Help Where You Can
Yael Eckstein | August 26, 2020
If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner. — Deuteronomy 22:1
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Teitzei, which means “when you go out,” from Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19.
One of the habits that my husband and I teach our children is that if they see something in the wrong place, to pick it up and put it where it belongs — even if they were not the one who left it there. For example, if they see the milk on the kitchen counter, they should put it back in the refrigerator. Or, if they see a ball in the middle of the hallway, they should put it away where it won’t cause someone to trip.
We teach our children to honor this basic rule not only so that we can have a cleaner and safer home, but also so that they will become accustomed to taking this approach to the world at large. I want my children to know that if they see something out of order, they shouldn’t avert their eyes, but rather step in and help whenever they can.
In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about the requirement to return lost objects. The verse reads, “If you see your fellow Israelite’s ox or sheep straying, do not ignore it but be sure to take it back to its owner.” The Jewish sages explained that this verse also teaches us that if we come across any problem at all — a lost object, a lost child, or any need — we must do what we can to solve it. The verse stresses “do not ignore it,” don’t hide or look away from the needs that come your way. In a world full of problems, if we know about one, we are required to do what we can about it.
There is no shortage of problems in our world, and while none of us can fix everything, all of us can do something. If God shows us a problem, we must ask how we can help, and offer assistance when we can. If we all do our part, we will make a huge difference, and with the help of God, solve every problem and fix everything that is broken in our world.
What problems in your community or in the world are calling for your attention? What one step might you take toward fixing them?