Here is what Isaiah had to say about fasting:
Behold, in the day of your fast ye pursue your business, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to HaShem? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Part of the purpose of our fast on Yom Kippur is to better understand that misfortune of the poor, and develop empathy for them, so that we can be inspired to make a difference in this world.
Jenny Nicholson was tired of hearing how the poor are poor because they make poor choices, so she developed the game Spent so that people could see the kind of choices they would make if it was their turn to be flattened by the economy.
Spent puts you in the shoes of a someone in dire straits. “You’ve lost your job. You’ve lost your house. You’re down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?”
I played Spent and got through the month with a little cash to spare, but I made choices I wouldn’t make in real life, like letting my dog die to avoid a veterinary bill and denying my kid lunch money.
Now it is your turn to give Spent a try, and when you are done:
- challenge your Congresspeople to play it as well, and
- contribute to Mazon: The Jewish Response to Hunger, The Jewish Relief Agency, or another group in your area.
G’mar Chatimah Tova – May we all be inscribed in the book of life.