The biblical man did not fear an ox, though the Torah notes this week that an ox might gore a human to death. And whilst the Torah requires the execution by stoning of a man-killer oxen, it similarly decrees the same verdict for a human who murdered his fellowman.
What is the connection between Amalek’s inveterate hatred of the people Israel, from its first assault on Israel’s stragglers right after the Exodus, and through Haman’s genocidal plot in Persia that was foiled by Queen Esther, and the deep concerns today among American Jews about possible changes in the sensitive status quo regarding conversion to Judaism that the new Israel Government might enact, and our weekly Torah portion that concludes the Book of Genesis?
Selfishness is a major wall between a person and God; when a person goes – especially when s/he would rather not -- to a place where there is sadness in order to express sympathy, or when s/he goes to another place where there is joy in order to rejoice with them, one defies selfishness and gain more proximity to the presence of God.
Moses -- in this weekly Torah portion Sh’lach – finds it necessary to include 12 tribal leaders in the scouting-of-the-Promised-Land adventure for the sake of being politically correct, rather than be militarily correct
The Torah this week tries to show a degree of compassion to the bovine species, even within the realm of animal sacrifices. Thus, a newly born calf must not be sacrificed before it is at least eight days young, if only to allow its mom a sense of motherhood, if not bonding, with its child. In comparison to the contemporary factory farm where the (dairy) calf is removed from its mother moments after its birth with evident days-lasting anguish to both, the Torah seems to recognize here the need of the mother bovine to nurture its child.
All other Mitzvot may be surrendered then if fulfilling them are likely to bring about the death of the observer. As we can deduce then from that Levitical verse in our weekly portion the religion of the Torah is pro-life; one’s greatest accomplishment is not in dying like a Jew, but rather in living as a Jew.
Blood is the foremost symbol of the creature’s soul given to it by the Creator. Or as Orthodox Rabbi Yitz Greenberg posits: “Blood is seen as the carrier of life. The prohibition is a reminder that the ideal remains not to take another life.