Good morning to you! It is a cool, sunny morning here in Boulder, Colorado. I have just sent my children off to a week of Outdoor Education through their school, so I am feeling the pressing quiet in my little home. It is a perfect time to talk to you about the children we are trying to sponsor through Compassion.
As a Jew, I've been asked why I support a Christian organization. The truth is, when it comes to truly lifting a child (and his family) out of poverty, I believe Compassion does the best job. The children receive so much from our $38 each month. It's amazing.
I also don't think we Jews are as different from Christians as everyone believes. After all, we share the basics: G-d is One, G-d is merciful, we are made in G-d's image. Or as Hillel summarized, "What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. All else is commentary."
At its very core, Judaism cares about the well-being of humanity. The particulars of an individual's belief system is commentary. Let's just get it done! And Compassion does it so well.
But back to the children, G-d. What about them? I wonder what your plan is for them. I wonder what your plan is for us. I'm no prophet, but when it comes to the act of person helping person, I can't help but think that this is your way of motivating us, urging us on to get it done already! Get what done? The repair of the world.
Tikkun olam, the repair of the world, is a call to social action. It is a huge part of Judaism, and interestingly, a large part of preparing for Yom Kipper, which is coming right up. We are called to repair this broken world and how better to bring that about than to help the children?
My biggest question of faith, from the day I learned of the Holocaust, has been "Why do you allow bad things to happen?" I feel that way about these millions of children Compassion is trying to help. Why? Why does this exist?
And then I remember that this poverty exists because we made it happen. By exploiting the resources, few as they are, from impoverished nations, we created the problem. The only way to help is to return some of those resources to them.
I am constantly baffled that such inequality still exists. I would have been a good socialist, I suppose. Social equality is so hard for us to support - why is that, G-d? Why can't everyone write off a portion of their hard-earned income to tzedakah (righteous giving)?
I have always loved teaching my children about tzedakah. In Hebrew, tzedakah mean righteous behavior. You have taught us, G-d, that for Jews, giving tzedakah is not a simple matter of charity, but a requirement. It's not an option!
As I prepare for the High Holy Days, my mind constantly returns to the one song that stands out in my mind: Tzedakah, repentance and prayer temper G-d's decree. That idea of "closing the Book of Life" on Yom Kipper may be symbolic, at least to me, but it still is such a clear indicator of what is really important. Even if you mess up badly, even after you've asked forgiveness and prayed, still there is tzedakah ... still you must help others before you can begin to help yourself.
Why can't we live this way, G-d? Why can't we put others before ourselves? We certainly put our own children before ourselves. Why not all those in need?
I don't pretend to understand, but I do think you expect us to act. You expect us to help, to heal, to rescue those that are in need. You expect us to partner with others to actively engage in repairing this broken world. Here's where Compassion comes in.
They do such a good job, G-d! We've received two letters from Peter so far and it's so wonderful to know someone is feeling the reverberations of our concern! He knows he is loved, cared about, and prayed for by a family far away.
Our family will continue to pray for Peter and everyone in need. We will continue to talk up Compassion to everyone we know. I will try and write my best posts to inspire others to sponsor a child.
As Yom Kipper approaches, I want you to know that I have tried hard to do what is right. I am ready for your judgement. Please help me to convince others to repair this world of ours.