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Health care

Rabbi Yoel LiebermanTammuz 27, 5777
Question
Hi, On health care debate: What I have seen is that on one side people want universal healthcare and on the other side, people don’t want to provide those kinds of services to so many people A few questions 1. What does the Talmud suggest about these kinds of social service? When we leave the 4 corners of our fields untended isn’t that a social service 2. For those that are worried about the fact that this allows the poor to be lazy, or not go to work, how does the Talmud say to handle this situation Thanks, Mark
Answer
ב"ה Shalom The Bible and Talmud both give special consideration to help the needy and the poor with monetary assistance, charitable aid, loans and giving the various tithes from the agricultural produce and also abandoning the forgotten sheaves and the corners of the fields as you mentioned. The Torah commands these things as something incumbent on the individual, but in the Talmud we see the mobilization of the community for providing food and money to the poor. The Tosefta (Pe'ah 4:9) states: "The tamhui was collected daily, the kupa weekly…Tamhui was for all people, kupa for the poor of that city". I did not come across in the Talmud a concept of socialized medicine, however healing the sick is a highly maintained priority as all know, and the Talmud discusses in many places at length the virtue of tending to the sick. )Nedarim 39b-40a) and tending to the sick come under the general category of "chessed" , the acting of lovingkindness to another. In the State of Israel, there is a concept of socialized medicine which in my opinion stems from the Jewish ideals of loving one's brother, general lovingkindness and the concept of mutual responsibility. The economic aspects of socialized medicine are not my field of knowledge. Therefore, I cannot comment upon the health care debate in the US. The mutual responsibility of the State of Israel, in my opinion falls very much in line with the ideology of Rav Kook zt"l, who wrote 80-90 years ago ) "A state is not ultimate joy of person, but rather it is only like large insurance company. .this can be a said of a regular state . However, this is not true in the case of a state which is fundamentally ideal -- whose very essence contains the ultimate, Divine, ideal -- is the greatest joy of the individual. "This state is our state, Medinat Yisrael (the State of Israel), the foundation of G-d's throne in the world, whose whole desire is that G-d be One and His Name One. This is, indeed, the ultimate happiness." 2. The question you asked requires a lengthy answer, but to keep things short I will simply quote the Rambam, Maimonides, who wrote: That a person should do the utmost and chose a life of misery rather than be dependent upon others financially . He quotes our R. Akiva in the Talmud (Shabbat 118a) who said: "Treat your Sabbath like a weekday (in regard to the meals he has) rather than be dependent on others." The Rambam continues to say, that "Even if a one was an extinguished person and became poor, he should find work even if it is the most despicable such as skinning carcasses and not be dependent on others. He should not say ' I'm a great scholar, I am priest, support me ' .Among the great scholars of the Talmud were hewers of wood, water drawers, and blacksmiths and they did not ask of the community and neither did they take from then when they offered. (Rambam Matnot Aniyim 10;8) All the best Shabbat Shalom
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