“If your brother becomes impoverished and his hand falters with you, you shall hold on to him [strengthen him]…so that he can live with you” (Leviticus 25:35).
This powerful statement from the Bible at first glance seems to instruct Jewish people to give charity to impoverished people. It could, perhaps, refer to loaning money to another needy person. However, both of these commandments are taught elsewhere in the Bible. Jewish people believe that there is not even a letter that is superfluous in the Bible. Therefore, when one comes across seemingly unnecessary words in the Torah one is forced to ask oneself what we were meant to learn from them.
In this case, the phrase, “and his hand falters” seems to be excessive- why could G-d not have stopped simply at “If your brother becomes impoverished”? Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the famous medieval commentator (commonly known as Rashi), used homiletic teachings on the Bible (Midrash) to explain. Rashi explains that it is one’s obligation to strengthen a needy person already when his hand starts to falter and not to wait for him to fall to the ground. It is much harder to raise someone from the ground than it is to help him when he starts to falter.
Unfortunately we are living in times when international boycotts of Israel have become extremely fashionable. Israeli products are snubbed; musical artists cancel visits at the last minute. The wonderment expressed over sixty years ago when the Jewish people miraculously succeeded in returning to Israel after a break of over two thousand years has faded away. The Sages teach us that three things are acquired through suffering: Torah, Israel and the Next World (Berachot 5). People living in Israel in our times are testimony to this remark. Some truly incredible people live in Israel; some of the most stunning Torah bursts forth from Zion and remarkable discoveries in a range of fields have impressed the world yet at the same time we have paid a dear price. Thousands upon thousands of beautiful Israeli people have been killed in terrorist attacks, in the line of duty when protecting their home-land and just for being Jewish people living in their home-land. The financial situation is such that one in three children in Israel lives under the poverty line, people commonly hold down at least two jobs just to keep their heads above water.
This is the time, more than any other, to buy Israeli products. Judaica items created in Israel, pieces produced by Israeli artists and Dead Sea Products are just a few examples of things that can be bought today with a click of the mouse. Help your Israeli brethren live honorably, support them from afar. The purchase of such products also counteracts the boycotting campaigns which often have direct links with terrorist organizations. Be a part of the miraculous return to the Jewish home-land and help strengthen the pioneers of today who, despite everything, are planting the roots in the country for when you get here….