A Small Taste of Salvation

Yael Eckstein  |  April 26, 2023

Holocaust survivor Katerina 2021

An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves. — Leviticus 25:49

Compassion is one of Judaism’s highest values and this caring concern and empathy for our fellow human beings is considered one of the three distinguishing marks of being Jewish. Enjoy these 11 devotions on this very important concept for Christians and Jews.

Have you ever been stuck on the side of the road? It’s not a good feeling, is it? A few years ago, I was on my way home from Jerusalem after a long day of meetings. It was pretty late, and it was dark out and raining. Suddenly, my car was not driving properly. I had blown a tire. It later turned out that I had run over some broken glass.

I pulled over on to the shoulder of the road, along the highway, in the middle of nowhere. To say I was exasperated is an understatement. As I sat there contemplating my situation, I realized that I wasn’t even sure I could change this tire myself, especially considering the darkness and the weather. There I was, holding an umbrella and surveying the damage. I considered the possibility that I could be there for a long time.

Suddenly, a car pulled up on the shoulder behind me. A man stepped out and offered to help. It turns out that he works in the car repair business and could change a tire in no time. “You saved me!” I said, as he was finishing up.” “That’s our job,” he replied. “We all need to save each other.”

When he said that, I couldn’t help but remember a beautiful teaching I heard years ago.

A Small Taste of Salvation

In the Book of Leviticus, the Torah describes what happens if someone is sold into slavery due to poverty. The law is that the closest relatives of the person are to raise the funds to free him, if possible. “An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in their clan may redeem them. Or if they prosper, they may redeem themselves.”

In the Hebrew, the word for “cousin” here is ben dodo, literally, “son of his uncle.” The Jewish sages saw a hint at a much deeper lesson. The Hebrew letters of ben dodo are identical to the letters, ben David, “son of David.” Based on this, the sages taught that anyone who redeems another person from servitude is acting like our messiah, the son of David, the one who saves us all.

As I drove home, I thought about all those situations in life when we feel stuck or trapped and then someone comes along and saves us. The sages teach us that this is a small taste of the ultimate salvation that we all long for.

Your Turn:

Who do you know who is trapped or in a tight spot? What can you do to save them?