You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind’

As we mentioned before, our weekly Torah portion lays out some of the most basic moral codes and describes the very foundation for a healthy and morally strong society.

A good example can be found in the following verse:

“You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14)

The original Hebrew word for ‘a stumbling block’ is ‘Michshol.’ {מכשול} The Hebrew root of this interesting word is Ch-Sh-L {כ-ש-ל} and its primary meaning is ‘to cause to fail’ as in the sense of making one fail by placing an obstacle in front of him.

‘Michshol’ {מכשול} which can also be translated simply as ‘an obstacle’ does not mean necessarily a tangible object, and it could mean also an abstract obstacle.

In fact, the most common ‘excuse’ for Israeli kids who fail an exam in school would probably have the Modern Hebrew verb “Le-Hachshi’l” {להכשיל} which means ‘ to fail someone’…

In light of the wider meaning of this word in Hebrew, it is clear why the old Jewish tradition understood this verse as ‘to not put an obstacle – either tangible or abstract – in front of ANYONE and not just blind people!

In other words, ‘not to put a stumbling block before the blind’ does not just mean the literally blind person but also not to take an advantage or ‘to put an obstacle in front of’ ANY person who is in a vulnerable situation.