Sunday, January 09, 2005

Priorities versus Prejudice

Zman Biur, of, said of my recent disagreement with my rabbi, “Shira Salamone is in shock that a rabbi might argue against aiding the tsunami victims. From her brief description of his words, it sounds to me that he argued that we are not required to contribute to their aid, not that it would be wrong to do so. Regardless, it's not a matter of being "against giving tzedakah." It's a question of priorities and degrees of responsibility. Tzedakah funds come from a limited pool. As individuals and as a community, we have to decide how best to allocate them.”

Zman Biur is, at least, arguing a question of priorities. My rabbi, on the other hand, is arguing from prejudice. Perhaps I wasn't clear about my rabbi's logic. His problem with giving tzedakah to aid the tzunami victims was not *only* that Jews have priority and that, in any case, the U.S. government was using our tax money to do the job, but *also* that we shouldn't help the tsunami victims because their governments are anti-Zionist. Not having had the benefit of a day school education, I’ll need the help of some of my better-educated friends to cite the parsha, chapter, and verse: Doesn’t the Torah state that, if a beast of burden falls, we are obligated to help it get up, even if it belongs to our enemy? What do politics have to do with a toddler who’s dying of thirst for lack of safe drinking water? It’s exactly this kind of intolerant attitude that’s driving our son away from Judaism.


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