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Health, Nutrition & Torah: Va’yishlach

| November 24, 2010

The Text:

Genesis 32:3-36 Jacob has not yet reconciled with his brother Esau.  In this parsha, Jacob is chosen by God and is renamed “Israel,” or one who struggles with God.

32:25 “Jacob was left alone.  And a figure wrestled with him until the break of dawn.  When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he wrenched Jacob’s hip at its socket, so that the socket of his hip was strained as he wrestled with him.”

The Context:

The intense interaction between Jacob and the divine being is one of the most memorable stories in the Torah.  After a spiritual struggle, Jacob is left with a physical reminder of that special moment.

What it Means for Advocates:

When hunger is extreme, the body shows physical signs of starvation.  However, everyday, people who are hungry go through their life with no external sign of their suffering.  The issue of anonymity and hunger is significant.  Programs like food stamps use the most current technology to shield users from embarrassment.  And food banks are often set up to have the feel of a grocery store, even offering clients the opportunity to choose certain essentials.  So while we protect community members from embarrassment, sometimes this anonymity makes hunger impossible to detect.  This has become more true over the past decade, as we have seen the rise of a new class of people:  the “working poor.”  Two-thirds of the children growing up in poverty in the United States have one or more parents who work, and one-third have a parent working full-time, year round.  We might assume that working parents can always provide for their children, but sadly this is not the case.

Educate yourself about welfare reform and the importance of a living wage for all working people.  What is our responsibility, as Jews and as citizens of the world, to help families become self-sufficient and thrive?

Compare the minimum wage with a “living wage”.  What is the dissonance between the two?

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