Mitzvah Day

Today is mitzvah day. Volunteers all across the UK are teaming up to perform good deeds. Often, this involves supporting food banks and charities, by donating goods, money, or- most importantly- time. At first, I admittedly thought little of mitzvah day. It seemed too politicised, too left-wing, too reform for my liking. And I said this with full knowledge of the United Synagogue’s campaigns. Maybe it was the nature of those who took part, maybe it was the lack of Chossidic involvement, maybe it was the fact that it didn’t involve ”spiritual” mitzvot (Tefillin, Shabbes candles, etc), but whatever the reason was, I didn’t think much of it. And only recently did I take the time to sit back and examine my position. Why did I think so little of mitzvah day, when so many put their time and energy into it? What was I doing that was inherently better? Was I feeding the poor, clothing the needy, and putting a roof over the heads of the homeless? No, no, and no. I wasn’t. I spoke of the corporeal, mundane nature of mitzvah day- without remembering my own comments on Parshas Shlach. It’s physical mitzvot which matter. How could I say this, without appreciating the physical mitzvot performed by thousands of workers on mitzvah day?

The halacha says that when a starving man asks us for food, we can’t begrudge him it. If he asks for money, we can consider his position, and then make our own decision. But to let a hungry man starve is against the law; even if we have no desire to help this person, we must. And on mitzvah day, the hungry are being fed. Across the UK, they’re being helped. And where was I? No-where. So I’m changing my mind. Reconsidering my position. Even if I am utterly opposed to the (reform, non-traditional) nature of the participants, can I really rebuff the whole concept of mitzvah day? Because if I am, I’d better be doing something even more crucial, even more life-saving, infused with even more chesed- and to be honest, I can’t think of such a thing.

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