All of us who work with families hope that children will realize that each of us has the power to make the world a better place. Tikkun olam is one area of action where you don’t have to be perfect.
Sometimes just doing anything is a step in the right direction. The responsible actions to take are those that will help others when they are in need. When we don’t act when others need help, we close our eyes to the world. We must not say that someone else will do what is needed — we must do our part to make the world a better place.
Text of the Week: Hillel was accustomed to say: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when? — Pirke Avot 1:14
- Why does Hillel focus first on taking care of yourself? Why is that the responsible thing to do? What happens if you do not take care of yourself?
- Hillel goes to the next step and wonders what kind of a person we are if we only care about ourselves. What kind of person cares only for themselves?
- The last phrase of this mishnah tells us to act now and not wait. Why is that important?
- An important way to fix the world is by being responsible — in Hebrew the word is achrayut. Being responsible means that others can depend on you. It means you are willing to be accountable for what you do or not do — you accept credit when you do things right and you accept corrections when things go wrong. When you take responsibility, others can count on you. Making excuses is not something a responsible person does — you want to be trustworthy.
There are simple and easy ways to demonstrate that you are a responsible person. However, simple and easy is not always simple and easy. To be considered a responsible person is a quality that is earned by actions such as these:
- When someone asks you to do something, do it to the best of your ability.
- Focus on your own part, not someone else’s.
- Be willing to accept credit or correction when you do something.
- Admit mistakes without making excuses.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.