Saturday, September 10, 2005

Looking for tikvah

Excerpts from
Looking for tikvah
by Charles M. Stern for The Menorah

In a world fractured by war, hate, crime, contamination, poverty, famine, terrorism, acts of nature and disease, a future of peace, contentment and opportunity seems dim and unattainable.

We are suffering from deficits in every area in our lives, but most of all in tikvah - hope.

Through Jewish history, Jews suffered from persecutions of one kind or another, but their tikvah came from the Torah and prayer, which gave them the will, strength, and resolve to continue with tikvah for the future.

The wisdom of Judaism defines our responsibilities to other people as a moral obligation. The Torah states that we have the responsibility to sustain the poor regardless of whether they belong to our ethnic or religious community.

Rabbi Israel said that "spiritual needs are more important than material needs, but another person's material needs are my spiritual needs."

We must remember that we nurture the goodness in ourselves through the help we extend to other people.

To help us respond to the needs of people in our community it would be valuable to study the following code of goodness, which includes our responsibilities:
  • Finding peace within ourselves is to find peace in our relationships, in our families, and in the world.

  • The obligation to love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: we should feel empathy and compassion for others, just as God showed compassion for us.

  • Shunning improper speech: avoid gossip and speaking harshly to others.

  • Not causing humiliation: the duty never to embarrass or shame another person.

  • Returning the lost item: the duty to return property to its rightful owner.

  • Respecting seniority: the obligation to respect older adults.

  • Granting hospitality: extend gracious hospitality to guests and strangers.

  • Visiting the sick: visit and care for the sick and infirm.

  • Kindness to living things: never inflict pain on animals.

  • Practicing modesty or humility in how we relate to others.
Judaism insists that what matters most is the way we live. Since its goal is the creation of a godly society, it does not focus on our innermost motivations.

Indeed, it welcomes the proper action, even if performed for the wrong reason; the doing of a virtuous act can acquaint the doer with the awareness of the good ... and in the process, impart to others the tikvah that is so necessary to cope with a world riddled with the deficits that fracture our world and our community.

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