In a post I wrote last Friday, I promised to give a spiritual spin on the economic stimulus package recently passed by the Congress. Before I get to that, though, I want to respond to some of the comments that came in on that post. Here are two of them:

"While you think that giving money to the public is a good thing to do, you should be aware that it only make the poor people poorer, and the rich people richer"—Margaret Granut, MI.

"America needs a stimulus package like an Alcoholic needs another shot! We need to curb OUR spending and Credit Card usage!"—Richard.

Point well taken. Throwing money at the needy isn't the long-term solution. Yet the Torah tells us to give charity. This means that while "tough love" and encouraging self-sufficiency is important, there is also a time and place for giving a needy person a needed "shot in the arm" and the ability to get himself back on his feet. And it seems that politicians across the aisle agree that now is such a time. I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that they are correct.

Now, back to the "spiritual spin":

(I hope I'm not oversimplifying... If you are an economist, maybe now is a good time to read my other posts :) )

In a democratic, free-market society, the government taxes its citizens—whether through appropriating part their income, sales taxes, property taxes, or in America, all of the above and more too... The revenues from these taxes are then given back to the citizenry in the form of services. Security, roads, hospitals, emergency services, schools and more.

The rest of the citizens' income is spent at their discretion. But this spending, too, benefits the general economy, and ultimately increases the government's tax intake—and, in turn, the amount of services they can offer. It's a big wheel...

But when things are going belly-up, the government steps in and infuses some cash back into the economy—stimulating commerce that will benefit the economy as a whole, and get the wheel turning again.

These economic principles mirror the "spiritual economy." G‑d gives us all life, money, talents, etc. He then asks us to give back a percentage of these commodities, such as charity, money spent on mitzvot, and a Torah education for our children. But these "taxes" are not meant to line G‑d's pockets, He throws them right back at us in the form of more health, wealth, and miscellaneous services.

Our remaining "non-taxed" resources are then spent at our discretion—but they, too, are for the betterment of society. We are to use them in productive manners, and all with the objective of having more resources to give to G‑d and our fellows.

At times, however, a person's spiritual economy is tanking. He's in deep debt: using more than he can afford to give back. At such a time, it is G‑d's turn to step in and give a little boost. If He gives a little special attention – some more health, wealth, and peace of mind – the person will be able to get back on his feet and become a productive member of the spiritual economy.

Am I far out? Let me know!

Have a great Shabbos.