Jewish Responses to the Global Food Crisis

USY Convention

(ב) וַיֹּ֕אמֶר הִנֵּ֣ה שָׁמַ֔עְתִּי כִּ֥י יֶשׁ־שֶׁ֖בֶר בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם רְדוּ־שָׁ֙מָּה֙ וְשִׁבְרוּ־לָ֣נוּ מִשָּׁ֔ם וְנִחְיֶ֖ה וְלֹ֥א נָמֽוּת׃

"Now I hear," he went on, "that there are rations to be had in Egypt. Go down and procure rations for us there, that we may live and not die."
[JPS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What was Jacob's response to famine?

2. What are contemporary responses to famine?

מניין לרואה את חבירו שהוא טובע בנהר או חיה גוררתו או לסטין באין עליו שהוא חייב להצילו ת"ל לא תעמוד על דם רעך (ויקרא י"ט).

How do we know that if a person sees another person drowning, mauled by beasts, or attacked by robbers, s/he is bound to save him? From the verse, “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor!” (Leviticus 19:16).
[AJWS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What are some ways to help people today that are targeted by violence?
2. What are some ways to help those who are kept poor by a trading and market system that benefits from their poverty?
3. What is the opposite of standing idly by? Does the directive here come with a measurable level of success?

(א) כַּמָּה נוֹתְנִין לְעָנִי, דֵּי מַחְסוֹרוֹ אֲשֶׁר יֶחְסַר לוֹ. כֵּיצַד, אִם הָיָה רָעֵב, יַאֲכִילוּהוּ. הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִכְסוּת, יְכַסוּהוּ. אֵין לוֹ כְּלֵי בָּיִת, קוֹנֶה לוֹ כְּלֵי בָּיִת...וְכֵן לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד. לְפִי מַה שֶּׁצָּרִיךְ.

How much is it appropriate to give to the poor? ‘Sufficient for his needs in that which he lacks.’ If he is hungry, one must feed him. If he needs clothing, one must clothe him. If he lacks housing utensils, one must provide him with housing utensils… To each person according to what he needs.
[AJWS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What is the extent of this law - how do we gauge how much is enough?
2. What is the minimum amount we are to give?
3. Looking globally, how are we doing?