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Home From the Rabbi From the Rabbi - February 2013
From the Rabbi - February 2013 PDF Print E-mail

Dear Friends:

 A Hasidic story tells us that the Kaminker Rebbe resolved that he would devote one entire day to reading Psalms.  By the time that the evening approached, he was still only partway through the book when a messenger from his mentor: the Maggid of Tzidnov wanted to see him.  The rebbe said that he would greet this man as soon as he had finished reciting the Psalms, but the emissary insisted.  “The Maggid wants you to come to his home immediately.”

 When the Rebbe arrived in Tzidnov, the Maggid asked him why he had taken so long to get there.  He replied that he was praying from the psalter, but the Maggid told him that he had summoned him to collect money for a poor person in desperate need.  “Psalms,” he said, can be sung by the angels, but only human beings can help the poor.  Charity is greater than reciting Psalms, because angels cannot collect tzedakah.”

 This anecdote reminds us that, though we are not angels, we have a special role in God’s order of the world.  You and I are the only beings who can enhance our existence by donating tzedakah for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves.  A wise Jewish scholar once said that “to live is to give.”  God freely gave us life; freely, we can give the gift of life to others through our generosity and tzedakah.

 There is something more.  Over the centuries, we have learned that every Jew is responsible to and for every other Jew.  Even in this blessed society, where anti-Semitism has diminished to its lowest level in two thousand years, we understand that no one will see to the particular needs of the Jewish community and its members except we, ourselves.  Though we would never disclose any names, let me assure you that there are, right here in our city, Jews who do not eat properly, who do not turn on their lights or furnaces for lack of funds, who suffer the quiet humiliation and deprivations of poverty – right before our very eyes.  And then there are elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere whose need is almost incomprehensible to us in its magnitude.

 In Corpus Christi, we have a vehicle dedicated to this sacred task: the Combined Jewish Appeal.  The kick-off dinner of this year’s CJA campaign is Thursday, February 28.  Please consider attending.  But even if you cannot be present, at least be one of those who does what the angels cannot do: bring out the image of God that is concealed by lives of poverty, desperation and despair.  This will not make you an angel, but you might become an exemplary human being.

Kenneth D. Roseman, Rabbi

 

 

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