Dan Juster

Tikkun Ministries International
"Biblical justice is rooted in the idea of God's intended destiny for each person. Any policy or legislation that prevents the fulfillment of an individual's destiny is unjust. Equality is part of destiny with regard to opportunity and justice in the courts. Every person is of great value because they are created in the image of God."

The streets of Tel Aviv filled with young adults and their many supporters; tens of thousands of people came to protest. What brought them out onto the streets? Huge frustration over housing costs. The working middle class can no longer afford Israel's expensive house prices, especially in the Tel Aviv area and in Jerusalem. Other areas are also highly priced. The primary reason for this is a housing shortage. I used to say that living in Israel must be a mathematical miracle beyond our understanding; the salaries are half, and the taxes are double, while the cost of goods is higher. Despite all these difficulties affordable shelter is a basic necessity in society.

The Socialistic Response of the Left

It was not long before the leaders of the political left turned the protests into a call for socialistic remedies. These ideas included building public housing, subsidizing home buyers, increasing wages and redistributing income from the very rich. Sound familiar? Ironically, Israel's past Socialist policies are the primary reason for the problem.

The Economists Provide Solutions

Several economists have written fine articles in the Jerusalem Post with clear directions for a way forward. Here are some of their thoughts.

1. In Israel, most land is owned by the state and leased for housing that is purchased by the people. There is a great bureaucracy (read: expensive, slow, political) that hinders and delays the approval of housing projects. This process needs to be streamlined.

2. Israel cannot afford to build sprawling suburban type housing or it will lose its agricultural land and intensify commuting problems. Rather, there should be incentives to build high density housing in cities and properly zoned areas beyond the big cities. The private sector can build the housing if there is sufficient profit to make it worthwhile.

The Great Disparities of Wealth

The wider protests raise other issues for which there are no easy answers. The wealth of Israel is too concentrated in a small number of families. Conservative politicians, as well as liberals, are concerned about this. However, the socialistic solution where the government distributes, owns and controls everything destroys entrepreneurial vision and the needed leadership for businesses that expand the economy for all. Socialism has a wrong definition of justice, namely equality, which leads to the inability to reward effort, recognize gifting, and allow for income disparity. Equality is pushed so far that some do not even allow distinctions between sexes. Biblical justice is rooted in the idea of God's intended destiny for each person. Any policy or legislation that prevents the fulfillment of an individual's destiny is unjust. Equality is part of destiny with regard to opportunity and justice in the courts. Every person is of great value because they are created in the image of God.

The Rejection of the Idea of Social Justice

Some conservatives, however, mistakenly reject any idea of social justice. They argue for a society where all are able to live out a rugged individualism. Social justice is a biblically derived idea only when social justice is applied according to, and has its base in biblical principles. If Israel could discover the biblical teaching on social justice and apply it, it would be wonderful example for the whole world, but maybe we will have to wait until the Days of the Messiah.

The Bible and Social Justice

The Bible allows for people to trade, to diligently farm the land, to manufacture goods to be sold to others and more. That some will be rich and some of more modest means is an accepted result. However, the Bible provides some very clear guidelines for social justice.

First of all, biblical law prevents the great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. The Year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25 stipulates that the land be redistributed every 50 years to the original families of ownership. So one may accumulate land and riches from its production, but only until the 50th year. Then new opportunity is brought to the larger society. In addition, loans are released every 7th year. Debt is one of the great means for getting rich by oppressing others in need. The Bible precludes this. There are laws requiring leaving the corners of the field and the gleanings for the poor. There is also a tithe every third year that is distributed to the poor. Just weights and measures were enjoined. In addition, families were responsible for taking care of their young and their old. Punishment for non-capital crimes emphasized making appropriate restitution plus a penalty amount. The Bible's laws of morality produced stable families that are a key to prosperity.

Applying the Bible to Modern Societies

Today, since we are no longer an agrarian society, we need to look at applying social justice principles in a very different context. Laws allowing for a new start through bankruptcy are parallel to the laws of forgiving debt in the Bible. One key for improving social justice is that those with wealth would be taxed if they put their money into shelters that only benefit them, but would be rewarded by investing in ways that expand the economy and bring financial benefit to both employees and investors. In addition, there can be taxes to provide for the truly needy - parallel to the poor tithe and leaving food in the fields.

We need to understand that expanding government agencies often swallow the very wealth that is intended for transfer to the needy; creative tax donations to charity could provide a way to channel the funds directly to those in need. Many of the poor will not overcome poverty without discipleship in skills and responsibility. The voluntary institutions that raise funds and implement programs to improve the lot of the needy are the best providers for many of the functions of a compassionate society. They can institute discipleship programs as well. This is why Yeshua following communities are a key - they can provide the discipleship that releases impoverished people from the thinking and habits that hinder their ability to prosper.

As an Israeli citizen, I hope that our country does not slip back to the stagnation of socialism, but finds dynamic solutions that are fitting for a more enterprising society. The Bible can provide guidance. Pray for Israel as we go through these struggles and pray for young Messianic Jews to take their part in society to help solve these problems. This is part of our witness.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International Donate to Tikkun International.
Let us know what you think - why not comment to this article. The authors of these articles are often involved in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to most comments. As is normal with print and online magazines, Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.
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23:58 04Oct11 Amos ben Michael -
Thank you for a clear and concise article on some of the most relevant issues of our day!

18:05 05Oct11 Fran Slate -
From your mouth to HaShem's ears and from His mouth to the hearts and minds of the Israeli leaders who are responsable for initiating changes in this society. May He open their eyes to see, their ears to hear, and their faith to move forward under His Divine guidance.

00:20 06Oct11 Daniel Buffenmeyer -
This is a very good article. I feel that the solution to all of this is simple, yet outside of our grasp. Indeed, the whole world would have to work together as one man to make it happen. The world would need someone to take control and organize it all for everyone. (Hint, hint ... Yeshua!)
The system we have built is not sustainable and cannot be fixed. No solutions, no matter how brilliant, can repair it unless the flawed foundation is addressed. The foundations must be fixed and a new system rebuilt. This new system, and the answer to everyone's problem is agrarian society. "Every man a farmer" should be the new motto. Indeed, when Yeshua returns, every man will have his own vine and fig tree.
Here are some of the benefits of a global agrarian society. An abundance of food. No one would be without. No large cities anymore. Only tiny dwellings with food production strewn across the globe. Plenty of exercise to promote health. Plenty of healthy vegetables and fruits in abundance to promote health. A little bit of time for labor each day with plenty of time to enjoy friends and family in a garden utopia. Everybody sharing a little work each day so the world can reap an abundance.
This will never happen with the system we've created. We will never see that kind of living again until Yeshua returns.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I wonder, do you think there is enough wealth in an agrarian set up for 7 billion people? Maybe there is a way you have thought to solve this.

00:39 06Oct11 M -
I do not see this as a solution! How adout this: "Sell what you have and follow Me," saith the Lord. The early assembly sold their gooods and distributed as such as had need. Also, taxation is is basically a gentile concept, so why are we trying to fix our economic problems with worldly ideas! Certainly this is problematic; for none of the systems in place are a solution. The only original WORD is THE WORD, who has already spoken. Give and it shall be given unto you! No legislation needed, just some Yeshua-given compassion. If a man sees a brother in need and does nothing how dwelleth the love of God in him. Moreso, how can I say I love G-D and hate my brother? He is a liar for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen how can he love G-D whom he hath not seen. We show our love one for another: by this shall men know know you are my diciples! Furthermore, love your enemies, give your clothing, go the extra mile! This is all kingdom living now if you will but respond; this and more contained in the T-R and the new testament! Yeshua already has shown The Way! Economic routes Man has both systematzied and captialized on others' demise. Even our own church assemblies practice the Word but have relegated this to another organization; few feeling the singe of need in their well kept homes but there are a few in the remnant! Follow HIM!

  -- Dr Juster replies: I would not say that taxation is a gentile idea. The Torah itself makes one of the tithes every few years a poor tithe. In addition, leaving the gleanings and corners of the field for the poor is a kind of a tax. Yet, God warns Israel about centralized government and high taxes in the book of Samuel. So much that government does could be done by godly people.

20:30 11Oct11 nancy -
Pardon the non-spiritual comment! Concerning Israel's "housing crisis" there can't be a competitive market because whenever Israel builds anything new it's world news even when it was done at "Israel proper" where even Mrs Clinton complained about it without checking this fact beforehand and it'll get worse with every additional slice of land handed over. O how I pray Israel turns to the LORD instead of "Egypt".

13:37 01Nov11 Justin Thomas -
Great article with God's wisdom that brings clarity, and also practical steps forward. Thank you Dan for speaking truth that warms my spirit as I read it.

16:50 01Nov11 M Sampson -
This piece by Dan Juster is outstanding. I know people who are strong socialists, and this article helps me understand them and our polital system

10:06 01Dec11 Holly Wallace -
Thank you for clarifying and articulating the issues of our day from a biblical perspective.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Marty Shoub: Yes & Amen
Eitan Shishkoff: The Pleasure of Doing Good
Eitan Shishkoff: Metulah and Security
Asher Intrater: Feast of Tabernacles and the Millennial Kingdom
Betty Intrater: Visit to Auschwitz