June 04, 2007

Mark 12.38->

There was a great crowd and they listened to him eagerly. He said as he taught them, "Beware of the doctors of the Law, who love to walk up and down in long robes, receiving respectful greetings in the street, and to have the chief seats in synagogues, and places of honor at feasts. These are the men who eat up the property of widows, while they say long prayers for appearance' sake, and they will receive the severest sentence."

Once he was standing opposite the Temple treasury, watching as people dropped their money into the chest. Many rich people were giving large sums. Presently there came a poor widow who dropped in two tiny coins, together worth a farthing.

He called his disciples to him. "I tell you this," he said. "This widow has given more than any of the others, for those others had more than enough for themselves; but she, with less than enough, has given all that she had to live on."


At 7:18 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

This is not a pious recommendation that we give our last dime to some guy in a funny collar. (He's just another version of those "doctors of the Law.)

Jesus is criticising the national cult of his day because that widow with the two coins is supposed to be the beneficiary of all those "large sums;" the part about attending to "the least among us" is pure Torah but isn't the favorite priority of the religious establishment.

Contemptorary version: Jonathon Kozol was invited to give the sermon at a perfectly decent (but large & prosperous) West Coast church, speaking about his book about the children of an inhumanly impoverished parrish in Brooklyn. After the sermon, the congregation was asked to pray for success in collecting a large sum of money for repairs to their own church's roof.

At 1:15 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

I keep finding good things in Alan Lew's books:

"Rabbi Elliot Dorf, one of the leading contemporary scholars of Jewish law, has written that while a balanced budget is a perfectly legitimate social goal, it is totally irrelevant where social welfare is concerned, at least according to Jewish law. By Jewish law, the only thing that may be considered when helping the poor is the need of the poor. We are not allowed to say, We will not care for the poor because the budget won't be balanced if we do.

"Judaism came into a primitive world where the poor were demonized. Poverty was seen as the consequence of a moral fault. The poor didn't deserve to be helped. But Judaism came to say that this is not how heaven sees things. Heaven thinks that the poor are to be helped, not blamed. But the primitive impulse to blame the poor for their plight persists."


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