The text of this section is below in italics.

There shall be no needy among you, since the Lord your God will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you as a hereditary portion. If only you heed the Lord your God and take care to keep all this instruction that I enjoin upon you this day. For the Lord your God will bless you as He has promised you: you will extend loans to many nations, but require none yourself; you will dominate many nations, but they will not dominate you.

If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsman in any of your settlements in the  land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman . Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. Beware lest you harbor the base thought, “the seventh year, the year of remission, is approaching,” so that you are mean to your needy kinsman and give him nothing. He will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will incur guilt. Give to him readily and have no regrets when you do so, for in return the Lord your God will bless you in all your efforts and all your undertakings. For there will never cease to be needy ones in your land, which is why I command you: open your hand to the poor and the needy kinsman in your land.

Moses is speaking to the Israelites both as a nation and as individuals. He enjoins them to care for the poor and needy. He realizes that the poor will always be with us. It is not an accident that he first commands the Israelites not to be debtors, but rather to be creditors. He is aware that debtors will lack the means to care for the poor and that debt can cripple. I have not been able to find much commentary on this verse. Rashi merely restates it and explains its grammar. He does not deal with its meaning or implications. But it’s there for a reason and is ignored at great peril.

This is a lesson (don’t be a debtor) that the United States is learning with great difficulty or has not learned at all. I suspect that many with a commitment to “social justice” find it too hard to take. Nevertheless, great debt and greatness as a people or nation are contradictory.

At the end of World War II the US was the largest creditor nation in the history of the world. Three quarters of a century later it is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world. And it is increasingly finding it difficult to care for the poor and needy when its official debt (almost $17 trillion) exceeds the national income and its true debt (that which includes unfunded obligations) is more than five times the official. The US has debts and obligations which exceed all the money in the world. And this figure does not include the debt of state and local governments or personal debt. I have likely understated the extent of our country’s unfunded liabilities. Social Security and Medicare face a shortfall as much $90 trillion.*

Deuteronomy contains much that seems foreign to the modern world; but these verses speak to problems that bedevil every country that deals with the problems of modernity. Care for the poor, but don’t go into debt to do it. Certainly do not destroy you economy with unbearable debt. This is advice that no country in the Western world seems able to follow. Financial collapse will not be good for the poor.

* See Why $16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt