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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rabbi - "Poverty Rips at the Spirit of Men, Women and Children"

In reference to the ancient prophets and rabbis, Rabbi Sim Glasser (left) states, "The ancients taught that there is nothing in the world more grievous than poverty. That it is the most terrible of sufferings – because not only is it physically intolerable, sadly unjust, but also because it rips at the spirit of men women and children created in the divine image." By today’s standards, the words of the ancient prophet Amos (8:4-7)would almost sound like a modern-day blog rant when he says. “Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’ You skimp the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The Lord has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: ‘I will never forget a thing they have done!’”

HIA ponders how Amos spoke out thousands of years ago to Israel and offers to us today a long history of humankind’s inclination toward abuse of the poor. He cast a strong indictment against the wealthy business owners and the powerful leaders who oppress the poor. Similar to our own Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, many business owners can hardly wait for their sacred days to be over so that they can get back to cut throat business dealing. Amos’ indictment is against deceptive business practices (nowadays, check out a new Verizon two-year contract that states, “text and pics access, $0.00.” Nowhere to be found is the charge of .25 cents per message, but the “access” is free!). Also they had they had a disdain for religious obligations (most of us December holiday revelers exchange gifts – yet only a small percent actually go to worship services throughout the year). In Amos’ time, making the ephah small meant that merchants cheated on the amount of goods they gave the customer - (this is not a total comparison, but unexpectedly stop in a Ralphs or Albertsons when you normally shop at Vons and you will not receive 2-for-1 and other store discounts. As a drop-in shopper, a $50 grocery bill can easily overcharge the casual consumer by $10 or more.) To get rich faster at the expense of the poor they even rigged the scales, sold the poor off as slaves for a pittance (sounds like our current third-world textile labor force working for “pennies” a day) and even bragged how the hungry poor buy the useless chaff of the wheat (seems like there is a comparison here, but can’t think of one at the moment).

Ultimately in this story of ancient irony, how about comparing the 350 or so billion we spend on American Defense to the piddling amounts we dole out via welfare? or to our educational systems? Is this not the rich cheating the poor as well? God promises never to forget any of their actions. In the gospel of Luke 16:1-13 we recall Jesus’ story of the crooked bookkeeper, who cancelled his master's debts in order to feather his own nest. “The children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light." You cannot serve both God and wealth!”

3 comments:

raby savage said...

Very thought provoking. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Many in America do not speak English as good as you. If you are having trouble understanding your cell phone bills, how about us? Many must be paying for things because we did not understand very well.

Anonymous said...

Great incite anonymous, I heard on the news the other day that 47 percent household speak English as a second language.