By Laura Seymour
We all hope to make a difference in the world and 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 the best, but often giving money is important as well. Save your change — it can change the world!
“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
- This is the key to Esther’s challenge in the Purim Megillah: choice!
- Judaism teaches that there is a plan for the world but that we are given free will — the 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. The story of Purim is about Esther having to do the brave thing even though she was afraid. Mordechai tells her that she was put in this place at this time to do the important and scary task of standing up to the king and Haman.
Things to Do:
- Know what you stand for and be willing to be counted.
- All of us are afraid at times but we must handle our fears.
- Think about a time when you did something that you were afraid to do.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.