We are obligated not just to worry about ourselves, but to do our part in improving society and working to create a world in which “there shall be no needy among you.”
Angel for Shabbat
As we begin the book of Devarim, and as we approach Tisha B’av, it is important to not only focus on observance of the Mitzvot, but also to always try to be “upright and just,” and to seek to make the will of God our will.
It is fashionable in some religious circles to idolize cult leaders and to refrain from (and even deeply resent) any criticism aimed at these great ones. It is fashionable in some circles to foster “echo reasoning”, where it is only licit to speak with others who share the same views, where it is forbidden to hear opposing ideas and critiques. Such circles represent a genuine danger to healthy religious life.
The greatest people are precisely those who are most generous and sensitive to the feelings of others. They conduct themselves with good manners and thoughtfulness. They are humble, natural, and kind. They do not cut in lines; they pay their debts on time; they demand no extra honors or privileges.
This week's "Angel for Shabbat" column is by Jonathan Arking, Summer Student Intern of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
This week's Angel for Shabbat on the Torah portion of the week was written by Jake Nussbaum, a student at Yeshiva University, and a member of the University Network of our Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
This week's Angel for Shabbat was written by Jonathan Arking, who is serving as a student summer intern for our Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. Jonathan is an incoming Freshman at Princeton University.
How we communicate is just as important as the content we are communicating. Until we learn to engage in discourse that is truly civil, we, too, will be stuck on the precipice of our promised land, unable to progress together toward a greater society.
To focus exclusively on the universal aspects of Judaism, though central to Judaism’s mission, is to do a disservice not only to the Jewish tradition, but all of humanity. Without a real foundation in its particular mission in the world, Judaism will struggle to contribute universally. Similarly, to focus exclusively on the particularistic aspects of Judaism corrupts its very purpose within humanity.
Many people feel the need to be noticed. They dye their hair neon green, or they wear immodest clothing, or they say things that are intended to shock. They will do anything to keep the limelight focused on themselves: they will tell a stream of jokes, they will speak without listening to others, they will take “selfies” and send them to anyone and everyone they can think of. The message they convey is: NOTICE ME.