The Fog of More

כב מָחִ֤יתִי כָעָב֙ פְּשָׁעֶ֔יךָ וְכֶֽעָנָ֖ן חַטֹּאותֶ֑יךָ שׁוּבָ֥ה אֵלַ֖י כִּ֥י גְאַלְתִּֽיךָ: — ישעיה מד, כּב

I Disperse the fog of your crime (pesha), the cloud of smoke your sins darken. Return to Me. I Am your redeemer. (Isaiah 44:22)

Many interpret pesha — פּשע — as iniquity, yet none of my Hebrew dictionaries support this. The synonyms for “iniquity” listed on Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary ( includes corruption, debauchery, depravity, and immorality. Such acts may be heinous but they are not necessarily criminal.

To interpret pesha as “iniquity”requires that I assume that G!d Is only interested in morality, which regulates transpersonal behaviours. The mitzvot establish both civil and criminal codes. Such mitzvot regulate interpersonal behaviours. To frame these codes only in the context of morality is clearly incorrect. An important aspect of the moral code established by the mitzvot is that ethics are no less important than morals.

The Jewish system of law, halacha — הלכה — does not much separate ethics from law.
The prophet Isaiah here tells us that neither should we.

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