By Danny Siegel
When The Good Person is in a community, that person is its radiance, its glory, and its brilliance. (Ruth Rabbah 2:12)
Mitzvah heroes are the best teachers of Mitzvahs, Tzedakah, Tikkun Olam. They are experts because they are in the thick of changing lives by small, medium, and large Mitzvah deeds. It is because of their Tikkun Olam work, they have a profound understanding of caring, power, the nature of people as human beings. For some people (myself included), they may even have the answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”…. Life is Mitzvahs.
They might state it in different words, such as “Some want to first understand all of the Why of It All and then to act. It is really the other way around. You do. You hold the hand of the lonely person; you spoon-feed an Elder who can no longer feed herself or himself, you pay a scholarship at a swimming pool or therapeutic horseback riding for someone damaged by a stroke so he or she can have a better chance at 100% rehabilitation. You do those things, and after you have done them, then you will know the Why of It All? If you ask and ask and spend years asking, you may have missed out.”
If it is the nature of Mitzvah heroes to be Tikkun Olam teachers, we ought to meet them, hang out with them, work with them, and, as a consequence of the doing, learn from them. To analogize: for those looking for the right graduate school, the student looks for two things: the right kind of program and certain specific professors who are the best in their field.
A master’s in drama, might lead you to two choices — a program that stresses academics, or one that teaches everything about hands-on acting, playwriting, and stage sets. Having chosen which category of drama program, you have to pick the program where the absolutely right professor for your own specific needs teaches.
Certainly, then, if the field of endeavor is Fixing the World, What Makes Good People Good, Life Itself, and the Meaning of Life, the wise decision would be to meet Mitzvah heroes, and do Tikkun Olam the way they do it.
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And don't miss Bill Begal's article "The Making of a Mitzvah hero"