What do you live for?
Rabbi Ari Kievman
Shul in Sandton Central @ The Kirsh Goodness & Kindness Centre
Their aim? Solidarity and support of people living in dire poverty. It was amazing to witness individuals foregoing their creature comforts for a cause.
As expected, the gesture was met with cynicism from some sceptics. Spending one night outdoors does not a homeless make. Several hours of discomfort was relieved by the reality of returning to the security of their mansions.
So what’s the big deal of sleeping outside in a cardboard box for one night, even if they contributed quite generously to the less fortunate? Would they be willing to forgo their luxuries and permanently move into the streets? But, wait! Would that actually be necessary to validate this point or is a token gesture valuable at all?
In the Torah portion of Chukat, which we read this week, we encounter a category of mitzvot known as “Chukim”. These commandments are observed simply because the Divine willed them, whether or not we find them comprehensible such as the laws of purity, kashrut and shatnez.
We are taught this fundamental Jewish concept, that we don’t observe mitzvoth as rational laws, but rather “because Hashem said so”. Therefore even if beyond our understanding, we still do them as we’re fulfilling the will of G-d.
This awareness has inspired Jews for centuries to, at times, give up their conveniences and comforts, sometimes even their lives for G-d and the preservation of Judaism.
Readiness to sacrifice for an ideal doesn’t make you a fanatic; it means that your life has purpose that is greater than yourself. The question then is, how much do you have to change? Do you have to move into a cardboard box until poverty is a matter of the past?
The Rebbe taught an empowering insight on the concept of self-sacrifice – Mesirat Nefesh today. The definition of Mesirat Nefesh is not only being thrown into a furnace or plunging into the Red Sea. Rather it means any and every submission one makes to Hashem. Any amount, every time.
You don’t need to change radically, you just need to make a change. Experience a night out in the frigid cold; give a few more rand to charity; go to that extra prayer; celebrate with family on Shabbos; pen some Torah study into your hectic schedule; flash the smile when you didn’t think you would.
This past weekend thousands of Jews converged at the Sandton Convention Centre to experience true Jewish unity at Sinai Indaba V. Can the inspiration continue? Certainly. Each day, just make a small commitment that is a little more than you’re accustomed to and in no time you’ll notice a huge difference in your life and the lives of those around you. Indeed, today we can!