of war aren't considered kidnap victims, just as casualties of war aren't considered murder victims.

          •  thnx, i appreciate your explaining (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Batya the Toon

            there's so much that's too easy to forget once the ability to continue being involved is no longer possible.  about halfway along in life, i struck me that the dibrot are the basic "how to have a community" technical manual.  g-d is the benchmark, whether the individual believes in the metaphysical or not.  would like to be clearer but can't at the moment.  anyway, 10q.

            •  welcome! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mettle fatigue

              And I think you definitely have something there, about the dibrot being "how to have a community"; the same could be said about the 7 Noahide laws.  The main difference is that the Noahide laws also include one basic anti-animal-cruelty law and one general injunction to have some form of a court system, both of which are missing from the dibrot but covered elsewhere in the Torah.

              •  10Q! found link in wikipedia (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Navy Vet Terp, Batya the Toon

                my brain will be empty at this rate in a few years but at least the ride will be interesting.  as i commented somewhere else, the great thing about forgetfulness is that you get an endless supply of 'new', interesting information and always-funny jokes.

                found link!!!:

                any others you could point me to without going to trouble?

                the differences are kind of fascinating.  i always wonder what approximate eras/dates the linguistics and textual analysis suggest with topics like this (well, with all topics, really, cultural maturation is amazing stuff), but of course there's no way to know how many rewrites by various sources occurred.

                and it's only monday!

                thnx again, greatly appreciated.

        •  war (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mettle fatigue

          War does seem to cancel all our social norms.

      •  Thank you for pointing out the context (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Navy Vet Terp

        Thank you for connecting the dots with Exodus 21:16 and Deut. 24:7.   I had not realized that  the 8th commandment is part of a larger sentence that refers to capital crimes, as explained by the other quotes.  Context matters.    

        You are a good teacher.  Thank you.

  •  Nice try but (0+ / 0-)

    it doesn't add up with other Bible verses.

    In Deuteronomy, the 25th chapter, we are clearly told that anyone who is not an Israelite can be enslaved indefinitely, along with their children, without release.

    Black slaves could have been considered analogous to foreigners since they were not "Christian" by way of analogy. The scripture says:

    "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." Deuteronomy 25:44-46 New International Version

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Sun Aug 18, 2013 at 06:04:10 PM PDT

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