Friday, December 8, 2006

Misguided Kindness?

As was widely reported in the press, the residents of a well-known Chareidi (ultra-Orthodox) city in Israel donated thousands of dollars in medical equipment to its neighboring Arab village.

When I first read the report, I was shocked and surprised.

Anyone familiar with the recent economic situation in Israel is painfully aware that there are thousands upon thousands of Jewish families living in utter poverty. The community with the highest percentage of poor families is the Chareidi community itself. One simple call to Chasdei Ne’omi, the Israeli equivalent of Tomchei Shabbos, can confirm this unfortunate fact.

It is also common knowledge that during this summer’s war with Hezbollah, thousands of Israelis lost their homes and all of their possessions, leaving them penniless.

Understandably so, I could not believe that an all Chareidi town, known for its own widespread poverty, would actually raise funds, not to feed its own poor, not to support Chareidi causes, and not for Jewish or Israeli causes in general, but rather to help the neighboring Arab village.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not a racist, nor am I oblivious to the obvious need for Kiddush Hashem. But in light of the above, shouldn’t that money have been better donated towards a Jewish charity? Shouldn’t donating desperately needed medical equipment for Zaka or Magen Dovid Adom, take priority over donating them to an Arab village?

Even amongst ourselves, there is a clear-cut Halachah of Aniyei Ircha Kodmim; the poor of one’s town take precendence over the poor of another town. Certainly the poor amongst us Yidden take precedence over the poor amongst others.

The only plausible justification for this bizarre story is that the residents of the Jewish city are afraid of terrorism and crime emanating from the neighboring Arab village, and therefore felt it was a worth-while investment to donate medical equipment, thereby fostering goodwill and better relations, which will hopefully help them in the long run.

However, barring the above rationale, it would seem like the self-destructive attitude of the radical left-wing is seeping into our community, even at the expense of Jewish lives & Halachah.

A troubling phenomenon indeed.

An interesting postscript to this story is that when Hamas leaders learned of the Arab mayor accepting Jewish donations, they immediately had him deposed and replaced by a Hamas loyalist.

One wonders if after the next targeted assassination by Israel, will we see wounded Hamas terrorists being whisked away in an ambulance donated by Jews. How ironic.


Anonymous said...

As always, you raise a great point.

Rafi G said...

it was very troubling. You raise some good questions to consider. I wish I knew somebody there I could ask for more details of what happened and why it happened...

Anonymous said...

The halacho of 'mifarnisim aneyey aku'm im anayey yisroel m'pney aiveh' applies even (1)when like always there is limited funds for Jewish causes (2)according to some opnions even if the nonjew didn't openly solicit in order to create shalom.I take it for granted that was the motive in the above story.
As a related point I feel it important that members of the frum community should not ignore those who collect for nonjewish charties in front of Shoprite and other place due to the halacho above.It is particularly important around veterans day to give to those who collect for poor veterans due to hakoros h'tov.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...


Senorita said...

When are we going to wake up and realise the Arabs are not people we can reckon with. The want the next 'final solution' and nothing short of that. Dealing with them as human beings is of no use.

steve said...

As usual, a great post. I always thought it was only the left-wing secular Israelis that did such things as raise money for Arabs. I guess these "chareidim" never learned what "lo techonem" means.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Dec 10, 1:22 –
Thank you.

Rafi G –
If you do, let us know.

Anonymous Dec 10, 11:19 –
The key word is “IM Aniyei Yisroel”. In other words, if you are raising money for a good cause, one should distribute to Goyim ALSO. However, to raise funds EXCLUSIVELY for them, at a time and place that there are so of us in need, is totally wrong.

Your second point I do agree with. One should not be the cause of Chillul Hashem by ignoring these charity collectors. Personally, I always try to give. There is so much Chillul Hashem in the world; at least I can try to offset a tiny part of it.

Socialworker/frustratedmom –
Yes. Unless the true explanation is that they did it head-off future terrorism from that village, as I conjectured in my post.

Senorita –
Your point is well taken. However, historically Arabs have been better to us than Christians. Perhaps we can experience this once again.

Steve –
Lo Techoneim would not apply if they felt it was necessary to head-off future terrorist attacks. Perhaps that was their intention. I’m still wondering.

Anonymous said...

It is a machlokes Rashi and the Ra'an if we make a sperate collection for nonjews m'pney aiveh.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous Jan 4 –
If I’m not mistaken, that is referring specifically to a case where there are non-Jews living amongst the Jews. Hence, if we only support the Jews, it can cause hatred amongst the non-Jews who feel left out. However, to make a special drive to raise funds for Arabs living in a separate village would not be included in the above.

Alex said...

I think, Friends of Efrat is the best Jewish charity around. It simultaneously achieves major religious and political aims. I found it here and donated that same day which is sort of unusual for me.