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?

Categories: Anecdote, Family, questions

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19 replies

  1. Helping each other out should the norm, not the exception… especially within the family. But we do tend to forget that the human family extends a long way.
    I know full well I would not have made it this far without the help and quiet generosity of daily, friends and strangers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We ought to all be caring for one another. SO many people have been ill and many of them didn’t go to the hospital. Our world has grown so much more selfish both financially and emotionally. If Owen hadn’t come back, I am sure we wouldn’t have made it either.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If I had money to spare, I’d definitely help my family. Right now we contribute towards our children’s household in unobtrusive ways. They wouldn’t take anything in an open way. But as they say, sharing is caring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. very true Marilyn, families usually help each other,but as Jesus says,those in charge of the vineyard better produce the required fruit, as Jesus refers to Isaiah, regularly too, one has to wonder why the angst over who He is,rather where the Spirit came from should be enough, as Islam recognises Jesus’s role, as do all of faith, but remember, what blessing can you expect if you only help your own, why was it written, perhaps to increase our compassion towards all,and therefore, Heaven on earth,amen,hope the birds are doing well on your diet of kindness, regards to Gary,amen


    • I agree. I’m not dogmatic and I have no religious structure, but all religions agree on this. Giving is good. Greed is not good. Selfishness is wrong. It used to be normal to share, but these days we seem to think there’s something wrong with sharing. We talk about it but we don’t do it.


      • I think it was a comedian, or a clever celebrity.., maybe Reverend Ike, who said that “receiving was a gift because it gave the giver the pleasure of giving.” I may have screwed that up but I know you get my meaning.

        I’ve always entertained a fantasy that if I came into a lot of money, I’d share it with family and friends. So, I do what I can, when I can. Has it made a lot of difference in my life? I think not, but it doesn’t stop me ’cause I know I’ve done the right thing. It kinda makes me the Giver, and the Gifted. Did I screw it up again?


        • I don’t have much to give, but I send a few dollars here and there including to the Cornell Ornithological group (which shares with Audubon) because I worry about the planet almost as much as I worry about our personal survival!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Your comment about the glorification of greed is what really struck me; and both angers and saddens in equal measure. In my blood family feuding and jealousy seemed to be the norm for generations, so it was amazing for me as an adult to be embraced into families where love and kindness reign. I’d like to think the next generation has learned from that.

    Interestingly, Maori have similar notions of family/kinship, encompassed in the word whanau — pronounced more or less far-now.


    • I hope humankind manages to learn SOMETHING but I often wonder if collectively, we are capable of learning anything. We seem to be UN-learning faster than learning. There’s so much important stuff we need to do to care for the garden so it will care for us.

      I’m not seeing it. I wish I were. Everyone keeps talking about how nice everyone is being to everyone else. Had Owen not come home to help us out, we could have been dead in this house for months and no one would have come to see if we were alive, much less okay. I haven’t noticed people being nice. ONLINE people have been nice, but in the “real world”? Not really.

      These are the times when I miss my family. We were really great about this stuff. No one had any money and every would literally give you the coat off their back if they thought you needed it. The feeling that generosity is the RIGHT way to be has been so much a part of my life, I simply don’ t understand those who don’t get it. It’s like a piece of them is missing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m always surprised at the disconnect between the “macro” (I guess represented by the media) which emphasises how horrible the world is, and my day to day lived e period CD, which is generally of nice, kind,friendly human beings. Perhaps I just live in a particularly nice community?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I would definitely share, I hate greedy people! 😦


  6. We try, in our family, to give a helping had, in both financial and emotional support Wehrmacht we can.


  7. In our family, we all helped each other. During the Depression, my father helped my mother’s family. My uncle helped pay the mortgage for my grandparents’ home. My aunt lived with and contributed her salary to her parents. My mother helped me financially when I needed it as a single mother. I took care of my daughter when she was an adult and needed some financial help and a car for transportation to get to work. In family circles, we do what is needed.


    • That’s how we were raised. I don’t know what has happened, but it’s a change I see as essentially evil. It’s bad for families, for the earth, from nation to nation. We ARE supposed to help each other and it isn’t supposed to be based on whether we agree with each other or even LIKE one another.


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