Preventing Poverty

Parshat Behar stresses the importance of preventing poverty.

“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him- convert or resident, so that he may live with you. Do not give him your money for interest and do not give him your food for increase…”-Vayikra Behar 25:35-36

If a fellow Jew begins to lose money but has not yet become poor, one must help him regain his prosperity before it is too late.

Rashi states that we should not allow him to decline socially and financially and fall altogether so that it will be difficult to restore him to his original position, but strengthen him from the time of his weakness. To what may this be compared? To a burden on a donkey: while it is still on the donkey one person may grab hold of it and hold up the load; but if it falls on the ground, five can not raise it up.

According to Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, it is harder for someone to emerge from bankruptcy than for him to be helped before his business fails. No matter how low a person may fall, their fellow Jews have the responsibility to help them. The same is true for the history of the Jewish people. Though Israel has suffered countless reversals in history, none of them is cause for despair. When the national destiny slides downward in one part of the world, Jews in more secure places must step forward to help. When all seems to be lost, it never is. Just as God built worlds, destroyed them and built anew (Breisheet Raba 3:9) so the Jewish nation has suffered appalling defeats, but always starts again and perseveres.

Each of us has a responsibility to help our fellow Jews.

The best way to reach out is to help create more jobs in Israel so that new olim and veteran Israelis alike will have the opportunity to earn an honest living in dignity.