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September 04, 2005



I was riveted to last week’s parashah [Torah reading]. The parahah in effect creates a framework in which tzorchei tzibbur [public needs] is the primary focus – through the various tithes. The transition point is the pasuk [Dt 15:4] that essentially says you will have no evyonecha [your poor]. Of course, the torah later states [Dt 15:11] that, of course, there will always be evyonecha. How do you reconcile all of that? The answer, I believe is that we are obligated to create a tax and similar structure that is designed to maximize welfare so that there is minimal unemployment and other social problems. When the problems arise, however, we are obligated to do give tzedakah to deal with the needs of the poor and needy. The problem in New Orleans is that the government failed miserably on tzorchei tzibbur.

[brackets by ed.]

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