Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Poor of Your City Come First: The Kindness of Fools - Part III

When it comes to giving charity, Jewish Law instructs us to give it in the following manner:

"When there will be a needy person from among your brethren, in one of your gates in your land that the Lord your God has given you, don't harden your heart and don't close your hand from your needy brother. Surely open your hand and lend him according to his need that is lacking to him" (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).

Rashi's commentary points out that the description of the poor person uses the relatively unusual word "needy," indicating that the neediest individuals come first. And the mention of "your gates" indicates that the poor of your city precede those from other cities.

Unfortunately, those leading the government of the State of Israel must have all skipped "Hebrew School" on the day that this lesson was taught, as is woefully evident from the two following articles that appeared in Israeli newspapers this past weekend.

Cabinet okays NIS 50 million medical aid to Palestinians

Now, let us put aside for a moment that the "Palestinians" are engaged in a war of destruction against the Jewish State of Israel. Let us pretend for a moment that we get along just swell with our "Palestinian" neighbors in Gaza.
Even in this fantasy world, there would still be absolutley no justification for the government of the State of Israel allocating a even single Shekel towards the "Palestinians" - not to buy medication nor to buy weapons, and here's why:

Save Ethiopian Jewry, again

...According to the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews (, 70 percent of Ethiopians have no salary income and the average Ethiopian salary is below the poverty line. About 40% of Ethiopian students in grades 1-9 are below the class level for reading. Ethiopians drop out of school between the ages of 14 and 17 at a rate twice the national average...

Unfortunately, the Jewish State of Israel has too many of its own citizens who are in dire need of financial (and other forms of) assistance, and as Jewish Law (and common sense) teach us, they must come first.

What message is the government of the State of Israel sending to the weakest elements of Israeli society when it allocates millions of Shekels to assist our enemy, while claiming to not have the means to help its very own; all the while, raising the price of bread and considering doing the same to the price of milk, harming 400,000 of the weakest families within the State of Israel?

What message is the State of Israel sending to the greater Israeli society when it shows that it cares more about the wellbeing of the enemies of the Jewish State than it does of its very own citizens?


I love it when you write more positive posts.. they are very inspiring.
Lately, I have found your posts to be a bit depressing.
I know that you don't mean to give our own government a bad name. This specific instance of charity shows how much it is in our blood to give.. What a great charachteristic. Of course, our biggest strengths are our biggest weaknesses.

Please give us the good stuff, that we are missing. We all need to be inspired so badly.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun May 21, 10:35:00 PM GMT+3  


You quote Rashi on Tzedaka. If you were to quote Rashi on what to do with money that you have taken as taxation from a people whom you rule over, that would be more relevant. That money is not part of Israel's budget. We don't own it. We have taken it off Palestinian citizens and Businesses and our withholding it from the PA because we do not like their choice of government. If we did give it to our own poor it would be THEFT! Now I seem to remember something in our holy torah about that, what was it? Oh yeah, it's coming back to me. Sefer Shmot, Parashat Yitro. Oh yeah - "Thou Shalt not Steal!!!"

Ze'ev, it is one thing to support the occupation because you think G-d gave us this land. It is another to support the wanton disregard of the human rights of another people and to encourage the pillaging of their society.

You may not be a fool, but this attitude is cruel, insensitive and thoroughly unJewish.

By Anonymous H, at Mon May 22, 12:15:00 PM GMT+3  


Haim, if I am not mistaken, the PA has outstanding debts to the State of Israel to the tune of hundrerds of millions of dollars. They have not paid for the electricity, water and gas (and phone lines?) that the State of Israel provides them.

The PA has not paid a single penny of the millions of dollars owen to Israel (and Israelis and Jews) as part of judgements issued against them as being complicit in terror attacks.

So, no Haim,this money does not belong to the the "Palestinians", and the State of Israle has every right to use it to help the poor and needy of its own.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon May 22, 02:15:00 PM GMT+3  

So Ze'ev, if you owe me some money and I find your (lost) wallet, I can take what you owe from your wallet or use your bank cards as Iw ish before I give it back to you and without your say so?

Or rather, (seeing as you claim the PA owes money for water, electricity etc.)if you owe money to my mate, and I find your (lost) wallet, I can take your money or use your bank cards as I wish before I give it back to you and without your say so?

Weak, Ze'ev very weak.

Yellow Boy

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon May 22, 02:53:00 PM GMT+3  

Yellow Boy, let me give you a more appropriate example. Let's say, for instance that you are a dead beat dad who doesn't pay child support. The government will garnish your wages to ensure that you pay up.

Or, here's another. You like to rack up large bills on your credit card, but aren't too fond of paying your bills. The credit car company will send a collection agency after you to get what is rightfully owed to them.

It's not a matter of theft. The PA has written a few too many bad checks, and we don't have to cover them anymore. It's time to pay up.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Mon May 22, 04:47:00 PM GMT+3  

Bah just lost my comment! Try again...

Ze'ev, your counter example doesn't hold because any debts are to various companies and not to the State of Israel: hence my second example above. I am sure there are all sorts of legal arrangements for claiming back those bad debts, just as there are for credit companies etc., whereas you are arguing for the State of Israel to unilateraly trample over them.

As you rightly point out there are of course plenty of individuals, communities and organisations in desperate need in Israel. The government decides its budgets and priorities the consequences f which help some and condem others. But rather than advocate for State theft you would do better to advocate for a more just and equitable social system in Israel which holds that the needs of the weakest sectors of society to be of primary importance in determining the distribution of resources (as per the Torah and John Rawls).

Of course, this would contradict your dedication to the Settlement enterprise, but anyway.....


Yellow Boy

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue May 23, 01:44:00 PM GMT+3  

Yellow Boy,

Absolutely spot on. If you want to really talk about a completely unjust set of economic proiorities, let's talk about the money going to private education in the Hareidi sector. Let's talk about the money being given to Ze'ev to subsidize his local municipality taxes, just so he can live somewhere outside of the state of Israel. And let's not mention the billions of dollars being wasted on the ridiculous route of the separation fence which could have been saved if the interests of 6.7 million Israelis living inside of the green line were placed over those of the 0.25 million outside!


By Anonymous H, at Tue May 23, 02:51:00 PM GMT+3  

Yellow Boy, my example does in fact hold b/c all of the companies that I mnetioned, if I am not mistaken are state controlled, and as such, there is no problem for Israel to keep the money.

2nd, the money owed is from one political entity - the PA, to another - the State of Israel. The water and electric companies did not decide on their own to provide the "Palestinians" with their services, but it was through an agreement between the two ruling bodies... As such, the State of Israel should be allowed to collect payment from a defaulting PA.

3rd, I agree with you that Israel's economy hurts the weak elements of society. Ha'aretz recently reported, and if oyu are interested I will find the article for you, that Israel's economy is controlled by 12 families - all who basically own Israel's media and politicans and can do just about whatever they want and get all the laws they need passed i ntheir favor - thus, creating a situation that only hurts the poor.

I would be happy to live in a Jewish State that had a more equitable economy that protected those that needed a little help.

And Haim, I agree, the fece is costing us way too much money, if we would invest those billionso f dollars into Israeli society and the economy, Israel would be am uch better place.

Of course, that would also entail allowing the armyo actually fulfill its purpose and defea our enemies, but...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Wed May 24, 09:26:00 PM GMT+3  

A recent report said that Israel's social services were among the worst of the western world. One interesting statistic was that for families with 3 children or less, Israel gave less relative benefit per child than any other country in europe. And yet for families with 7 children or more, Israel had jumped into the highest ranking countries. Now I wonder why that could be??? Let me think? Is it all those evil secular lefties, making sure that their seven children families are well looked after, while other more responsible families' children starve? No, I think not. Time for the monopoly to end. Freedom and Justice for all.

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