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A Biblical Perspective on Immigration

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Rabbi Evan Moffic gives us a Biblical perspective on immigration. He looks at how society views immigration and how we treat them. Then he discusses what lessons we have from the Bible on how we should approach this topic. He contrasts man-made laws with biblical ones, in relation to immigration. He finishes with the importance of treating people as creations of God.

Announcer 0:02
Welcome to the Solomon Success Show where we explore the timeless wisdom of King Solomon and the Bible as it relates to business and investing false prophets and get rich quick schemes are everywhere. Let’s not be distracted by these. Instead, let’s go to the source, the eternal principles that create a life of peace, power and prosperity. Here’s our host, Jason Hartman.

Rabbi Evan Moffic 0:32
Welcome to the Solomon success Show. I’m Rabbi effin mafic. I’m a friend and client of Jason. And he was kind enough to extend the invitation to co host the show. I’m an author and a rabbi written about happiness written about the Jewishness of Jesus written about devotions. But I’m passionate about what the Bible the wisdom of Solomon, our most ancient traditions can teach us in Navigating challenges in our world today, how we can live not only a life of success, but have a life of happiness and meaning with not only wealth, but with time and freedom. And if there’s any area of life where we need real wisdom, ancient wisdom, time tested proven wisdom, in the quest for wealth and happiness, we don’t need any more of these three step get rich quick schemes. Jason doesn’t like those. I don’t like those they don’t work. You can find them anywhere. What we need is real wisdom that makes a difference. Jason often uses the metaphor of a cruise ship, that as we live, and we take small steps, small steps towards our destination, and align ourselves with the right forces in the universe that pushes us towards our destination. That’s what this show does. It helps us align with ancient truths, meaningful truths, truths that can help us live a true life of beauty, happiness and peace. And that’s what We’re going to get today. That’s what we get every time and we do some reflections on current issues and what the Bible says about them and how we can live with biblical wisdom. And today, I want to look at an issue that’s somewhat controversial today, but on which the Bible has a lot to say. And that’s the issue of immigration. what the Bible says about immigration and also what immigration says about our purpose as income property investors as people seeking wealth and happiness in the world today. And I’ll start with a wonderful story. You know, of course, I’m a rabbi, I’m Jewish, all of my great grandparents or great great grandparents were immigrants, and refugees. And so I have a deep commitment to understanding what our role should be in our country towards immigration and refugees. And about 10 years ago now, it’s more than that about 12 or 13 years ago, I was visiting a member of my congregation in the hospital and he was an incredible man. His name was judge Seymour Simon. He was a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He was a prominent political figure and he was in his 90s. This was in 2006. Because I remember there was a big discussion about immigration with President George W. Bush back then. I’m sitting in Seymour in the hospital room, and I’m talking with him and I have to lean close because he doesn’t hear that well, and we’re talking he wants to talk politics. He wants to talk immigration. So I said to Seymour, I said, You know, I just feel so passionately and I feel such compassion for immigration. Why can’t we simply give amnesty allow people who came to this country, whether illegally or however they got here? Why can’t they live here? Why can’t we accept them? And he said, You know, I said, all of our ancestors were immigrants. He said, Yes, but most of our ancestors came illegally. Many of the people here today did not come legally, which he was speaking of course, about undocumented immigrants. And then he also said, when your great grandparents came, there wasn’t a whole welfare state. Now there is when your great grandparents came, they learn to speak English. Now Some don’t get, I’m not trying to cast aspersions on anybody. And as you’ll see, as we talk about this topic, I have probably a more liberal view than some. But that really woke me up to seeing this as a complex issue because I had always kind of instinctively gravitated towards the position of just let everyone in. People want to live a good life, they should be able to come here and live that kind of life. And I came to see that so much more complicated and nuanced than that. Because this issue, the issue of immigration, is shaped by several paradoxes. There’s a paradox that the Bible believes in borders, believed in national sovereignty. I mean, we’ve seen the book of Genesis God established the nations and God established the nation of Israel and the promised land God establishes borders. Now they’re not nation states, as we understand nation states, their tribes, their groups of people, but they’re still borders. Yet, in the ideal world, in the biblical world, we all move freely. I mean, Abraham leaves his homeland and he goes to the promised land, Abraham moves across many different borders and he settles in different places. So clearly God doesn’t want us to always be in the same place and to not have any freedom of movement. There’s another paradox. In the New Testament it’s expressed of render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God or just gods in Jewish tradition. It’s Dena Dima huzzah, Dena, which means the law of the land is the law. And so people who take the Bible seriously we say, well, national sovereignty, the laws of the nation matter, we have to respect those laws. On the other hand, we have our biblical principles so that the stranger shall dwell among you as the native. This is from I think it’s Isaiah. So we have national law and biblical law contradicting there’s a paradox here. So I think what that leads us to is that we have to be constantly balancing contemporary political law with biblical principles, and it’s not always clear cut. And what’s the wisdom for us as contemporary people living in 21st century America, I want to address this on a couple of levels first, most of you who are listening to the show are real estate investors income property investors. And I’m certainly not an economist, but everything I’ve read tends to tell me that, from an economic perspective, immigration is good. As real estate investors, income property investors, we want the population to grow. That creates demand. And without immigration, our population the United States would not be growing. We would be, I think, at replacement level, if not a little bit less. So immigration keeps us afloat as a country. It keeps our economy dynamic and growing. Now, that’s not to say that there are many anecdotal instances I know some people who are competing with immigrants for jobs so it can hurt people that are born here when there’s more competition for open jobs. But on the meta hole on the larger picture, immigration is generally good. In fact, this actually, there’s some biblical wisdom here, King Solomon hired immigrants to help build the temple in Israel. He paid these immigrants well to come and work. So even back towards the Bible, immigrants came to different countries and did work for economic reasons. So this is something that God has known for a long time that has been a longtime part of Western culture that immigrants contribute to our economy. Interestingly, others there’s so much in the in the Book of Kings was solid and bringing workers from all over the world. But what’s important to understand this, even as the Bible respects borders, but also says those borders in biblical times were much more fluid than they are today. We have political states, governments, we have a welfare state. We have certain rights that accrue we have voting rights, things that really didn’t exist in the biblical world. Travel was more fluid, then people would just move to a spot. They didn’t really have to pass a citizenship test or pay taxes. I mean, you had to pay taxes when you’re part of the Roman Empire, but it wasn’t as formal a system as we have now. So what the laws were in biblical times doesn’t translate directly to what the law should be today. It’s a different context. But I think whatever our views, we can draw some general principles from what the Bible says about strangers and those who are different from us, and borders. And generally, I think it doesn’t fall into left or right Republican or Democrat, that we hear so much in the world today. You know, one of the purposes of this show, I think one of the reasons Jason has this show is that we can’t get caught up in the divisiveness that’s so drowns our world, it handicaps our thinking, when we’re always thinking of left or right republican versus Democrat in this polarized environment. It forces us to choose sides on issues that are much more complex than that. And immigration is one of those issues. So a couple of general principles that I think have some practical impact for each of us. First is that assimilation is generally good, that when people move on to another country, let’s say people who immigrated to America should generally try to adapt to American language norms, life patterns. I mean, that happens a lot probably happens less today than it did I just heard in Chicago, we’re just about to spend $12 million in our public schools for Spanish only classes. And, you know, I’m not thrilled about that. I think people should be learning the language of the country in which we live. Of course, we have to be kind, we have to adapt, we have to treat all people with dignity. But in general, we should be promoting assimilation. And the reason I say that is there’s two primary words in the Hebrew Bible for immigrant and they each have different connotations. One is gear. And gear is someone who sojourns who lives among you. And this is a person who really assimilates who becomes part of your culture. The paradigmatic example in the Bible is Ruth, if you’ve ever read the book of Ruth, it’s a beautiful book about a Moabite woman. So Moab was the country across the Jordan River I believe from Israel, and she moved to Israel because with her mother in law, and she assimilates, she adapts to the country in which to the land of Israel. She adapts its practices. she marries an Israelite, and she ultimately becomes the great grandmother of King David. And she is the prototypical Gare. She says, My, your people shall be my people, your God, my God. So she becomes part of that people even though she’s technically an outsider, that’s the Gare. That’s someone who should be treated equally and with absolute dignity in is a model for us when we move. But then there’s another term that’s called the no query. The no query is the stranger. The no query is someone who kind of is almost like a guest worker who comes in, but doesn’t intend to stay and adapt. And the laws are different from the no creed than they are for the air. Of course, you treat all people with dignity and kindness, but the expectations are different. And the treatment is different. They’re not considered full Israelites like a gear would be. I think when We think about immigration today when when someone is coming here to settle, we should think of them as a gear and encourage the adaptation that comes from being a gear. You can’t just come to a place and expect to live the exact life that you lived in the place from which you came. That’s sort of what’s happened in Europe and certain Muslim communities. And that’s dangerous. That’s not what the biblical ideal of immigration is. Second important point that I think all of us can consider and do is that we always have to remember that a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable people. And so we should be moved by the images by the policies of separating parents and children at the border children, how we treat children, especially children who are in a strange land really reflects our values. So the Bible would have no place for that. Whichever president implemented it, whoever is doing it now the Bible believes that we should treat all people with kindness and dignity even if they broke the law. Coming here. So we cannot oppress the stranger over and over again. It says, You shall not oppress the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. That’s one of the most repeated biblical commandments. So we need to stand up for treating others with real dignity and kindness. And by the way, that doesn’t mean that were soft on crime or just believe in open borders, far from it. A friend of mine who’s a pastor at a fairly conservative church, his church does amazing work in Chicago. With a poor immigrant community. It’s really incredible. And they essentially run social services operation on the west side of Chicago, and they work with many, many hundreds of illegal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and that’s part of their mission as a church. They serve the poor. He the pastor is very politically conservative, and yet he doesn’t draw any distinction between who he serves. But here’s the thing. At one point he noticed There were many people who were taking advantages of the services provided, and that certain people who had gang affiliations and certain just underhanded tactics, were taking up many of the resources that were supposed to be devoted to those in need. And many of those were gang related and undocumented immigrants. And he reported that to the authorities. And so he had no interest in persecuting illegal immigrants, he had interest in protecting those who are vulnerable. And the law should help us protect the vulnerable. And that’s what this pastor did. It was really remarkable story. So we have to stay true to our moral values, while also respecting the laws and our ultimate goals. That can be hard. There’s no clear cut. Again, these issues are not black and white. But our moral values and our public policy don’t always align. But we have to do our best to stay true to each of them as this pastor did. And the third important point, regardless of our views on immigration, what I really think is that all of us Need and this is a core biblical principle need to treat every human being like they were created as if they are creating the image of God because they are as Genesis 123. God doesn’t care what country you come from, what color you are, what your ethnicity is, what language you speak, every single human being is creating the image of God. And so whatever the public policy is, whatever we believe is in the utilitarian, best interest of our country, when dealing with people as as Pastor did, when working with people and serving others, we don’t care where they come from, we don’t care about their status, we care about serving. And so we can prey on these issues. We can pray for wisdom in our public policy. We can pray that those who are searching for freedom for a way of life, that they can find it, whether it’s here, whether it’s in another country, that we can figure out what God intends for us and where God intends us to live our lives and what God is asking us to do in this moment. That answer doesn’t fall on Republicans or Democrats doesn’t For the political left and the political right, it falls within our own hearts. And so we should discern that pray for that study for that.

Rabbi Evan Moffic 15:07
So a lot of lot of ground to cover. Ultimately, I think that immigration is something every country needs to have secure borders. At the same time. The United States is a place that stands for certain Judeo Christian traditions and we have to honor those and how we treat others and the kind of values we convey as a country. Look forward to talking to you next week. Again, if you have the chance, please rate and review the show. It makes a huge difference. leave a review email me You can email me at EM o ff [email protected] e [email protected] Happy to connect with you. I know our listenership is growing and we you can help it grow even more if you stop and just drop a review on iTunes it it’s incredible what what a difference it makes. See you next week shalom.

Announcer 15:59
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