|Letter to the Editor|
|Written by Jewish Chronicle Readers|
|Thursday, April 19 2012 11:00|
Visiting Rabbi Margolies
Shortly before the start of Pesach, I visited at Village Shalom Rabbi Margolies, our community’s esteemed senior rabbi. Although ailing, he read with me a Torah portion that bears a resemblance to an issue that is on the minds of most Americans as the Supreme Court accepts the challenge of judicial review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I turned to Parashat Ki Sisa and we concentrated on the exigetical definition of the verb yetan. The rabbi carefully read in Hebrew the phrase containing the mitvah that all who have reached the age of 20 are to be counted in the census and yetan a half shekel of which the wealthy shall not increase and the destitute shall not decrease this amount.
Upon questioning, he responded that yetan, the masculine future form of the verb “to give,” means “He must give, there is no fooling around here; it is a matter of equity, a major tenet of the Torah.” To my question is it a tax?” the rabbi responded, “It is an offering, but it is a tax.” We now await the Supreme Court’s decision as to whether the required purchasing of a health care policy is a tax, a penalty or a tax-penalty within the framework of the relevant constitutional clauses.