Chisuk Emuna Congregation

3219 Green St

Harrisburg, PA 17110

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  • Rabbi Ron Muroff

Why Do You Do What You Do?



Why Do You Do What You Do?


One way that I am managing my own stress during this challenging time is by studying Torah. There is a part of me that wonders whether it is appropriate for me to take time to study at a time when I could be (should be?) involved in more practical work to support you and other members of our congregation and community. Yet, I am finding Torah study to be energizing and helpful to me personally and I hope through me to you, as well.

In an online class on Sunday evening, Rabbi Aviva Richman of Hadar observed that ordinarily we think of mitzvoth/obligations as emanating from a commanding G-d. That paradigm delineates religious from secular Jews. If you accept G-d as One who commands then you feel obligated to do mitzoth but if you have doubts or don't believe in G-d (or at least that kind of G-d) then you don't feel obligated to fulfill mitzvoth. But what, Rabbi Richman asks, what if we explore obligations not as something that we are compelled to do by some external force but rather as deeds we do in response to a perceived lack or need. Parents don't - she argued - care for their newborn children because they feel compelled by some external force. They care for them out of love and out of a profound sense of responsibility.

To Rabbi Richman, it is through chesed that we experience the divine. Doing mitzvot then are conceptualized as a path that leads one to do good and experience G-d, a path that is not dependent upon feeling commanded by G-d prior to the action. The centrality of chesed is found in a teaching that Rabbi Richman shared: "Just as without the Creator's attribute of chesed, as it were, there is no place for created beings, so too without the attribute of chesed of those created beings there is no place for the Creator, as it were." - Rav Yitzhak Hutner

Let us do chesed. Especially now in the midst of this challenging time, there are needs for us to address. If you would like to offer support to people during this challenging time or if there are ways we can offer support, please contact Cheryl Sinoway (717) 503-3600, cheryl.sinoway@gmail.com, Nancy Simmons (717) 512-0561, nmosimm@gmail.com or me. Through acts of chesed, we serve others and experience our Creator.

Torah study like this is sustaining me. What is filling up your wells as you give of yourself to others? Please let me know.

Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek, Be strong, be strong and let us strengthen one another!

Ron Muroff 717-329-9597 rabbi@chisukemuna.org

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