In loving memory of Barry Lionel Taylor 11th August 2012 ( benyamin labe ben pinchas 23 av 5772 )
Social justice lies at the heart of the Jewish people
“How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob…” (Numbers 24: 5)
We don’t know whether Bilaam, the gentile prophet prophesied the protest tents of the Israeli social justice movement, but other prophets certainly identified with the spirit of the struggle. Most famously, Amos, the prophet from Tekoa resolutely insisted that social justice lies at the heart of Judaism.
Currently, the gap between the rich and the poor in Israel is one of the widest in the developed world. The protestors object to this, and the ancient prophet shared their concerns. He railed against a society which taxed the poor beyond measure, while the rich lived in decadent luxury. This, he states is intolerable and unsustainable:
“Therefore, because you trample upon the poor, and because you exhort taxes on their grain, you have built houses of carved stone, but you won’t live in them; you have planted lush vineyards, but you won’t drink their wine” (Amos 5: 11).
His warning remains potent. Israel will only maintain law and order and persuade our young people to sacrifice years of their lives serving in the army if they feel that society treats them fairly. They need to know that their political and religious leaders are looking out for their needs.
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