Did you catch the headlines late last year about the "punishments system" practiced by the students of a local, exclusive private school? Seems that many of the wealthier fee-paying students couldn't be bothered sitting detention, writing lines or submitting to sundry other penalties handed out by the teachers and had been hiring the scholarship students to do the work. This in itself would not have been worthy of remark—after all, which kid doesn't try to shirk his responsibilities—if it hadn't been revealed that many parents were aware of their sons' evasion of duty, and in a number of cases had directly financed the exploitation of the underclass.

The feeble justifications offered by the parents in question just didn't stand up to scrutiny. The school had no intrinsic need for the work in question to be completed. Rather, they had imposed the penalties on the individual students and had rightly expected that those who had committed the crime should pay their fine and do their time.

We read this Shabbat about the penitence process of the metzora. We learn how, after a period of excommunication and penance, the reformed sinner would be welcomed back into the fold. The last stage of atonement was to offer a series of sacrifices to G‑d in the Temple. The cost of one's sacrifice varied according to one's financial position, with the liabilities of richer and poorer penitents being assessed on a sliding scale.

Fascinatingly, unlike the universal condemnation directed at those amoral students at their swanky citadel of upper-class privilege who had solicited others to suffer the consequences of their actions, Jewish law had no compunction in allowing any Jew to offer the sacrifices on behalf of, and instead of, a reformed metzora.

Note however, that were a pauper to offer the sacrifices on behalf of a magnate, then, rather than being assessed as the poor man he actually is, he would be obligated to bring an offering commensurate with that levied on his richer friend.

Not only are all Jews of equivalent value, not only are there no titled classes or feudal castes, but in G‑d's eyes, we are truly equal. From a soul perspective we share identical spiritual DNA, and the tiny differentials between us are analogous to the differences between different limbs of one common body. Just like a medication may be applied to one area of the body and cure another, so too one person, one "limb," can volunteer to partake in another limbs' process of expiation and rehabilitation.

Offering to help another was not considered an act of corruption but a gift of love to one's twin brother, helping him repent and reuniting him with his community.

Don't be afraid. Volunteering to help a friend will not handicap or contaminate you but will generate profound spiritual and material benefits. A pauper stepping in to help another may be assessed to pay a fine more appropriate to the affluent. Though this may be beyond your present means, it leaves G‑d no choice but to make up the shortfall and deliver you the treasures your actions have demonstrated that you so richly deserve.