Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

The Torah, Healthcare and Socialism

Posted by rabbiart on September 4, 2009

Its a mystery to me how anyone can take the Torah seriously and defend the health care system in the U.S. of A.  I am not in the camp of people who believe that my religion is the only true, correct religion, or that my interpretation of the Jewish tradition is the only correct interpretation. I don’t think the word “correct” is even useful in this context.

But the Torah, the prophets and rabbinic tradition have an orientation toward society and a point of view on what society should be about; striving toward greater and greater social justice.  Jews do not “give” charity, Jews “pay” our justice obligation.  There is no place in the tradition that countenances a society that organizes itself around blind obedience to the profit motive; we are to organize ourselves around the (sorry) prophet motive!

This week’s parshah particularly brings to our hearts and minds that our purpose – and our worth – is measure by how we treat the powerless in our midst; in the Torah’s formulation the widow, the orphan and the stranger.  The degree of anger, hostility and downright demonization of people who are working well within the established boundaries of the U.S. poltical system to bring about societal measures that they favor – it is truly frightening.  Likening the duly elected President of the United States to arguably the worst, most evil human to ever walk the face of the earth ought to be beyond the pale.

Taken seriously, the Torah is a “liberal”, “progressive” even downright “socialist” document.  Every 50 years land is redistributed in order to restore the balance among all members of society.  The siddur calls daily for special attention to the needs of the poor.  Produce and grains fall off your combine?  You’re not allowed to go back and pick them up.  Plowing a rectangular field?  You’re not allowed to go deep into the corners; the very way you plow your field must leave gleanings for the poor and the hungry.  Got community?  Then you must have a communal food pantry!  Davening the amidah? Then you must open yourself to change – yes – that you can believe in.  You (We) are commanded to clothe the naked, lift of the fallen, feed the hungry.

אָרוּר, מַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר-יָתוֹם–וְאַלְמָנָה; וְאָמַר כָּל-הָעָם, אָמֵן

Cursed be he that perverts justice for the stranger, the orphan and the widow.

When people are sick, they must be taken care of.

Would that we build a society in which everyone would gladly answer “Amen”.

Then we could truly say “Shabbat Shalom”.

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