I would really like to send a check to help the people suffering after the earthquake in Haiti. But some of my friends say how could I do that? They say, look there are children going to sleep hungry in Israel. There are families from Gush Katif still waiting for proper housing. The rest of the world isn't rushing to help them. All they have is us. Shouldn't we be helping our own before we help others?


It depends. If the entire mandate of the Jewish People is to preserve itself, then it makes no sense to squander valuable resources on saving other people's lives.

But let's ask a question: When G‑d promised Abraham, "In your children will be blessed all the nations of the world," is this what He had in mind? Was this what Abraham envisioned, that in 3700 years time he would have a museum to preserve his relics?

Or was it Abraham’s dream—and Moses’ vision, and G‑d’s destiny for us—that we would be a force of goodness and kindness in the world, proclaiming to the world that all of humanity is a single family, descended from one human being, the handiwork of one G‑d, all charged with building a world of harmony and peace?

We are not a museum. We are a living, dynamic legacy with a mission of leadership, couriers of light. Today in Haiti, there is no rescue and medical team comparable to the Israeli contingent, the only ones with a complete hospital on the ground with advanced equipment caring for 500 patients at a time. There is no country in the world that has provided as much aid per capita (anywhere close) as Israel. Outside of Israel as well, you will find Jews at the forefront of every organization that is out there to care.

That is our mandate and that has always been our destiny. And we have done a job of which we can be proud.

Halachically speaking, see Yoreh Deah 151:7, where we are told to provide for the needy, even in the case that they are idolaters, even when doing so diminishes funds to our own needy,1 because such are "the ways of peace." As Maimonides wrote, "The Torah was given for one reason only. To make peace in the world." 2

Give to the worthy causes in your own community. Give to our grand extended family in Israel. Yes, they must be our priority. You're right—if we don't help them, no one else will. That's all part of being Jewish. And so is giving a hand to the little boy in Haiti who was just pulled out from under the rubble, just because he's a fellow human being. Because that's the message our Torah has for the world: That we are really all one family.