Mitzvah Day: More than Tzedakah

May 17, 2024

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Emor, in the middle of the book of Leviticus, along with the laws of Passover observance and counting the Omer, and rules around priestly behavior, the Israelites are given the law of pe’ah, which lays the foundation for the sacred obligation of giving tzedakah. When the Israelites enter the Promised Land and begin to settle and cultivate it, they are commanded not to harvest to the very edges of their fields, but to leave the corners for the poor and the stranger.

In other words, landowners, those of means, must leave the margins of their crops for those living on the margins of society, those in the most need, so that they might take freely without suffering the indignity of having to beg for food to feed themselves or their families. This kind of giving is rooted in a sense of tzedek, justice, and is deeply tied to the Torah’s pursuit of creating an equitable society, and Judaism’s expectation of us to help create a more equitable world – one in which we are obligated to care for one another in real, tangible ways, not because we’re sad or sorry for others or feel guilty, but because it’s the right thing to do.

With this value of justice in mind, and as an opportunity to put our values into action, we hope you’ll join us for TOS’s Mitzvah Day 2024, on Tuesday May 28th! Many, many thanks go to Leigha Cuniberti and Kate Murray of the TOS Social Action committee for their leadership in bringing this year’s offerings together.

There will be several projects scattered throughout the TOS building addressing various systemic needs like income inequity and food insecurity, and fulfilling various Jewish values, like being good stewards of Creation and bikkur cholim (caring for the sick).

I am so grateful that this is a community committed to creating and sustaining a just and equitable society, and hope you can join for this very special opportunity to help do just that.

Rabbi Jennifer Queen