GOOD MORNING! What is our responsibility for righting the wrongs of this world? Here is the second part of Rabbi Noah Weinberg's article "Repairing the World!" If you missed part 1, go to: aish.com/world_repairs
If you are really serious about fixing the world, you won't just mail a check. Beyond the 10 percent commitment of money, there's another aspect: a 10 percent commitment of time. You'll join an organization. Many of the world's great revolutions have succeeded by strength in numbers: the civil rights movement, women's rights, or even save the whales.
What if no organization exists? Then create it. The Talmud (Baba Basra 9a) says: "Greater than one who does a mitzvah, is one who causes others to do a mitzvah." If you really want to be effective, wake others up to the problem, and mobilize their efforts.
Imagine that a child is sick with a rare disease. If it is an acquaintance, you'd probably say, "Oh, that's terrible." Now if you ask yourself: "Okay, what am I going to do about it?" your answer will probably be, "Me?! What can I do about it?" However, if you really care, you could truly do a lot. If it was your cousin, you'd take some personal responsibility, perhaps researching information on the Internet. If it was your own child, you'd leave no stone unturned.
I know a young couple -- he's a businessman and she's a doctor. They found out that their two young children had Gaucher disease, a debilitating condition that is handicapping for life, and sometimes fatal. So what did they do? Together they founded an organization, committed to finding a cure for Gaucher disease. She conducted the medical research and he raised the money.
There was no guarantee of success. But inasmuch as it was their own children, there was no alternative but to try. And the Almighty helped them. After six years, they developed a synthetic enzyme which can effectively treat the condition -- and their two children became the first in the world to have a hopeful prognosis. If you want to make a difference, it's possible.
Beyond the basic responsibility of tzedakah is rachamim, "mercy" -- caring about others personally and getting involved. You can walk around claiming to be a good person, but unless you feel it inside, you're not really there.
That is why the Torah juxtaposes the command to "Love your Neighbor," next to the prohibition "Do not to stand idly by while another is in need" (Leviticus 19:16-18). Don't cruise through life as if it's some obstacle course: watch out, here's a human being, manipulate him, push him, score a point, one-upmanship. That's not the way. You have to share the burden of your fellow human being.
The Talmud asks, "Why was Adam created alone? So that every person should say, 'The entire world was created just for me.'" This is a recognition that everything -- including the needs of every other human being -- was created for you. We are all caretakers of this world and responsible to deal with the problems. Everything on earth, problems as well as beauty, offers an opportunity for you to connect and to grow. Every person you encounter is there for a purpose. If someone needs help, it is your challenge.
Look around at absolutely everything and ask, "What is this saying to me? Why was this sent as part of my path to perfection?" Empathize with the victims of society. Empathize with the victims of crime. Empathize with the victims of terrorism. Empathize with the victims of discrimination. Feel the suffering of people you will never meet -- the plight of strangers halfway around the world.
How do you become real with the suffering of others? To understand the problems encountered by a blind person, for example, try blindfolding yourself for a day. Or go to the hospital and visit patients who have lost limbs. Share the burden.
Ultimately, every human being is striving for universal perfection. We have a divine spark that yearns to make a difference in the world. We all care. We just need to focus our attention. Tikun Olam means committing oneself to solving the world's problems. If everyone would give 10 percent, there would be no problems in this world -- no hunger, no cancer, no homelessness.
Once you acknowledge that you are responsible for the whole world, only one question remains: What will you do about it?
For starters, here are a few places to make a difference:
When you care about problems, you'll set priorities, organize, and make the sacrifice. And with the Almighty's help, you will change the world!
Pekudei, Exodus 38:21 -- 40:38
Pekudei includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan (the portable Tabernacle) and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After the completion of the construction of the Tabernacle, the Torah states:
"And Moshe saw all the work and behold, they did it as the Almighty commanded ... and Moshe blessed them" (Exodus 39:43).
Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin was once at a dedication ceremony for which one rabbi selflessly devoted an extremely large amount of time and energy. When the rabbi spoke he heaped praise and blessings upon the donors whose contributions made the institution possible.
Rabbi Sorotzkin spoke next and said, "Really the donors should be the ones to praise and bless the rabbi. It was his efforts that enabled them to have the merit of contributing to such a worthwhile cause. However, the rabbi followed in the steps of Moshe. After the complete report of everything that was donated to the Mishkan, (the portable Tabernacle), Moshe blessed all those who participated in the donations and contributions. They should have blessed Moshe for the opportunity he gave them."
Rabbi Sorotzkin continued, "The same is true when a wealthy person helps a poor person. The wealthy person gains more from the poor person, since he gains spiritual merit. However, what usually happens? The receiver expresses more thanks to the giver than the giver does to the receiver."
When someone approaches us for a contribution for a worthy cause, we should appreciate that he is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to contribute. This is an important concept for people who work for the community to raise funds. They should be aware that they are doing an act of kindness for the donors. At the same time, they need to show their gratitude to the donors. And if the donors -- or prospective donors -- do not have respect or appreciation for the one making the request (assuming it was made pleasantly and properly), it is the prospective donor who needs to examine his own character and values.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
Guatemala 5:51 - Hong Kong 6:08 - Honolulu 6:17
J'Burg 6:41 - London 5:20 - Los Angeles 5:37
Melbourne 7:44 - Mexico City 6:23 - Miami 6:08
New York 5:36 - Singapore 7:02 - Toronto 5:56
The goal is to fix the problem,
not to affix the blame
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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