Torah Traditions - Fair Trade
“When you buy or sell…to your neighbour, you shall not wrong one another.”— Leviticus 25:13
In Sedra Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25-27), and sprinkled throughout the Torah, one finds numerous commandments designed to guide us to cultivate a society and consciousness that promotes and thrives on equity and dignity for all. Dignified, just and fair economic foundations are a major part of this, as seen in the institutions of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, and the equitable redemption of land and fair trading.
The Laws of Tzedaka in particular emphasise this, placing financial assistance to those who are teetering as the highest and most noble form of Tzadaka. You must offer assistance whilst there is still opportunity to preserve the dignity of the recipient, and offer the most important of all valuables, self respect and esteem amongst amongst ones peers.
"... so that he can support himself without requiring others to depend upon.” (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor, 10:7).
“There is nothing in the world more grievous than poverty - the most terrible of sufferings. Our teachers have said: if all the troubles of the world are assembled on one side and poverty is on the other, poverty would outweigh them all.” (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 31:12)
West Africa's many textile traditions have given us a variety of wonderful, unique whole cloths. In keeping with our practice of encouraging fair trade in textiles, Marion and Yaakov Gorr are pleased to be supporters of the upcoming tour of Aboubakar Fofana to Australia. Fofana, from Mali,keeps alive the traditional practice of indigo dyeing that dates back to the 11th century in Mali. He and his team of artisans spin and weave their cotton and linen by hand, then dye the fabric and sew each piece by hand, to create beautiful, meticulous line of "ethnic-modern" fair trade and ethically produced apparel. All of the artisans receive a fair wage for their work.
Many cloths, such as Mali's distinctive Indigo cloths, are created using the ancient strip-weaving method found throughout West Africa. The weaver, usually a man, weaves plain white cotton threads into narrow strips up to 60 metres long. Then a sewer, often a retired weaver, cuts and stitches these strips together to make a whole cloth. Only then is the cloth coloured using a variety of techniques.
It is crucial to create long-lasting relationships with these talented men and women for long-term sustainability. The group’s total earnings from the market (2010–2012) were USD $62,787. Mali’s average daily income is $1.64.
A master artist, Fofana has worked for years in Africa, France, Japan, and Great Britain to preserve the ancient dyeing techniques he uses for his sublime textiles.
If you want to support our fair trade initiative with the people of Mali you can make an ethical choice to join in his workshops at Beautiful Silks, or attend one of his events and make a donation towards one of his projects. Aboubakr arrives in Melbourne on 23 October. A collection of his home textiles will be available to view and purchase at Hermon & Hermon, Richmond, from the 30th October. Info from Johanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.