If we accept that giving to the poor and an emphasis on Tzedakah are Mitzvot that are repeatedly noted within Tanakh - for example some Midrashic commentary suggests that the sin of Sodom was actually a lack of compassion for others: "What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours" … some say that this is the type of Sodom (Avot)" - does this not suggest that we require the continued existence of poverty (of the inequality distribution of goods in the above example) to be able to perform this Mitzvah?

Does this suggest we should accept some degree in poverty in our societies and not attempt to create a society free of poverty, or we would not be able to perform these Mitzvot?

  • 5
    mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0515.htm#11 "For the poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying: 'Thou shalt surely open thy hand unto thy poor and needy brother, in thy land.'" We should attempt and we will not succeed.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 22:54
  • I remember learning a Rambam (Hil. Teshuvah?) that said the whole world has an equal number of sins and merits, which is why we are neither destroyed nor redeemed, and suggested that every sin is offset by someone else's merit, and vice versa. My Havrutha and I got hung up for the rest of the night on the concept that any Mitzvah we did would necessarily mean someone else was simultaneously sinning.
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 23:22
  • see this question, especially the second story quoted in the question: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/10130/…
    – Menachem
    Commented Apr 15, 2013 at 23:40
  • Aside from the religious answer, from a practical point of view, so long as work is still necessary (i.e. we are not in a post scarcity society) there will always be poor and rich people.
    – Ariel
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 3:10
  • The question we could pose is should we attempt to create a society free of these forms of inequality, if this would then mean we aren't able to perform this Mitzvah
    – student
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 11:37


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