What should we – individually and collectively – be doing differently about hunger issues in our community?
One verse in Deuteronomy says that “the poor will never cease from the land” and another verse there says, “Surely there will be no poor among you.” How do we resolve this conflict? The Talmud answers that in an ideal setting, there would be no poor, but in the world the way it is today there will always be poor. We have a saying which says, “The work is not yours to finish, but you are not free to absolve yourself of it,” meaning that we cannot necessarily dream of personally eradicating hunger in this flawed world. What we can do is contribute to organizations which help the poor, make sure those people we do know or have access to, can get what they need and do we can try to do what we can. As far as the systemic issues of a lack of food accessibility in Memphis, there should be an outcry from us about this. We can complain to our local stores that they don’t have branches in certain neighborhoods and we can support efforts to make healthy food available to those in the areas that do not currently have grocery stores. We do need to remember that the highest form of charity is to help those closest to us and make sure they are provided for, and to help those who go hungry, not only to find food, but to find a job. As such, programs that work with education, job training, and keeping kids away from drugs and gangs are as important as anti-hunger programs in as much as they deal with the root causes of such poverty. We live in a world in which “the poor will never cease,” but we need to try to move closer to a world in which, “there will be no poor among” us. If each of us did our share to reach that goal, we could be that much closer to achieving it.