In Judaism the role of witnessing is very important. The book of Leviticus says, “Any person able to testify as one who has seen or learned of the matter who does not come forward to testify is liable to punishment” (Lev. 5:1). Therefore, we are not only told that witnessing is important, it is actually a holy, sacred act. Yet, sometimes witnessing is not enough. Sometimes when we witness an injustice we feel compelled to act. We want to, in a sense, turn from witness to actor.
Rabbi Micah's blog
In our community we are given many opportunities to act for others. These opportunities are often referred to as Tzedakah, or more broadly, as acts of Tikun Olam. However, I would like to introduce another concept, Gimilut Chasidim- Acts of loving kindness.
How can we understand Gimilut Chasidim? Consider the following teaching from the Talmud:
“Families don't just eat in the Winter.” While not a direct quote, this was more or less the takeaway for me and the other clergy at our monthly Cheshire Clergy Association. What we learned from the Cheshire food pantry is that during the winter and fall months they do very well. But the summer months are a struggle for them to keep their shelves stocked. Therefore, we decided as a group to hold a food drive at the end of June and thus “Foodstock” was born.
I was having a conversation with a student this week where we discussed that Judaism does not ask us to be knowledgeable, or to understand but rather to be wise. “What is the difference?” I asked.
“Knowledge is being aware of what something is, while understanding is being aware of how something works. But I don’t know about wisdom…” the student said.
In honor of Memorial Day and the men and women who have served our country I am sharing an article written by Aaron Rozovsky. Aaron is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on the Cincinnati campus. Aaron is a decorated captain (CPT) in the Rhode Island Army National Guard, he has been in the military for more than 10 years, serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Afghanistan, and, during his HUC year-in-Israel, as a liaison officer to the IDF.
Here is what he wrote:
The following story was shared with me by Rabbi David Wolpe:
I have heard the same story twice in one week, so I saw it as a sign to share:
A person is going 90 mph in a 60 mph zone. The cop pulls the person over. If the cop gives a ticket, that is justice. If the cop gives a warning, that is mercy. If the cop gives you a crispy crème doughnut that is grace.
This past Wednesday I had scheduled my whole day around the idea of a terrible storm and then no storm was forthcoming. This made me think of a teaching from Rabbi Hillel in Pirkei avot, Ethics of our Fathers, that says. "Do not be certain of yourself until the day of your death".
Where do we find God? Solomon Ibn Gabirol, an 11th century Jewish poet and philosopher from Spain, offers an answer from his understanding of the Barechu prayer:
As this past week was Purim I wanted to share one of my favorite Purim stories from the Talmud. This is the story as told from myjewishlearning.com:
"Rabbah and R. Zeira got together for Purim Seudah (the feast on the afternoon of Purim). They got very drunk, and Rabbah got up and cut R. Zeira's throat (literally, Rabbah butchered him). The next day, Rabbah prayed on R. Zeira's behalf and brought him back to life. A year later, Rabbah asked, "Would you like to have Purim Seudah with me again this year?" R. Zeira replied, "One cannot count on a miracle every time." (Megillah 7b)