15 November 2019

"The Contrast Between Israel and Sodom"

17 Marcheshvan 5780
Erev Shabbat Kodesh
Parashat Vayeira
And Hashem said, "Shall I conceal from Abraham what I do, now that Abraham is surely to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him?  For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem, doing charity and justice, in order that Hashem might bring upon Abraham that which He had spoken of him."  (Bereishit 18.18-19)
Stone Edition Chumash Commentary...
The implication of verse 19 is that the seed of Sodom's wickedness lay in its failure to abide by the principles that Abraham would inculcate in his offspring. The cruelties of Sodom have become part of the language as the epitome of selfishness, callousness and depravity, but the root of their evil was greed. Sodom was a rich and fertile region and, as such, it was a magnet for people seeking to make their fortune, as it was for Lot. But the Sodomites wanted to maintain their own prosperity and not be encumbered by a flood of poor immigrants.  The wealthy and well-connected Lots of the world were welcome in Sodom, because they would give more to the economy than they would take.  To discourage undesirable newcomers, however, the Sodomites institutionalized state cruelty, so that it became a crime to feed a starving person or offer alms to  a beggar.  Even the sexual perversion for which Sodom is notorious was employed to keep visitors away.  According to one opinion of the Sages, this cruelty stemmed from an attitude of, "What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours (Avot 5:10), "or, in the popular idiom, "Neither a lender nor a borrower be."  Such selfishness descends to cruelty and perversion - and a metropolis that elevates such behavior to a legitimate way of life forfeits the right to exist.
Volunteers made headlines...when 12 of them were charged with misdemeanor offenses after feeding homeless people in El Cajon, California, but the ban against feeding the homeless is not unique to the city. Dozens across the United States have similar policies that ban food-sharing in public places.
After the charges in El Cajon, activists and attorneys said...that they would file a lawsuit against the city regarding the ban. Leaders called the policy unconstitutional and discriminatory, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Similar stories have been reported across the nation. In December 2017, Adelen McLean was issued a ticket for feeding the homeless in Atlanta's Hurt Park, and in January 2017, seven people in Tampa were arrested for feeding the homeless without a permit.
...NLCHP has seen an increase in laws criminalizing homelessness. "This will continue, especially with the recent beck-pedaling of the federal Justice Department," she said.
In December 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the U.S. Department of Justice pulled back on an Obama-era guidance issued to state and local courts that advocated against imposing fines and fees on poor people.
...Between 2013 and 2015, 26 cities passed food-sharing bans, according to reports from the National Coalition for the Homeless.

Citing the Bible, Federal Lawsuit Challenges Houston’s Ban on Feeding the Homeless

...Randall Kallinen, who has filed numerous civil rights lawsuits in Houston, is representing the activists. In interviews with the Observer, he described the ordinance as “totally ridiculous” and part of an effort to “get the homeless out of town.”

Cities are enacting politics to keep homeless people out of sight and uphold a social order riven by racial and economic inequality



moshe said...

This is so insane but no surprise as it takes place in the most insane and cookoo state in the Union. Don't think California is redeemable; they have crossed every line in every respect. Believe this state has the reincarnations of Sdom & Amora in its midst. They probably feel more for the animals than for the human being as they are treating human beings like animals and birds are when we see signs which say 'Do not feed the animals'. The world has gone bonkers! Suggest all normal people still living there move out as fast as possible.

Yakov Butterfield said...

Now the rents in California are so high that people are living in "Coffins" "It's Cozy" - LA Imports Are Paying $800/Month To 'Live In A Coffin' https://www.zerohedge.com/personal-finance/its-cozy-la-imports-are-paying-800month-live-coffin

Esser Agaroth said...

And San Francisco was also worse than Los Angeles, too. LA was pretty affordable when I was there off and on between '83 and '97. In SFO, you had to know someone who knew someone who had a rent control apt.

Esser Agaroth said...

...And speaking of San Francisco, I remember in the late '80's when people defied the law and handed out food in Golden Gate Park. The concern was the same. What happens if a homeless person gets sick? The response was that no one else was giving them food, so it's the same difference. The finally reached a compromise.

Hotels and restaurants started (slowly) donating to shelters their leftovers.

Yakov Butterfield said...

Jerusalem is not San Francisco
San Francisco has AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, Hepatitis A, Typhus, Tuberculosis, San Francisco Has More Drug Addicts Than Public High School Students, Drug addicts shooting up as commuters walked by in a San Francisco BART station. Homelessness and working for Google. and Crime.
UN Expert says San Francisco reminds her of Indian slums

Esser Agaroth said...

Wasn't trying to make that comparison (חו"ח). I was simply mentioning some history of food distribution to those in need. That being said, we can learn from this, because we cannot remain complacent. I stopped giving monetary tzedaqa to some regulars in JLM, and instead offer to buy them food. That way it goes into their stomachs and not into their veins.

Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea is gaining numbers in Tel Aviv. Yes, Tel Aviv is not Jerusalem. But it only takes one Jew making one mistake. Obviously, we must shun many of the of the policies in the U. S. But, we also learn from the occasional hochma from the non-Jews, and most certainly from their mistakes. It is well worth us having this discussion.

Israel has its food distribution charities, but was far behind places like San Francisco, when it came to restaurants and hotels donating leftover food. I remember arriving in '97, seeing and hearing about all the restaurants who wouldn't even give their employees leftovers to take home. Didn't want to spoil them.

Anonymous said...

Imposing fines & fees isn't Sessions only misdeed. He also cracked down on marijuana and opioids which enabled those in pain to feel better. And what about the FDA criminal suppression of adult stem cells (labelling your OWN body as a "drug")? As a result, an MS patient who was recovering via adult stem cells, was forced to relocate outside the country to continue the effective therapy.