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You cannot ignore it

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Can we ignore injustice by keeping our eyes shut tight?

The following wonderful expression appears in this week's Torah portion: "You cannot ignore it." The parasha descirbes someone who sees a lost object in the street and is simply unable to continue walking without stoppiing and returning the object to its owner. The Torah does not say "It's not nice to ignore it" and also does not make a request of "Please don't ignore it." The Torah instead announces: "You cannot ignore it!" In other words: We know you and deep inside you are a good person. You want to help, you cannot just continue on your way as usual. You cannot pretend you did not see it, you simply cannot ignore it.

Our commentators explain that this expression is not only associated with a lost object, but with everything requiring rectification that we see around us. This is a command to live life more alert and attentive to what is happening in our surroundings. To notice what needs to be fixed and where we can benefit others. Not to just say "live and let live" or "leave me out of this, what does this have to do with me?" After all, we are not apathetic creatures who just happen to be living side by side. We need to look around all the time, notice everything from a lost object to an injustice, and make sure nothing needing to be fixed, rectified, or improved is ever ignored.


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