This week, Mitzvah Corps teens have focused both on listening and learning from local communities and leaders, and on taking action to enact lasting change.
A fresh community of teens in New Orleans has arrived to help ease the burden of racial and economic disparities; the group in Seattle has begun running a summer camp for refugee children; participants in Israel have traveled from Tel Aviv to the Negev to work with desert communities; in Ecuador, the group has become immersed in village life and rural economic development; in Costa Rica, they have worked with sea turtles and a local school; and in New Jersey, the participants have built relationships with the alumni whose legacy they carry, and begun their second work rotations.
In Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1), we read about how, unlike Moses’s punishment for impulsive acts of aggression and violence, Aaron’s grandson Pinchas is rewarded by God for his act of zealotry in killing two people. Though the double standard seems unfair, the context is telling. Moses lashed out with God by his side, speaking and listening to him. Pinchas’s actions took place in a divine vacuum; in the face of chaos that was unfolding without God’s guidance.
From this we are reminded, da lifney mi atah omed know before whom you stand. Our Mitzvah Corps groups must learn lessons from both Moses and Pinchas; there are times when they will seek out guidance from their elders, from local community leaders who have much to offer. In those moments, we understand we must sit back, we must listen, we must learn. And yet, there are times when the burden of action falls directly on us, when we’ve taken in what we need to know, and our strength, bravery, and willingness to lead is what will help move the world forward.
If you have a question or want to share your Mitzvah Corps experience, we would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us at MitzvahCorps@urj.org.
Director of Strategic Partnerships & Development