|Posted on October 6, 2013 at 11:55 AM|
By Gary Konecky
Recently, a friend called my attention to an article about homeless men deliberately getting AIDS so they can receive social services and so they can stop living on the streets. That somoeone would be so desperate, and it is far more than just a single individual, speaks volumes about our failed, immoral leadership.
In recent weeks Congress again voted to cut Food Stamps. Washington seems to have an unlimited appetite for defense spending, pointless wars, tax breaks for the richest among us, welfare benefits for mega-corporations and those who are well off or outright crooks; yet they bitterly resent spending money on the poor or sick among us. I cannot help but be reminded of this week's Torah passage of Noah (where man's greed is responsible for the world's destruction) and the upcoming Torah passage of Vayeira, that deals with the destruction of Sodom (and that man's greed is responsible for the destruction of Sodom). Least we think that we are not in Sodom, I want to point out that in an effort to prevent 30 million people from having access to health insurance, members of Congress have shut down the federal government. They have told millions of Americans, starve (by cutting Food Stamps) and die (by attacking the Affordable Care Act, which they call Obamacare). These leaders have in effect said; our wealth is so important that your hunger and death matter to us; for the sooner you die, the more we have for ourselves. How is this any different then what happened in Sodom?
Nor is that the only issue. The Republicans in Congress have also spent millions of dollars to deny gay and lesbian couples their constitutional rights by defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when anyone with a basic understanding of the Constitution can tell you DOMA is unconstitutional. These same bigots have also spent millions of taxpayer dollars seeking to deny women access to reproductive health services.
Inevitably, these same politicians also claim to be acting because of their deep concern with moral values, their deep concern over family values, and their claims that they are doing G-d's will or following the Bible. How they can claim that is beyond me for “…what the L-rd demands of you; but to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G-d.” – Micah 6:8 Additionally, we are taught:
"If all the sufferings and pain in the world were gathered (on one side of the scale) and poverty was on the other side, poverty would outweigh them all." - Exodus Rabbah 31:14
“For there will never cease to be needy within the land. Therefore, I command you, saying, you shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your poor one, and to your needy one in your land.” – Deuteronomy 15:11
“Jose b. Johanan (a man) of Jerusalem used to say: Let thy house be wide open, and let the poor be members of thy household” - Mishna (Mas. Avoth Chapter 1)
"Just as G-d clothes the naked... so must you clothe the naked. The Holy Blessed One visits the sick... so you must also visit the sick. The Holy Blessed One comforts mourners... so must you comfort mourners. The Holy Blessed One buries the dead... so must you bury the dead." - Talmud (Sotah 14a)