“The Violence of Poverty” (Aryeh Cohen)

poverty

A Talmud piece,  “The Violence of Poverty” by Aryeh Cohen in Leonard J. Greenspoon (ed), Wealth and Poverty in Jewish Tradition. You can read it here.

The idea expressed here that poverty is what Bruno Latour called an “actant” jibes neatly with Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, which I’m reading now. Poverty acts on the human person, whom it disfigures.

The ubiquity of these images of the violence of poverty might cause one to think that the rabbinic response to poverty would be equally dramatic and sweeping. This is not necessarily true. Side by side with the dramatic images of d1e impoverished, the obligations of poverty relief are laid out in a manner that is reasoned and moderate. There is no demand a la Peter Singer or Matthew’s Jesus24 rhar one sell everything beyond the necessities of survival and give them ro the poor. The opposite is true. The obligations of poverty relief are bureaucratized and normalized” (p.40)

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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3 Responses to “The Violence of Poverty” (Aryeh Cohen)

  1. Bob Row says:

    When the late rabbi Marhall Meier founded the first Masorti community in the wealthy neighbordhood of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, he imposed a mitzvah upon his constituency: for everything they’d fund for themselves (like a kindergarten), they should fund another one for the poor. During the military dictatorship he also risked his life claiming for the Human Rights of the imprisoned and “desaparecidos”, Jewish and Goyim alike. He raised the consideration of the Jewish community as a moral force in the country. After his departure back to the States, regrettably, not all the rabbis he formed continued after his steps; and the wealthy part of the Jewish turned to watch after their own interests, supporting the rightists Pro Party (a Masorti rabbi serves as representative for them) and Nethanyahu.

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