By Laura Seymour
As we look at all that is happening in the world today, we wonder about what we can do to make the world a better place. Judaism calls that “tikkun olam — fixing the world.” It is our obligation to do our part. The challenge of tikkun olam is our fear of acting. Too often, we stand back and think that someone else will do the task. However, if everyone thinks another will act, the world will not get better. The time is NOW for everyone to act. We begin by learning — explore needs in your community. Find something that you can do or contribute to. Giving time is best, but often giving money is important as well. Save your change — it can change the world!
Text: Everything is foreseen, yet the freedom of choice is given. The world is judged with goodness, and everything depends on the abundance of good deeds.
—Pirke Avot 3:19
* Judaism teaches there is a plan for the world we are given free will, a choice to make decisions about our actions. What does it mean to have free will?
* “The world is judged with goodness” means that we look for the good rather than the bad in the world. Why do some people always see the negative? Why is it better to see the goodness in the world?
* The Mishnah says that everything depends on lots of good deeds. Why are good deeds important? Why do we need lots of good deeds and not just a few? What are some of the good deeds that you can do?
Value: Courage — ometz lev
“Ometz lev” actually translates as “strength of heart.” These are emotional, internal qualities. Courage is having the inner strength to take charge. Courage offers us the strength needed to face difficulty, danger, pain and fear. There is a midrash about the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Moses raised his staff and the sea didn’t split. Everyone was afraid but one man stepped up and went forward. When he did, the sea split. Nachshon had courage and faith in G-d.
Things to do:
•Know what you stand for and be willing to be counted.
•All of us are afraid at times but we must learn to handle our fears.
•Think about a time when you did something that you were afraid to do.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.