Thursday, December 14, 2006

"If there is no flour there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour." - Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah

An antagonist asked: Doesn't our Torah have enough commandments concerning helping the poor and the poor's welfare?

I answered: You sound as though there are so many that they are a burden to you. You should cherish those mitzvot above all others and those are the mitzvot that you should perform most assiduously.

Why do I say this? Because they are the mitzvot that are the conditions upon which all of the other mitzvot can be carried out.

"If there is no flour there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour." - Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah

I'll quote that again: "If there is no flour there is no Torah; if there is no Torah, there is no flour." - Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah

That statement does not mean that there is no Torah only for those who have no flour. It means that there is no Torah for the ones hardening their hearts, or making of themselves luftmenschen, and not seeing to it that everyone has flour (and water, clothes, shoes, housing, inoculation, education and the conditions under which every individual can grow to her or his maximum Spiritual-Moral, mental, emotional and physical potential).

It is because I see the poor in this country becoming increasing beggared and more and more people falling into poverty, that I feel absolutely confident in saying there is no Torah in Israel. If there was one-third of the children in Israel would not be under the poverty line and they would not be going to school hiding the roll the have from others so that no one will see it has nothing on it, the elderly and infirmed would not be eating out of garbage cans and widows would not have their electricity turned off in the winter.

You stated: It seems to me, there are scores of commandments requiring compassion to the poor; forbidding oppressing the poor.

I responded: And are they being fulfilled? Are people as careful to do those mitzvot as they are when choosing their "glatt" chickens? No! They (maybe) give their 10% tzeddakah and a few hours of their time to help others, which only perpetuates the misery. They do not fulfill the commanment: Unloose the shackles of injustice. They do not go up against the system that creates and perpetuates poverty.

He went on to inquire: Why do we need a philosphy that is not rooted in Torah?

I responded: Do you not see that what I am saying is pure Torah? Shame on your teachers!

From the day that Avraham smashed his father's idols Judaism has been nothing but radical social transformation. Anyone who isn't smashing the idols that keep us in thrall, poor and subject to corrupt regimes is not of the covenant of Avraham, has not begun to understand what that covenant is.

Anarchy is not a philosophy from outside Torah. Anarchy is the mitzvot "concerning helping the poor and the poor's welfare" with the utmost punctiliousness and assiduousness.

Why do you think the old Jew blessed Rudolph Rocker after he helped the Jewish workers win their demands in a strike in 1912?

I once took a course with a rabbi on tzadakah. At one point he stated that there must always be poor people so that we can do the mitzvah of giving tzaddakah. I left his course and have not read a word that he has to say since. He went down to credibility zero with me when he said that. The cruelty that passes itself off as Torah in this generation is absolutely astounding.

We may be sure that even in a society of Anarcho-Communalism, in which all of our physical needs are provided for; there will be endless opportunities for us to give emotional tzaddakah; to help those who need us in numerable ways and to be helped by others in innumerable ways.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

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