Israel Forever

For the week ending 18 December 2004 / 6 Tevet 5765

The Cry of the Poor

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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"One out of every five Israelis is poor!"

This statistic of poverty in Israel sent shock waves throughout the nation.

According to a report released a couple of weeks ago by the National Insurance Institute there are 1.4 million Israelis living below the poverty level, 650,000 of them children. The poverty level is a monthly income of up to 1,740 shekalim ($400). This increase of 80,000 in 2003 over the previous year was caused by the reduction in government allowances for children.

In this weeks Torah chapter we read about the outcry of the impoverished Egyptian population to Yosef to supply them with grain from the government warehouses which they cannot afford to buy. The Torah goes into great detail in describing the response of this Jewish ruler to the plight of his subjects.

Should this not serve as a lesson for the Jewish rulers of the State of Israel in how to respond to the outcry of their Jewish subjects?

Israel once prided itself on its social welfare policy. In its attempt to imitate western capitalism the present government has turned a deaf ear to the outcry of so many of the people it is supposed to serve. One minister in this government was even brazen enough to publicly declare a couple of months ago that there are no starving people in this country.

There is poverty in Israel both in the economy of a fifth of its people but also in the vision of a government which fails to understand that it has a responsibility to relieve the poverty of its people in order to preserve Israel forever.

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