Taking Away Food from the Needy
I read today in the newspaper about the reduction in federal food stamp benefits that began this month. I was incredulous. What is the rationale? Where is Congress’ conscience? I don’t get it.
In an era where the religious values or dogma of some groups of people seem to shape their political agendas in this country, taking food from the poor and needy appears completely antithetical.
I am neither a political activist nor a religious scholar, but I do recall some things from my upbringing about the ethics of our fathers, which ought to guide our country’s actions.
In search of clarity for my vague remembrances from my religious school training in my youth, I found a page called Hunger Related Torah Text Sources on the website of Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger which was helpful to me (see, http://mazon.org/2008/11/11/torah-text-sources/).
Here are a few “quotes” which to me are most salient:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am Adonai you G-d.
He that oppresses the poor blasphemes his maker, but he that is gracious to the poor honors Him.
A small bit of bread may be life to the poor; one who deprives them of it sheds blood.
There are many more such snippets on the above website which I would encourage our Congress to read.
But that may not help the poorest and neediest today who must rely on food stamps for basic sustenance for themselves and their children.
If Congress will not help them, I think it will be up to us to do so.
I would suggest contributions of food to neighborhood food pantries or money to hunger programs like Mazon. What else can we do? (This is what I will do.)
Because, as the Good Book says, and as set forth on the above website:
Mishnah Torah 6:6
If a stranger comes and says, “I am hungry. Please give me food,” we are not allowed to check to see if he is honest or not; we must immediately give him food.
David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California … with a conscience. His website is at http://karpmediation.com . He apologizes for any ads affixed to this post by wordpress.com; they are not his.