Elul 13, 5779
September 13, 2019
In Deuteronomy 22:3 we read
. This dictum is often translated as "You must not remain indifferent,” but literally, the words mean “you shall not hide yourself.” You cannot pretend that the ills of the world have nothing to do with you. Even if you feel paralyzed or unable to make a meaningful difference, you still must not hide from knowing what is going on in the world around you. You are needed.
From our Sources
In Deuteronomy 22:3 we read tuchal l'hitaleim, "You must not remain indifferent.” With this declaration, the Torah is giving us less a law to follow, but more an approach to life: we must be oriented to being engaged, being not only aware of injustice, but having a desire and motivation to do something about it.
-Rabbi Marc Sack
It is a powerful dictum, a motto for everyday life. It could have been formulated for our middle-class existence, when people talk of compassion fatigue, of undeserving refugees; when we create rational and reasonable explanations for our unwillingness to care about the discomfort in the world we see around us.
Lo tuchal le’hitalem
– you shall not remain indifferent – it is an in-your-face moral and ethical requirement, taking us further into our humanity, reminding us that however practical Judaism is, however much a religion of doing, the doing is based on our shared humanity, our striving to reach a fuller and richer knowledge of our Source.
Rabbi Sylvia Rothchild
Over the past year have you found yourself growing indifferent to or hiding from the sufferings of others? If so, what has contributed to this?
Many believe that simply getting involved in some project, organization or cause that brings healing to the world helps us reconnect to our shared humanity.
What organizations or causes might you commit to in the coming year?
Before Rosh Hashanah, commit to at least one action where you are doing something to help improve the life of others not in your immediate family circle. Donate money to an organization. Volunteer one hour of time to a cause that is meaningful to you. Write one letter or make one phone call to your elected representative sharing your thoughts about an upcoming issue or vote.