Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Kavvanah, 5/31/2011 - Do Something!

Last week I attended the annual Cantors Assembly convention in Toronto, and on Wednesday we were addressed by Dr. Arnold Eisen, the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is committed to the concept of mitzvah, of our being commanded to perform particular actions, and has guided the Seminary in recent years to establish the Mitzvah Initiative, a program that helps Conservative Jews get in touch with Jewish living.

He began his remarks by reminding us that we are bound by a covenant (in Hebrew, "berit") with God, and our end of the bargain is to perform those mitzvot that God has asked of us. Jews, said Dr. Eisen, do not exist merely to exist; we are here in this world to do something, and that something ranges from the ritual (e.g. tefillah / prayer, holidays) to the mundane (e.g. kashrut / dietary laws) to the active care of each other (mitzvot bein adam lehavero / mitzvot that are incumbent upon us regarding our obligations to other people, e.g. tzedaqah / charity or ethical business practices).

Today is a back-to-work Tuesday, and at morning minyan I reminded the assembled that having donned tallit and tefillin and recited the morning tefillot was the beginning of the day's Jewish life, not the end. As we go about our day, it might be helpful to remember that we do have a purpose in this world. Do something!

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