Torah Study Lesson

Just How Directly Responsible Am I For Cleaning Up The Evil Around Me?
By: Michele Long

In today’s Torah Study we were discussing how we don’t have to go looking for the evil around us when Suzanne brought up the question: “What level of evil are we responsible for?” She sited a man who went to prison and, when released, killed a woman. What part did we play in his life and her death? As we sorted through this question, another arose; “Did we contribute to this evil by closing our eyes to the problem?” My soul suddenly felt a very sharp prodding from this question; one I couldn’t ignore.

Time for Shabbat services came all too soon and I left with more unanswered questions. Once again, as the Source would have it, between the Keva, my eyes caught hold of the kavannahs the Bat Mitzvah teen had been guided to include in my studies today:

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” – Albert Einstein.

“Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” – Robert F. Kennedy.

“We have a duty to care for each member of our society. We must therefore avoid, at all cost, the urge to shut away those who are grievously afflicted as if they were a burden. The same goes for those who are diseased or marginalized. To push them away would be to heap suffering on suffering. We need, therefore, to ensure that the sick and afflicted person never feels helpless, rejected, or unprotected. Indeed, the affection we show to such people is, in my opinion, the measure of our spiritual health, both at the level of the individual and at that of society”– The Dalai Lama.

“Judaism is less about believing and more about belonging. It is less about what we owe God and more about wheat we owe each other, because we believe God cares more about how we treat each other than about our theology.” – Rabbi Harold Kushner.

She couldn’t have known of our Torah Study discussion, yet her teachings were providing some important answers and guidelines for social responsibilities. It’s not unusual for the Universe to deliver my lessons throughout the course of Shabbat in this “connect-the-dots” fashion. It feeds my soul in simple terms so that I can digest the lessons, absorbing the knowledge, and leaving fulfilled when the Shabbat lesson has come to completion. It’s not coincidental that the first article I would read in the Jewish Light later that day referred to the upcoming Holocaust Remembrance Commemoration on May 1, 2008, at United Hebrew Congregation.

No, it only brings me back to my original question, “Just how directly responsible am I for cleaning up the evil around me?

Next question: “Where do I start?”


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