These days it is pretty common to listen to people complain to no-end about what's wrong with the country; and much of what these people say is true. People spend, however, too much energy in these complains; energies which could serve better if invested in other ways.
Every day around us, we can see the signs of need - people living in poverty, children with learning difficulties, victims of spousal or parental abuse, people mired in the swamps of chemical dependency, and so many other social ills. When confronted with these issues, we can choose between "giving away fish" or "teaching how to fish". As Jews, we are told by our tradition that the latter approach is the best, but we are also told that if somebody is hungry - you need to give fish as well. This ideas come from the basic assumption that everything on this world, including our own wealth, really belongs to the Almighty and we are just the caretakers.
Jewish humor has illustrated this paradox that defines the true meaning of Tzedakah many times - but I'm choosing a story that I think tells it best:
At the door of the Synagogue somewhere in Europe sat a poor Jew every week. Every day, when coming for services, the wealthiest Jewish merchant in town would give him three kopeks. The merchant was happy to be able to perform the Mitzvah and the poor man was grateful for the helping hand. One day on Friday morning, the merchant came as usual to the Synagogue, and gave the poor man just one kopek.
The poor man looked surprised and asked the merchant "just one kopek?" - to which the merchant responded that the week had been awful for business and he did not make as much as he normally did. The poor man responded: "And because YOU had a bad week I need to suffer?"
Tzedakah is about recognizing that we have what we have because we work hard, yes - but also because we had luck. Some less lucky people work as hard or harder yet do not make it.
The Federation Campaign is our community warchest against inequality and our tool to help healing the world. It is our collective voice doing our part to bring about a world of Justice. Our local Campaign provides for our helping hand through Jewish Family Services, the monthly Soup Kitchen help, and our advocacy for those without a voice through our JCRC, as well as helping our fellow Jews around the world who live in places where Social Justice is not a given.
Blowing in the wind is not just a metaphore - it is a way of life, caring for those in need and healing our society, striving to perfect it to bring about the Messianic times. Add your Voice. If you have not yet pledged for the 2020 Community Campaign, you can do it here. Even $ 20 a month can go a long way...