The Torah Doesn’t Believe In Handouts

Leviticus 19: 9 ” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

In a 2008 lecture on Leviticus 19, Dennis Prager says: We have ethical responsibilities to the downtrodden. God is the source of ethics.

The Torah does not speak here of handouts. The poor have to come to the field. They have to work for it. They’re collecting it for themselves. They’re not getting it for breathing.

It is corrupting to give people things for free.

My father was the president of the synagogue we attended. I remember only a few things from that period, but one of them was how constantly he would say, “It’s the ones we give free memberships to who complain the most.”

The ones who donate the most complain the least. Taking is corrupting.

Because the poor are not getting handouts, their dignity is preserved. They could come at night and collect from the field.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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