Ha! And I thought I knew it all

Just when I thought I was familiar with all the holy writ, a few pages of Deuteronomy reminded me I was not even close to comprehending an iota of it…

Now I know where Kiraitu was coming from [Deuteronomy 22:23-27]

If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her,  you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death-the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you.  But if out in the country a man happens to meet a girl pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.  Do nothing to the girl; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders his neighbour,  for the man found the girl out in the country, and though the betrothed girl screamed, there was no one to rescue her.

Public health policy [Deuteronomy 23:12-13]

Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself.  As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.

Law of torts totally disregarded for stomach’s sake [Deuteronomy 23:24-25]

If you enter your neighbour’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket.  If you enter your neighbour’s grain field, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain.

The origin of honeymoon-the long kind [Deuteronomy 24:5]

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

 A lesson in credit management [Deuteronomy 24:6]

Do not take a pair of millstones-not even the upper one-as security for a debt, because that would be taking a man’s livelihood as security.

A man’s home is his castle [Deuteronomy 24:10-11]

When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbour, do not go into his house to get what he is offering as a pledge.  Stay outside and let the man to whom you are making the loan bring the pledge out to you.

The right to food [Deuteronomy 24:19]

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

The Family of the Unsandaled [Deuteronomy 24:5-10]

If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to her.  The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.  However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to me.”  Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,”  his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.”  That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.

Touch not … [Deuteronomy 25:11]

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

 

Blossoms in Hard Times

There are some things that you cannot just help but notice. This tree was one of them. It stood, almost in defiance of all the green, at the heart of the arboretum. Its yellow flowers outnumbered its green leaves. I thought I was the only one gazing at it. However, almost all the friends we were with had noticed it as well; its peculiarity could not just be ignored. Of course, it took a little bit longer for the guys to admit it but admit it they did.

At the risk of squeezing an observation dry, I could not help muse over the lessons that this tree offered. I was reminded of the global financial crisis of 2011. Many grumbled but there were a few who went on with their lives, unruffled by the crisis. These were the blossoms in hard times. The more recent Westgate saga is still fresh in our minds. All that bloodletting cannot be easily forgotten. Nay. It can never be forgotten. Perhaps we just have to learn to live with them and pray that the hands of time would bring some much needed healing. Nonetheless, out of these hard times, a few blossomed and inspired the whole country to unity albeit, momentarily. I will not forget the picture of this cop with a gun in one hand and a baby(who seemed totally undisturbed) in the other or that of a child running towards Abdul haji. Now there are yellow flowers for you.

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I borrow the title of this post from Charles Dickens’ novel “Hard Times”. Allow me to recommend a character. Stephen Blackpool is his name. Now there is a fine specimen of a human being. Perhaps not in the physical sense but so much in morals. He does not have all the titles that come with nobility but boy, he oozes every bit of it in his manner of speech and conduct towards all and sundry. To many in Coketown, he is “The Idiot”, a traitor of the worst kind. However, to the reader, he is a blossom in hard times. I have learned a thing or two from the fellow.

I rest my case there but before I do, I take a bow for all the blossoms in hard times; for those who refuse to take a bribe just because if they don’t, someone else will; for those who walk away, at the risk of appearing naïve, from that fatal invitation for a rendezvous in between the sheets; for the few who stand up for true justice, when most clamour for relative peace at the expense of the former and lastly, for those who stick to the narrow way, when it does not make sense to do so but for the prize at the end of the road.

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