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Friday, 28 February 2014

Are you a community sponge?

 Sukkah 25

“This community seems to fall on the shoulders of three or four people,” Jack said to me in exasperation.  “Why can’t others step up and do their part?  It seems that whenever we need something done, it’s the same people who are called upon!  How can we expect them to do everything?”

The Mishnah states “Those on a mission to do a mitzvah are exempt from the mitzvah of sukkah.”  Rashi gives examples of people who are journeying to learn Torah or to visit their rebbe (Torah teacher) or en route to redeem captives.

 Tosfos asks where we draw the line with this exemption that would seem to imply that one who is involved with one mitzvah is absolved from carrying out other mitzvos.  For example, is someone who is wearing  tzitzis (or tefillin) not obligated to do any other good deeds?  Or how about if I find a lost object and I’m in the process of trying to locate its owner, can I turn away a poor person who comes to my door asking for assistance?

 Tosfos concludes that the exemption only applies when the two mitzvos would be in conflict with one another.  For example, if stopping on my journey to build a sukkah would thereby delay my arrival to learn torah, then I would be absolved from the mitzvah of sukkah.

 We are often called upon to take on communal responsibilities and we excuse ourselves on the grounds that we are already doing so much for the community.  ‘Shouldn’t other people be stepping up to the plate?  I’m already doing my part!’

 Tosfos teaches that we are only off the hook if this new mitzvah would conflict with my current commitments.  If not, then I should volunteer my services.  After all, isn’t that what we are here on earth for?

 Some people are always going to be takers.  They will always find an excuse not to contribute time, money and effort.  Others are always dependable – you can count on them to volunteer and lead and contribute, time and time again.  The Almighty provides the strength and resources when you are working to fulfill His mission. 

You can make this world a better place!  Just keep raising your hand every time something needs to be done and G-d will help you make it happen!  You can be that guy!