This Monday, I shall join other dedicated labor activists in the Philadelphia area in marching in the 30th Annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade and Family Celebration, on Monday, September 4. We will start to assemble at 8:30 AM at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Hall, 1301 South Columbus Boulevard, then we will have our opening rally, then we will march down Columbus Boulevard to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing, at Columbus Boulevard and Market Street, where we will hold our family celebration, with food, a live band, activities for the kids, and union camaraderie.
It is more than appropriate that the current Torah portion, Ki-Tetze (Deuteronomy 21: 10-25:19) discusses such mundane but serious issues as the treatment of poor and working people.
Chapter 24, verse 10, says, “When you make a loan of any sort to your neighbor, you must not enter his house to seize his pledge. You must remain outside, whole the many to whom you made the loan brings the pledge out to you. If he is a needy man, you shall not go to sleep in his pledge; you must return the pledge to him at sundown, that he may sleep in his cloth and bless you; and it will be to your merit before the LORD your God.”
Chapter 24, verse 14 says, “You shall not abuse a needy and destitute laborer, whether a fellow countryman or a stranger in one of the communities of you land. You must pay him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets, for he is needy and urgently depends on it; else he will cry to the LORD against you and you will incur guilt.”
Chapter 24, verse 17 says, “You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the LORD you God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment. ”
These are serious issues of concern to God, the maintenance of a just society, that does not have extremes of wealth and poverty-the precursors to social upheaval and revolution. Please remember this, and Happy Labor Day.