Respect for the Widow

This Shabbat we read פרשת משפטים. In 1981 and again in 1982, Rav Meir Kahane זצ״ל, was our guest in our home in Los Angeles. Coincidentally, Rav Kahane was with us both Shabbats for פרשת משפטים.

Perhaps my being in LA right now reminded me of that privileged memory. What I also remember is that among all of the laws mentioned in the Parsha, Rav Kahane emphasized the importance of treating the widow with great respect. He quoted the אבן עזרא who said that mistreatment of a widow is so severe that if one sees someone else afflicting the widow, and he does not try to stop it, it’s as if he actually afflicted the widow.

Rabbi Soloveitchik echoes this point by saying that even making a grimace, or gesture that the widow could take as belittling, is a violation of this Mitzva.

The Torah itself continues with the warning that if one does mistreat the widow, his wife will become a widow as well! We must take extreme caution to especially treat the widow, regardless of her age or how wealthy she is, with the greatest care and respect.