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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

“You’re a Good man…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 3, 2007


for helping people who you didn’t even know” (from the TV series “Jericho”.)

The saying “Charity begins at home” has been hammered into us to such a degree that the thought of helping someone who we do not know is seen as a mark of a Good Person. There’s something wrong with this picture.

Oh, I agree that Tzedakkah (Righteousness and Justice) cannot be practiced if it has not been taught from an early age, in some manner. But the intention of such teaching should be that the person being taught brings the very idea of Tzedakkah with him or her to others, regardless of relation, as a matter of fact. There’s nothing “Good” in the idea of Tzedakkah (or the less righteous/just idea of Charity) it’s just what it is supposed to be. Righteousness and Justice.

My guess is that people who extend those two values only to their loved ones or their specific community still do it out of a sense of Obligation – which in essence is not less than towards the Stranger. Doing what is my duty is not Good. It’s Righteous. And Righteous is what G-d expects of us.

So being “good” to anyone is what G-d is demanding of us. Let’s not get carried away by the idea that it’s enough to do tzedakkah to our own, and that if we extend it to those we do not know we are “good” – because that is a delusion.

““Justice, justice shall thou pursue!” (Devarim/Deut 16:20 – Parasha Shoftim)” and ” Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born; for I am the L-RD your G-d. (Vayikra/Lev 24:22)

So we cannot, and should not, treat people differently depending on their status in relation to us, because to do so is a violation of our obligation towards G-d and men – to not violate this has nothing to with being Good. It is just the way things should be.

Posted in Charity, Justice, Torah, Tzedakah | Leave a Comment »

A Zionist Quote

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 22, 2007


There must not be one law for the Jew and another for the Arabs….In saying this, I do not assume that there are tendencies toward inequality or discrimination. It is merely a timely warning which is particularly necessary because we shall have a very large Arab minority. I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs, just as the Jewish people at large will be judged by what we do or fail to do in this state where we have been given such a wonderful opportunity after thousands of years of wandering and suffering.” (Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, Page 566 – written in December 1947 – [My Emphasis])


Oh, Israel, how you have fallen!Devarim 24:17: “Thou shalt not pervert the justice due to the stranger…”I cannot let go of this issue – because it is so grave.Where are the Prophets of today? Where are the men and women of G-d that will approach the King and spell out the Law to him? Who do we approach to make Jerusalem repent?

By all means don’t believe in Torah! Don’t believe there is a G-d! That is your choice, but don’t pervert Torah and don’t pervert what the Founders of the Modern State of Israel pledged themselves to. Don’t drag their good name in the dust and mud, just because you are overtaken by hatred and egoism and have forgotten that The Land is a gift to be shared with those living within Her.

This and several other Blog entries from me the past days are sure to confuse many of my detractors and opponents, because they so very strongly believe that I am a blind defender of Israel, who only wish to kill all Palestinians and develop “Greater Israel”.

They truly cannot be more wrong about that – but that they believe this is completely their own doing – nowhere have I said different than what I have been saying for the last three years (the time I have been discussing this in Blogs and in Care2).

Their own prejudices, antisemitism and blindness have crippled their understanding of what I have actually been saying. They have assumed that because I am Jewish I am also blindly accepting of anything the Government of Israel, the Settlers and zealous religious people have done or are doing.

What I have been doing – and will continue to do – is give a balanced and nuanced, fair hearing to both sides of the conflict. That they have fanatically and violently been giving voice to the Palestinians’ side has meant that I as a Co-Host of a large Human Rights Group, have been forced to, in the name of Justice, fight their biased, antisemitic, anti-zionist and violent propaganda with common sense, facts and reason. Anyone with a brain and a mind to use that brain can see that in anything I have written on the matter.

For some reason it has been rather quiet from that front (the Radical Far Left) lately, which has permitted me to clarify my position without having to “do battle” with fanatics at every turn.

Let those who have a mind to read, read and those who only wish to attack blindly without sense and reason remain blind and deaf to the truth.

Posted in Bigotry, Chilul Hashem, Justice | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

And you shall live in terror? – Parasha Ki Tavo

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 8, 2007


Because these ideas have been on my mind – I am bumping this Dvar Torah up to visibility.

“And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over the Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster. And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over; that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath promised thee.” (Devarim/Deu 27:2-3)

I’d like to connect this Parsha to what I wrote on Parasha Shoftim about Israel’s responsibility and obligation to Live by Torah’s Ethical Imperative in respect to the Stranger.

When Moshe is about to die, and he instructs the People one last time about what they are to do when they have entered the Land that G-d has given them: First they are to offer thanks to G-d for the Land, for the Covenant and for personal privileges and accountability, but before they do that they are to make sure that the Covenant and the Laws of that Covenant are visible to all who come to dwell there – and then the consequences of adhering or not adhering to the Laws of that Covenant is to be read out loud – as a consecration of the Land. It is as if G-d wants to make sure that His Torah is thoroughly imprinted, not just in the People, but in the very Land. Violating Torah means Violating the Land, because Torah is imprinted on the Land.

While each Jew is certainly personally responsible for obeying Torah, and are asked to affirm this in Devarim/Deu 26:2-10, this Parasha clearly speaks about the ENTIRE people as a Collective – and not just the People, but the stranger as well – Devarim/Deu 26:11. If they fail to observe the statutes of Torah, horrible things will happen to them.

This is where Judaism gets its idea of Reward and Punishment from. The first time Torah speaks of Reward for obedience is in Shemot/Exo 20:12 – “Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the L-RD thy G-d giveth thee.” The implication of a Punishment if disobeyed is also there. Violating Torah means Violating the Land.

People don’t want to hear about the consequences of disobeying Torah – they would much rather hear about the Blessings enumerated in the chapter following the Curses – yet the Curses (Deu 27:15-26; Deu 28:16-19) come before the Blessings (Deu 28:3-6) thus somehow spelling out that we should be aware more of the negative consequences of our actions, rather than what we can gain from acting right.

In Deu 28:66, G-d admonishes in a manner that connects to the present situation in Israel:

The life you face shall be precarious; you shall be in terror, night and day, with no assurance of survival.” (Deu 28:66)

Over and over Israel is warned that forgetting the Stranger, the Widow and the Orphan will put her in the dog-house with G-d. Over and over, also in this Parasha, is she admonished that wrong-doing has its price. So why does she insist on wronging the Stranger? Why does the Modern State of Israel keep forgetting the Holy Charge given to her in ancient times? Deu 1:16 (2), Deu 10:18-19 (2), Deu 14:29, Deu 24:17, Deu 24:19-21 (3), Deu 26:11-13 (3), Deu 27:19, Deu 31:11-12 (2) – to treat the Stranger equal to the Home-born?

This makes me think that the consequences of not caring for those, also those not Jewish, that need it or to wrong ANY human being, is the terror wrought on Israel today. Deu 27:19 is tied to Deu 16:20 by the word JUSTICE – the promise of life and prosperity for the pursuit of Justice is echoed in Deut 28:66, in a manner that almost makes my skin crawl. How can she not see this, and what will it take for her to wake?

Posted in Deuteronomium 27:2-3, Dvar Torah, Holy Charge, Israel, Judaism, Justice, Modern State of Israel, Parasha Shoftim, Reward and Punishment, Torah, Weekly Parasha | 1 Comment »

Without Justice there can be no Peace

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 30, 2007


 

Justice, justice shall thou pursue!” (Devarim/Deut 16:20 – Parasha Shoftim)”By three things the world is preserved, by Justice, by Truth and by Peace, and these three are one: if Justice has been accomplished, so has Truth and so has Peace” (JT Taanit 4:2, after Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel and Rav Muna)

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said: there is truth, the truth of the truth, and peace. Truth is: a kid stole an apple. The truth of the truth is: the kid was hungry. Peace is: Nobody stole anything; give the kid an apple!” (Heard from Reb Shlomo Carlebach)

Justice – tzedek (righteousness) means that something is right or has been righted.
Truth – emet (truth) means the stability of facts. That the facts are reliable and accurate.
Peace – shalom (perfection), means that nothing is missing, that all is well.

When all that is wrong has been righted and there are no more needs, because all is well, then there is also Peace.

That is why Torah tells us to pursue Justice. We are obligated to seek out that which is wrong, imbalanced, unequal, and make it right, and when we do, we bring Peace.

Jewish Justice is not blind it is said that when G-d had just created the World He had a conversation with Torah:

“Nor is this world inhabited by man the first of things earthly created by G-d. He made several worlds before ours, but He destroyed them all, because He was pleased with none until He created ours. But even this last world would have had no permanence, if G-d had executed His original plan of ruling it according to the principle of strict justice. It was only when He saw that justice [tzedek] by itself would undermine the world that He associated mercy [chessed] with justice, and made them to rule jointly.” (Legends of the Jews – Creation)

Thus tzedek – righteousness was born. When applying Justice, setting things right, we, like G-d, must take into account ALL circumstances present before passing judgement, without consideration to anything but what is right AND compassionate.

When one considers the situation in Israel/Palestine, it becomes clear that both parties must practice Tzedek and Chessed (Righteousness and Mercy) Justice with Compassion.

Both must do away with lawlessness and consider the other with compassion and seek what is right for both. The only way to do that, in my mind, is to look for the Truth [emet] and the Truth of the Truth – i.e honestly state what is happening and acknowledge the causes for those events on both sides. That is hard, because it means putting stop to the blame game – on both sides. It means being responsible and accountable.

It pains me that Israel is failing to heed the words in Shoftim “Justice, justice shall you pursue!”, because by failing that she has failed to live up to Torah’s admonition:

I the L-RD have called thee in righteousness, and have taken hold of thy hand, and kept thee, and set thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the nations; ” (Yisheyah/Isa 42:6)

Torah True Justice doesn’t mean letting criminals get away – it means making sure that all be brought to court and given an unbiased hearing. It doesn’t mean not defending oneself or those dependent on you from attack, it means going after the criminals AND showing compassion towards those that are not criminals.

Torah clearly teaches that in war, there are certain Laws that must be followed, and I don’t think anyone denies that Israel is in a state of War. Destroying land, trees or peoples’ livelihoods are not permitted. Peace must be offered and clearly be declined before any attack. Also in a war of defense there are Laws that must be followed:

One may not:

1] Kill an innocent third party to save a life;

2] Compel a person to risk his life to save the life of another;

3] Kill the pursuer after his evil act is over as a form of punishment.

4] Use more force than minimally needed.

More on Jewish Law and the matter of War

It doesn’t serve Israel to go after the Palestinian PEOPLE for the criminal actions of Palestinian terrorists – it would be more fruitful to try and get the Palestinian People’s co-operation through aiding them in achieving prosperity and well-being independently from the criminal terrorists, including the Palestinian Governmental branches that actively endorse terrorism.

In the end this would inspire the Palestinians to start policing themselves, because co-operating with Israel in good things, such as not harboring criminals, not accepting and encouraging violent attacks on Israel and not destroying what help they recieve from Israel and the International Community, is more profitable than the opposite.

Will taking out the criminals with one hand and helping the non-criminals with the other achieve Peace? In the end it will – Chicken Soup goes a long way in hungry hearts, minds and stomachs.

It irritates the drek out of me that there are religious Jews that shrug over this and “hide” behind “Moshiach will sort it out…!” The Jewish People have been charged with the task of being a Light to the Gentiles NOW, not shockling for the coming of the Moshiach. Moshiach will come when it is time, but Justice, Truth and Peace is for the now.

It also aggravates me enormously that some Jews seem to regard Gentiles as some sort of lower class of people, and therefore do not practice Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah in relations to non-Jews. Especially since Torah clearly states that the Law is the same for the Jew and the Gentile and that the Stranger must not be wronged. (Vayikra/Lev 24:22; Shemot/Ex. 22:21; 23:9; Vayikra/Lev 19:33 etc…)

It seems that the idea that Gentiles are lesser people, that reside with some, is connected to the idea of Israel’s Chosenness, that somehow, because we are Chosen we are also above the Law – it is the very opposite. We are Chosen because G-d decided to charge us with the obligation of the Law. G-d gave us the Law so we should LIVE it and pass it on in actions. This is our Holy Duty.

It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the L-RD doth require of thee: only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy G-d“. (Mic 6:8)

The fact that others do not live this way, does not free Israel from her Holy Obligation of pursuing Justice nor does it give Israel a mandate to disregard the plight of others, when there is a need or when there is an opportunity to practice Torah. How can Israel be a Light to the Nations if she does not Shine?

Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the L-RD thy G-d giveth thee.” (Deu 16:20)

In fact this pursuit of Justice [tzedek] guarantees that Israel (and Palestine) will eventually live in peace.

Dov

Posted in Jewish Law, Justice, Moshiach, Peace, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Righteousness and Mercy, Torah, Truth, Weekly Parasha | 3 Comments »

The Concept of Tzedakah

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 19, 2006


“To each and everyone according to his needs, from each and everyone according to his ability.”

That is what Tzedakah is all about – a Just distribution of Society’s resources, so that no-one is in such need that he has reason to ask for assistance. It is not to be mistaken for charity – charity is based on the idea that one is better off then the other, thus creating an unequal relationship which in the end only serves to cement poverty and inequality. Charity assumes that the ones in need of assistance are in need of assistance on all levels of life and have nothing to contribute and nothing of worth to give to the Community. Charity is in and of itself extremely egotistical, because it puts focus on the giver rather than on the receiver. Just think of the idea that giving to charity is tax-deductable! Give to charity and you don’t have to pay your due to the Community…yeah real philantropic.

Tzedakah takes into consideration that all people have something they can contribute to the common good of the Community, it also takes into consideration that we are all in need in some respect, therefore on equal footing with each other. It doesn’t ask people to pull themselves up by the boot-straps, regardless of whether they have boots or not – it makes sure they have boots and no reason to pull anything.

In Judaism the highest level of Tzedakah is making sure a person is self-sufficient – i.e that he can provide for himself.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

It has always struck me as ‘interesting’ that so many people who profess to be Conservatives also profess to be Religious – but find the idea of Tzedakah offensive and threatening. It seems contradictory. Most Religions, teach some sort of “care for the weak”, yet those who profess to be the most Religious are often those who complain that the weak and poor in society are ‘mooching’ off of the rich. It doesn’t add up.

Being without means doesn’t mean that you have nothing at all, it means that you have something else of value. Tzedakah ensures that what you have is valued as enriching to Society.

Maybe the poor shoe maker is poor in a finacial sense, and needs Tzedakah to provide for his kids – but he is rich in knowledge on how to make shoes, which means he can teach. The Rabbi might not be very well off, and some times need assistance to make ends meet – but he has one thing in abundance – knowledge of Torah, which provides Spirtual richness to the Community. The Artist may not be rich at all, but what he creates enriches peoples’ lives by providing beauty that opens peoples’ souls and hearts…and so on and so forth – monetary wealth is good, but not having monetary wealth is not equivalent to being a parasite.

It’s time that the Haves of our World start realizing that the Have Nots might indeed have both wealth and riches, their only need is Tzedakah – Just distribution of the World’s Resources on a daily basis, because 1% of the World’s population sitting on all the money, complaining that the rest of us are sucking them dry, at the same time handing out breadcrumbs to make themselves feel good doesn’t go any where near putting your money where you mouth is in relation to G-d.

Shalom!

Posted in Justice | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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