I was feeling powerless this week.
And I know I'm not alone.
We're powerless to stop the heartbreak and turmoil in Israel.
We're powerless to bring back the innocent lives lost in the plane crash yesterday.
We're powerless to stop the gang violence in Chicago.
But then, on my way into the office this morning, I saw a guy in casual Friday attire hand a guy on a street corner a dollar--and I looked at things a bit differently. I remembered that we're not powerless.
In our little corner of the world, in small ways, we can take a bit of the power back. By doing mitzvahs,we can move the needle, and shift our despair into hope.
That's what my dear friend Stephanie did. Her infant son passed away in December and--being the incredible human being Steph is--she transformed her pain into something positive, by launching projects to help make other people's lives better. She did all of this in her son Rylan's memory, so that his short life would always have purpose.
One of the projects Stephanie created is a website for people to post kindnesses that they have committed or been shown by friends, family, and strangers. Even through that website, Rylan has left a beautiful legacy, creating ripple effects of kindness in the world.
Did you know that today is Nelson Mandela's birthday today, designated a day of service to make other people's lives a little better?
So I thought we could all take a cue from Stephanie, from Rylan, and from President Mandela, and each do a mitzvah this Shabbat:
Say a prayer for Israel and help our Israeli brothers and sisters through the JUF Israel Emergency Campaign. Buy a homeless person a sandwich. Give your seat on the bus to someone who had a harder day than you. Call up an old friend who you know could use a phone call. Invite an acquaintance who may not have a place to go for Shabbat dinner. The list goes on and on.
I'm not equating ending global terrorism with buying a guy a sandwich--because if only it were that easy. But I also think we can't just throw our hands up in exasperation.
As Pirkei Avot teaches us: "It's not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it."
So this Shabbat, stand up for Israel. Stand up for that person on the bus. Shift the balance of power and energy off some of the bad stuff and add some more good stuff into the world.
Because--man--does the world need it.