Repairing the world, one mitzvah at a time
It was genuinely heartwarming to read, in last week’s Thanksgiving edition of the Chronicle, the wonderful chesed (kindness) performed in and by our community. Virtually every page spoke of some individual or organization performing chesed for others.
Whether it was the “Volunteers of the Year” who spend countless hours helping in our synagogues and communal organizations, Sacred Spaces (protecting children and teens from abuse), Into Their Hands (getting laptops to students who need them), “Tuesdays with Jon and Helen” (friendship with a lonely senior), Giving It Forward Together (providing Thanksgiving kits to seniors), “My Cause, My Cleats” (NFL players’ donation of their personalized cleats), the Tree of Life campaign, Federation’s COVID-19 relief distributions, or Chabad’s work around the world, it was exceptionally inspiring to read.
This kindness of one person to another is perhaps the true meaning of social justice and tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Counter to those who promote a concept of social justice that entails “we” and “them,” privilege and victimization, cancel culture, defunding the police, etc., these volunteers have shown that the process of tikkun olam comes down to performing one mitzvah at a time, one person doing one good deed and thereby inspiring each of us to do likewise. And one good deed leads to another.
The value of a single mitzvah greatly outshines today’s grandiose ideological schemes that purport to save the world, but that, in fact, only distort and obfuscate societal realities by grossly exaggerating what is wrong in our society and minimizing or ignoring all that is good.
As it says in Proverbs (27:19), “As water reflects face to face, so is the heart of man to man.” If you smile into a pond of water, you will see a smile back. Likewise, the genuine positive feelings that you show toward someone else will be reciprocated back to you. And this is how society grows toward perfection.