Bend the Arc’s attempt to put a Judaic spin on their political campaign to encourage our lawmakers to pass legislation that would eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent only is ludicrous.
Certainly, our Torah enjoins every individual (not just the top 2 percent) to help the widows and orphans, the poor, the disabled and the elderly. And certainly those persons with more resources should give more than those with fewer resources. But it has never been suggested in any of our biblical or rabbinic literature that Jews should beseech their government to tax the wealthy in order to give the proceeds of those taxes to the needy. This would especially apply to Bend the Arc’s current campaign, where it would be very difficult to determine how much of the extra tax collected would be given to the needy and how much would be given to “pork” and boondoggles.
If Bend the Arc is truly interested in encouraging wealthy Jews to give more of their resources to help society, a far superior and effective way would be to start a pledge campaign in which they would strive to get all Jews (and why not even non-Jews?) whose taxable income is over $250,000 to pledge that if the Bush tax cuts are not rescinded, they will donate 10 percent of their taxable income in excess of $250,000 to the charities of their choice. Of course, this amount is to be over and above the amount given to charity the previous year. This pledge is to be in force as long as the Bush tax cuts are in effect.
With such a pledge campaign, the donors will be willingly giving their money to charity, an essential component of fulfilling the commandment to give tzedakah, and we will be sure that all of the money will be going to charity.