Sunday, Sixty Minutes interviewed Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who is Jewish. The reporter asked him if there is something in the Jewish faith -- such as helping the poor -- that pushes Jews to vote for Democrats. The reporter went on to quote an unnamed blogger who attacked Cantor for "Abandoning the poor and cutting taxes for the rich... Judaism mandates that the community take care of those in need."
The above statement goes with the assumption that the only way of giving charity is through government. The set-up of the interview goes with the falsehood that Republicans are anti-poor, despite the fact that the Republican Congress under Bush 43 increased spending on some poor-programs twice as fast as did President Clinton, and despite the fact that Republican lawmakers on average give way more charity than do Democrats. But this aside, the fact of the matter is that the Conservative way of helping others is in line with the Torah (Old Testament) and fits with Jewish By-Laws overall:
- In Egypt, after seven years of wealth and a clear warning by Joseph that seven hunger years are coming, some people didn't stack up enough, and/or ran out of food too fast. Instead of just handing out the harvest that he stored away, Joseph asked people to 'pay' in form of giving up their fields. When people ran out of fields, Joseph didn't just hand out checks for the poor. He instead (created an environment for economic growth. How? He) gave seeds and the masses needed to work on the fields with the hopes that things will grow and they will in return have what to eat.
- Once the grain grew, Joseph didn't take away fifty percent of it as Government does today, nor did he make a difference between those who were successful in taking care of the field versus those who lazied around or simply failed. Instead, everyone needed to pay the government a flat tax of only twenty percent. (The expected seven hunger years, ended after five years.)
- The Torah says "Oozoyv Tazoyv Eemoy," this means that if a Camel falls under the weight of its load you should help only if the boss himself is ready to help unload! If he sits on the side and asks you to work, you can walkway! Furthermore, because the load hurts the Camel, you have to help to unload (again, only help). But to load it back up, you can ask to be paid. If the boss refuses, you can walk away.
- Jewish Law calls for people to give ten percent (a tenth) of their net income for Charity. Anyone who hands out more than twenty percent is called a spender. The ten percent goes for charity; not for government that over-pays underperforming workers who run waste-fraud-abuse-filled programs to 'help' the poor.
- The purist way of charity according to the Jewish By-Laws -- is to teach a person a trait; not to give him money for fifty years in a row.
- Talmud calls for Congregations -- not governments -- to collect money before Passover to help the poor. In fact, I don't recall any place in the Torah, Talmud or Jewish By-Laws (Shilchun Oorech) that calls for government to take away money from the rich to give for the poor, certainly not when the poor largely have flushable bathrooms; heat, water, electricity, TVs, cell phones and everything else in the middle.
- A total of millions -- if not billions -- of dollars is raised each year from Jewish philanthropists, and from average workers and from caring community members to help others. All this is without the Government being involved. No, a rich person does not give $100,000 in charity just to save $16,000 in taxes (if -- as Warren Buffet claims -- the tax rate for the rich is only sixteen percent). People give charity because they care; because they were raised to help others. The tax benefit is just a small bonus versus the larger amount given by the donor.
The reason why most Jews vote for the Democrats is simple: Most U.S. Jews are not-religious and many of them are seething with anti-Religion! Thus, the Democratic Party appears to be the best home for those Jews. This is one of the reasons why Orthodox Jews tilt towards the Republican Party. (I explained it in more detail in this three-minute audio).
Yossi Gestetner was a four-year student at the Rabbinical Seminary of Adas Yereim. Yossi blogs at GestetnerUpdates.com.