Eliminating Poverty

In Parshat Ekev we read about the beauty of the Land of Israel (Devarim 8:7) “For Hashem your God brings you into a good Land, a Land of streams of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills. A Land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey. A Land where you will not eat bread in poverty, you will lack nothing there; a Land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you will mine copper.”


The description sounds very idyllic. The question is how many Israelis are benefiting from the produce that the Land has to offer? According to Israel’s National Insurance Institute, every third child in Israel lives below the poverty line. Many families who suffer from hunger eat smaller portions, skip meals and in extreme cases don't eat for a whole day. Diets may be high in carbohydrates lacking meat, dairy products, vegetables and fruit. Many of these children have rarely eaten from the seven species aside from wheat (bread has always been affordable until recent price hikes with prices rising over 15 %). This week the cost of eggs has risen as well.


What can we do to help these families? At our local national religious school we have food drives every Rosh Chodesh where students are asked to bring rice, pasta, oil etc and around the holidays they are asked to bring in wine and special treats as well. These packages go to members of the community who would otherwise not be able to afford many of these products. Each child in the school (even those who can’t afford to bring a lot) brings something and feels the importance of doing this mitzvah to eliminate hunger. There is also an opportunity to help pay for hot lunches of children who would otherwise not be able to afford them so that every child in the school can have a hot lunch each day.


Israel must live up to the Biblical standards of “a Land where you will not eat bread in poverty, you will lack nothing there.”