The culture of wealth which rules our lives ruthlessly doesn't know about the lack of food. And the lack of food isn't the reason for hunger. The lack of righteousness is. The neo-liberalism which is so in vogue in the past few years has created a significant change in income distribution in the United States, Britain, Russia and in Israel, too. According to experts, including David Harvey in his book A Short History of Neo-Liberalism, the system increases inequality, and serves as a weapon in the inverted "class wars." This is the powerful weapon that the strong use against the weak, and it is intended to bring political and economic power back into the hands of the elite economic classes who possess financial wealth. Inspired by this system, giant corporations expand, becoming mini-kingdoms that cruelly rule over their subjects, who lack all rights, since the corporate sovereign believes that the system of liberal rights is unnecessary, that poverty is a sign of individual weakness and not a result of political decisions. This view can be summed up by a key saying of Margaret Thatcher's: "There's no such thing as a society. There is only individuals." In his book, A Guide for the Perplexed, Moses Maimonides creates a clear distinction between righteousness, righteous charity and charity. Any payment of a debt to another according to the laws of the land would be viewed as righteousness. Righteous charity, in contrast, which is also derived from justice, is not incumbent on an individual because of any economic laws, but rather because of the duty that a person believes his soul must be due. According to Maimonides, charity is something that is far beyond any sense of duty. Our generation has completely confused these terms, so that duty has been defined as righteousness or charity, while the poor are seen as those who are guilty of their own situation and the rich are the omnipotent lords of their fate. An Israeli example of the system, in brief: After a long period of freezing wages in the public sector, the salaries of the highest-ranking public servants grew by a minimum of NIS 2,000 per month - that same month most of the national insurance payments, paid to more than one million Israelis, were increased by 2.7 percent, and the elderly received 1.9%. In plain English: a 70-year-old pensioner, part of the generation that founded the state, received an additional NIS 20, while the finance minister at the time received a hundred-fold increase!!! - NIS 2,000. Anyone who still doesn't understand the system should visit the Israeli banking system and will understand that this system employs some 35,000 workers and several thousand contract workers and individuals employed through manpower companies. As a result of the necessary improvements in efficiency, many workers with extended benefits were fired, and, in their stead, the contract workers, who have no social benefits, were brought in - without tenure, without benefits. And so the banks have created three castes - the managers who pocket salaries of NIS 350,000 or more; the tenured workers, who earn high salaries and are protected by the workers' unions; and the drones - the workers employed by the manpower companies who earn little more than the minimum wage, under exploitative conditions, without proper social benefits. My father, may he rest in peace, would not use his salary for the household, before he tithed 10%, in order to fulfill the commandment of tithing, and another substantial portion of his salary was distributed for charity and good deeds. It wasn't only the poor who came for his help. Sometimes there were established people, who suffered a momentary setback or who faced temporary distress. Whoever believes that economic growth will wipe out poverty will soon learn otherwise. Well before we adopt righteous giving or charity, righteousness can narrow the margins of poverty, because justice would distribute the blessings of our warehouses, the gifts of God, equitably and fairly among those who were created in His image, as were we all, but whose fate has not treated them well. The chance to realize divine righteousness is in our hands. If we understand that it is our true duty, and not merely a moral duty. The writer is chairman of the Meir Panim chain of soup kitchens and publisher of the haredi weekly Bakehilla.

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