Jewish Journal


May 24, 2013

We are Commanded to Care



By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

What is going on? I am asking this question to myself and all of you as I sit here and read the newspaper. We had an election in Los Angeles and less than 20% of eligible voters participated! We seem to be unable to miss an opportunity to make a difference. We seem to be unable miss an opportunity to demonstrate to ourselves and others that EVERYONE MATTERS. So, I ask again; What is going on?

The Tornados in Oklahoma have given many people an opportunity to help by giving money and stuff and this is great. Yet, why is it only tragedies that cause us to get involved? What stops us from helping the poor, the widow, the orphan, the homeless and the stranger everyday?

One of the deepest existential questions that humans ask, especially when facing their mortality, is: Did my life matter? Yet, when we have the opportunity to matter each day, every election, most people opt out! What is going on?

As the COO of a not-for-profit institution that helps people find their proper place in the world and live well each day, I am confronted with the challenge of getting people involved in helping others each day. I am not sure whether it is me or you that causes non-profits to continually worry about budgets and making each dollar stretch a little further. Probably both!

I don't get it! We are commanded to care for others, redeem our fellows and never throw anyone away, yet most of us stand on the sidelines while "Rome burns.” "Rome" in this case, is our communities and the people who live in them. I am perplexed and frustrated; I am worried and angry. How do we as a community prove to ourselves that we matter each day, not just when tragedy strikes? Only by taking seriously the command to be God's representative in helping everyone live well. Only by living as "reminders of God" to ourselves and each other as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel teaches.

My call to action this week is to get involved in your own life and in the lives of others and your communities. My call to action is take seriously the gift of life that you have been given and use your unique gifts to help make your corner of the world a little better each day. My call to action is to see each person and each situation as an opportunity to demonstrate that You Matter.

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