In Israel, there’s one word that means “close” family. This would include blood relatives — parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, nephews, and nieces, and of course, grandchildren. There is a another pair of words that means “the rest of the family.” In literal translation, it means “close far” and includes in-laws, non-relatives who are like family, step-children, and family that isn’t exactly family but are definitely included in your tribe. You don’t have to like all of them. You may dislike a bunch of them for any number of reasons, but when times get tough, the family — from nearest to furthest — hangs together.
They contribute money to the “general collections” when a newly married couple needs a house because you need a much bigger down-payment for a house than we need in this country and rates are a lot higher. Money is collected for kids who need to study abroad. Some degrees are not easily available in Israel — veterinarian used to be one of them, but I have no idea if that is still true. Advanced medical studies in surgery often required a trip to the U.K., U.S., or France and sometimes, that same child who by then isn’t a child because he/she had been through the army, college, medical school, more medical school, internship, and more.
No one felt demeaned by getting the money from a family collection. It was, after all, family. If one member of the family managed to get a lot richer than the others, at least some of the money was shared. Sometimes that meant buying a multi family dwelling and inviting everyone who could fit inside to live there. It could get complicated to explain relationships, which is where “carov-rakhok” (kah-rove — rahkh (gutteral) ohk) was the simplest explanation. I’m pretty sure Arabs have a similar arrangement. Despite wars and land disputes through the ages, Arabs and Israelis have more in common that either of them is usually willing to admit.
Even the two languages are similar, though Arabic is a much bigger language than Hebrew since it has been used continuously while Hebrew was a language used for studying Torah and wasn’t revived as a spoken language until the 1940s. Even in Jesus’ time, the spoken language was not Hebrew but Aramaic plus whatever language the conquering country was using.
The point is if one member of the family, close or distant, got wealthy, the wealth got spread around. It would have been considered bizarre behavior for one part of the family to keep everything and share nothing.
Right now, there’s a member of our family who for me would fit into the realm of the “close-far” group having no blood relationship to me, but being part of the in-law group. Family, but no blood ties. He has gotten downright rich and recently bought a house that the rest of couldn’t afford the garage much less nearly a million dollars worth of cars. Nor can I imagine having that kind of money while having a mother and sister who live in subsidized housing and can’t afford a new set of tires. I simply couldn’t do it, no matter how I felt about them on a personal level. I would be ashamed of myself.
So my question is, if you had that amount of available money, would you feel that you should keep it all or would you try to make sure that at least the people in your immediate family got a “bump” in their lifestyle? Is greed a perfect lifestyle choice?
Greed is destroying us. I think the glorifying of greed is the devils paw. When he sees how thoroughly it has ruined humankind, he laughs. It began with an apple, but will end in the destruction of the Garden.
What do YOU think?