A few days ago, we had the first ever training for the J-Serve ambassadors in Argentina. It was very interesting, and during it we shared ideas about our ideal J-Serve event and the values that we wanted to showcase in our community. Several inspiring ideas were shared with the group, but we had not landed on an idea everyone agreed on. What captivated me the most was a moral dilemma shared with us by our mentor, Rabbi Meir to get us to think introspectively. He asked us which is better: giving 100 people a one-dollar bill or helping only one person with 100 dollars. We began openly debating the pros and cons and giving convincing arguments and opinions for helping more or less people. Rabbi Meir shared a reflection: absolutely every action has its reaction. Jews are very few in the world, but we are known because of the actions we do and the values we have. Essentially, we are represented by the acts we commit. So, what would generate more impact, helping 100 people, or just one individual? It is not about the amount of money that could be given to each one, but about the intention to help as many people as possible.
When I think of this week's Parsha, Parshat Ki Tisa, I reflect on this very question. In this portion we read about how Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments and found the Israelites worshiping a homemade golden calf. The Israelites spent all the money and wealth that they had attained on making something merely selfish and abominable. Rashi, the great commentator, explains that money is like fire. On one hand, it has the potential to give heat and help people prepare food if that is what the money is used for, but it can also destroy property and lives if used incorrectly. Money has the power to build and destroy. A person can ruin his life and others with his pursuit of wealth. If wealth is shared and used to help others, no matter what its amount, it can impact many people and valuable institutions can be built.
The numerical equivalent of the word Shekel, the Biblical and current Israeli currency, according to gematria is 430, the same as the word Nefesh (soul), symbolizing that the delivery of the currency is the delivery of the soul. The Israelites gave all their gold and gave their whole soul in the construction of heathen statues, losing trust and respect for G-d, out of fear.
Therefore, this Parsha gives us the possibility to think about what portion of our soul we want to give up, and for what. We are the impact that our actions generate, so let's use our wealth, both material and emotional, to help complete our earthly mission of Tikkun Olam (repair the world). Just as Rabbi Meir said, we should always help as many people as we can no matter what, because every small act can change the world.
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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