Then, you can assuage your own guilt about the fact that your fat face is buried in fast food and takeout seven nights a week by claiming that the big J-Man upstairs wasnt talking about public assistance, just private charity.
Regarding the Aug. 31 letter Welfare recipients denied work blessing, K.A. Straughn must not be familiar with the Jewish concept of Tzedakah, which translates to justice, not charity, as it is often mistranslated. Tzedakah is a biblical and rabbinic concept that obligates Jews to pursue social and economic justice for everyone, not just through private acts, but through the actions of the community as a whole. A popular rabbinic teaching states that when one meets a beggar, they should know that God is standing by the beggars side. The idea is that our time on earth is but a loan from the deity, and we owe it to ourselves and each other to spread our good fortune to everyone.
This is not to say that Straughns arguments are utterly without merit: Obviously, its better to work if you are able, and nobody that I have ever known was eager to go on public assistance. But things happen to even the best of us. People lose their jobs, get behind on their mortgages, lose their livelihoods and cant find work, and when that happens, I prefer the teachings of Hillel and Akiba to those of John Calvin.
Neither is this an idea limited to Judaism. Mahatma Gandhi once said that poverty is the worst form of violence. Now theres a question for our time: How do we, a supposedly civilized nation, tolerate the continuation of institutionalized violence that we call poverty upon the minds, bodies and hearts of the so-called least among us? If we can afford to spend billions of dollars of our tax monies to maintain costly and brutal wars overseas in order to maintain our own hegemony in the world, why can we not give a little of those monies over to seeing that people dont starve to death in the streets? If thinking like this makes me unchristian to some, so be it.
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