Israel Forever

For the week ending 28 February 2004 / 6 Adar I 5764

You Can Take It With You

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

With all due credit to the efforts of Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to rescue Israels economy with his austerity budget, there has been sharp criticism of this switch of government policy to a capitalistic orientation with less concern for the underprivileged.

Consideration of the needy is, however, not only to be expected from the government but from individuals as well. A budget which causes, as its critics say, "the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer", creates a dangerous social gap which can only be alleviated by the rich doing more to help the poor.

In this weeks Torah chapter there is mention of the table which stood in the Mishkan sanctuary. This table, with the twelve showbreads displayed upon it, represented the sustenance which Heaven provided for the entire universe. It was also a model for the table in each home on which a prosperous host could provide for his needy guests. Rabbi Bachya, one of the great Torah commentators, mentions in this regard the custom of righteous Jews who ordered that the caskets in which they would be buried be made from the wood of the table on which they fed the needy. This, he notes, was an expression of their conviction that man takes nothing else with him when he leaves this world but the good deeds he performed.

What a timely lesson for both government officials and individual Jews a lesson beginning with the Mishkan and relevant to Israel forever.

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