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Remember The Poor
Tue, 11/05/2013 - 19:00
Special To The Jewish Week
Rabbi David Wolpe
Rabbi David Wolpe

The prophets speak ceaselessly about care for the needy and the poor. The call originates in the Torah. Deuteronomy 15:7 tell us that “if there is a poor person among you ... do not harden your heart and shut your hand.” On Yom Kippur we read from Isaiah, reminding us that the fast God wants is this: “To let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. To share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, clothe him...” (Is. 58:6,7).

Increasingly in modern society we do not see the poor in our daily lives. Wealth insulates and allows us to live among others who are doing well. There are still numerous challenges to life, but the grinding poverty that is a feature of so much of the world (and was prevalent throughout the ancient world) plays an increasingly small role in our everyday reality.

That separation is call to conscience. Our good fortune should be a spur to empathy and compassion. We who are so blessed must be more beneficent; we who have more gifts must show more gratitude. God has “grasped you by the hand ... and appointed you ... to bring prisoners from the dungeon” (Is. 42:6,7). Our mission is goodness and the right time is always now.

Rabbi David Wolpe  is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe.

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maybe as the rabbi of one of the wealthiest synagogues in the country, R Wolpe is insulated from poverty and views it solely from a rhetorical perspective.

but there are those of us who see it every day; and most of us realize that we have to concern ourselves first with "achicha" - your brother, before we take on the greater problems of society

If I actually had a list of people I had to meet, Rabbi David Wolpe would be on it. For sure.


"Empathy and Compassion" How powerful is this message!
Thank you for these words.

Sadly we know about the poverty half a world away and not next door. From this stance it's easier to pay taxes or deductible dues and expect the government or synagogue take care if it. We do not take care of issues of poverty directly and silently so even the receiver knows not the giver.

Rabbi, a very long time ago, working in a dermatologist office, him and his wife were Jewish and he was such a very kind man and his wife, well, ran things pretty hard. Although my travail to become Jewish had started in my late teens, I was learning much thru this physician about all aspects of Judaism. It was Yom Kippur and when I was finishing my work shift, his wife gave me a check for $500.00 which really felt like $500,000.00. I was shocked but needed it so much for my two kids and I. I thanked them so much. BUT for years they never stopped talking about it, even to other patients, to employees, bringing the subject up all the time. I eventually regretted receiving the amount. When I became a Jewish person by choice, I thought of that day and promised myself never to boast in helping those less fortunate than I. As a nurse, we never boast we helped so and so, helped so and so; we just go on as if nothing happened. That is how we need to help the poor, the indigent, the less fortunate and even at times those that are fortunate but do not help their fellow men and women. We must remind one another. G-d is good. Shalom