Shabbat Service is a weekly bit of Torah-inspired do-gooding, brought to you by Repair the World and our grantee-partner American Jewish World Service (AJWS). Read on to see how these ancient stories can apply today. Seem far fetched? Check it out:
The story: This week’s parsha (Torah portion), Ha’azinu, starts to bring the Torah’s five books to a close. The story ends with a plea from Moses to the Israelites to “teach the words with which I charge you upon your children, that they may observe faithfully all the terms of this teaching. For this is not a trivial thing for you: it is your very life; through it you shall long endure…”
Moses, it seems, is one of the Torah’s greatest champions of education. He’s specifically focused on making sure generations after him learn the lessons and commandments of the Torah. But taken more broadly, his words read like a plea for learning in general. After all, without education, how would we transmit ideas, morals, and wisdom from one generation to the next?
The “takeaway”: This week’s dvar tzedek author, Rabbi David Singer, takes Moses’ words in yet another direction. He writes, “We would be well-served to think seriously in this new year about the ways in which we educate ourselves and our children toward dedication to the pursuit of justice, and then offer holistic opportunities to put that learning into practice in communal life.” For Singer, Moses’ words invite educators – both Jewish and not, formal and informal – to think about the role that justice plays in their curricula. Holding a lone tikkun olam event or “mitzvah day” is not enough he writes. Instead, “We must also remember to educate…For social justice to become part of the Jewish fabric of the next generation, it must be a regular act and it must be integrated into and reinforced through education.”
The “to-do”: Support organizations that promote justice and philanthropic education – like Learning to Give or AJWS’s Where Do You Give tzedakah curriculum. And think about ways that you might be a champion of justice education and learning in your school or community.
Read the full Torah commentary, on which this excerpt is based, over at AJWS’ website. And for more great texts, commentary and Jewish learning resources on social justice, check out the On 1 Foot database.