How many times have we meant to call our legislator, wanted to sign that petition but let it fall to the bottom of our e-mail inbox, planned to sign up for a shift at the soup kitchen or intended to bring extra food to the Kehillah’s food collection box?
We have the best of intentions, but what about our actions? We say we want to volunteer more, give more charity be more active, but we don’t do it. We put it off, we get busy with other things. When it comes to world repair, actions matter. Nothing will change if we don’t act. But our lethargy and our routine are more powerful. We all have made resolutions and not fulfilled them. We put things off because we don’t have time. So it is not a resolution we need to make in order to change, but something more.
In our reading for this week, the Torah talks about a serious type of commitment we can make: a vow or an oath. It says: “If you make a vow to the Eternal or take an oath imposing an obligation on yourself, you shall not break your pledge; you must carry out all that has crossed your lips” (Num 30:3). Jewish tradition gives us the way to make serious change. We don’t just plan to do something; we can vow to do it.
I know change is hard. We are habitual beings with full lives and responsibilities. But we have a greater responsibility beyond our little world. We have the responsibility to make changes in the world around us, to better it. We have the power and capacity to do so if we just begin to act. Start small. Pick something that you can integrate into your life, and do that. Tell a friend or family member that you are taking an oath to begin doing whatever it is and you need them to hold you to it. Your kids or parents would like nothing better than to remind you if you are not following through. Make doing justice part of your routine. Pick up a few extra things at the grocery store to bring to the synagogue food collection bin.
Sign up for action alerts from different organizations, and call your Members of Parliament when an important piece of legislation is being voted on. Sign up for a regular volunteer opportunity. Register for regular charitable contributions by monthly credit card payment. Start small and work up from there. Vow to do it. Commit to yourself, your family, your community. Make a commitment to repair your world in some small way. You will find that social action will become habitual for you, and you will serve as an inspiration to others around you to act. Please vote this coming Wednesday, 03 August in the Local Government Elections. It is probably the most important election since 1994. Make your vote count and let your opinion be heard
Start now. Make an oath—and once it crosses your lips, you shall not break your pledge, but must carry it out.
Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell
|Torah Reading for Shabbat Matot
Reading: Numbers 30:2-31:12
(Plaut p.1100/Hertz p.702)
Haftarah Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 (P.p.1113; H.p.710)
In Matot, Moses conveys the laws governing the annulment of vows. Some men from the tribes of Reuben and Gad approach Moses about acquiring the lands of Jazer and Gilead, on the east side of the Jordan River.
The Reubenites and Gadites tell Moses that these lands are ideal for cattle, and since they own a lot, they would greatly benefit from settling there.
Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or: http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.