Jews and Noahids: poverty reduction - G'd and the people

There is still a lot of poverty in the world. Many people wonder why Gd does not help the poor people. Is Gd not obliged to help the poor? Why does he leave the fight against poverty to the people themselves? The fact is that there are enough resources in the world to feed all people. According to the Torah, these sources come from G'd. According to the Bible, Gd has set up a system to ensure that goods are delivered to people in need. There is enough money, enough love and enough time to help everyone. All that is needed is goodwill from people who have enough to share their wealth with those who have nothing. People are the system that G'd created. Our share in this is called charity or justice (tsedaka in Hebrew). That there is poverty in the world is not God's fault, but the fault of the people. What can Jews and non-Jews (Noachians) do to combat poverty?

Poverty in the world - the numbers in 2013

According to figures from the World Bank in 2013, it appears that much has been achieved in the last decades in the fight against poverty. In 2015, poverty has fallen by half since 1990. But that does not mean that many people still live in extreme poverty. In view of population growth, extreme poverty in 2030 will not be over yet. In 2013 10.7% of the world population lived in extreme poverty. That means that 767 million people don't earn more than $ 1.9 a day (the World Bank's international poverty line)! Poverty is decreasing in East and South Asia. But in the Sahara region of Africa, many people still live in extreme poverty. The majority live in rural areas, live from agriculture and are not older than 18 years.
Much remains to be done to tackle extreme poverty. This is difficult because many poor people often live in remote areas with few facilities. It also remains difficult for people who have managed to get out of poverty. They depend on economic developments, climate change, and uncertainty about sufficient food.

Poverty in the Netherlands - the figures in 2014

The Netherlands has no real poverty in the sense of famine, no roof over its head, no clothing, no medical care, no education, etc. The Netherlands does have income poverty. This means that the income is too low to achieve a certain level of consumption. In 2014, the poverty line in the Netherlands was 1020 euros for a single-person household and 1920 euros for a couple with two children. In the Netherlands, 734,000 people have a low income. That is 10.4% of the population. Poverty is highest among non-Western families and single-person households. In 2014, 131,000 Dutch children were living in poverty. That is 4.5% of all children in the Netherlands. Half of these children live in a welfare family.

Poverty in Israel - the numbers in 2015

The reason that poverty is described in Israel has to do with the fact that Israel is at the top of the list of poverty in the OECD countries. Israel belongs to the rich Western world, but has a lot of poverty. In the Jewish state, 1 in 5 people live in poverty. To be precise, 21.7% of the population in 2015. That is more than 1.7 million people, of which almost 470,000 adults and more than 764,000 children. That number is more than twice as high as in the Netherlands, while the Dutch population is twice as large as the Israeli population. The most affected groups in Israel are the charedim (ultra-orthodox Jews) with 48.7% and the Arab minority with 53.3%. They also participate the least in the labor market in Israel.

Charity - tsedaka

Of course Gd could have sheep the world in such a way that everyone had a decent income and did not have to live in poverty. But that goes beyond the purpose of Creation according to the Torah, namely that people must take care of each other in order to build up a loving world. This also gives us the opportunity to give meaning to our lives. People lead a much more valuable life if they are altruistic instead of selfish. Donating money to charities and helping those in need offers the donor the gift of the purpose of life. In the Bible Book of Proverbs it says: "He who pursues justice and love finds life, justice and honor."

What can Jews and non-Jews (Noachians) do?

As stated in the introduction, Gd created sufficient resources on earth to provide food for all people and to live a decent life. No one in the world has to live in poverty. But then the system must function properly. When money does not arrive at the right place of destination or is misused or when too little or no money is donated, the system will not work properly. Also waging wars and making wrong administrative decisions also cause the system to malfunction. Naturally, things like drought and other natural disasters also play a role. But with a well-functioning system that invests in, for example, irrigation and a well-functioning economic system that can save money and food in times of prosperity to survive in periods of drought, that problem can be tackled. The damage caused by earthquakes can remain limited if a lot of money is invested in the construction of sturdy houses. The construction of dikes helps to prevent flooding. It is also becoming increasingly clear that humans have an impact on the climate. By exploiting the earth there are major climatic changes in which some areas are confronted with flooding and others with extreme drought. Problems can be tackled through a good climate policy and associated other measures.

Complying with God's laws leads to a world without poverty

So people can do a lot. But Jews and non-Jews must realize that this is only possible with the help of G'd. That implies that we must comply with Gd's laws. For Jews, that means compliance with 613 mitzvot that are in the Torah. For non-Jews, that means compliance with the Noachidic commandments. Only obedience to Gd's laws leads to a perfect world without poverty, war, hunger, disease, etc. After all, according to the Torah the world was created on the basis of the Torah. The Torah is the blueprint of Creation. From this man learns how to deal with Creation. In principle it is of course about compliance with all the commandments. But there are also special commandments that relate to, for example, poverty and charity:
  • Don't let an orphan or widow suffer (Ex. 22:21)
  • Do not harvest the whole land (Lev. 19: 9 and Lev. 23; 22)
  • Leave a harvested corner of the field or orchard for the poor (Lev. 19: 9)
  • Do not collect the remains that fell to the ground during harvesting (Lev. 19: 9)
  • Leave the remains of the harvest for the poor (Lev. 19: 9)
  • Do not collect the ol'loth (the imperfect bunches) from the vineyard (Lev. 19: 9)
  • Leave the ol'loth (the imperfect bunches) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10 and Deut. 24:21)
  • Do not collect the grapes that have fallen on the ground (Lev. 19:10)
  • Leave the peret (the ankle grapes) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10)
  • Leave the forgotten shoves behind. This also applies to all fruit trees (Deut. 24:20)
  • Leave the forgotten sheaves behind for the poor (Deut. 24: 19-20)
  • Don't forget to support a poor man and give him what he needs (Deut. 15: 7)
  • Give to charity according to ability (Deut. 15:11)

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