צדק צדק תרדוף

JEWISH SOCIAL JUSTICE

OUR ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

What Jewish values and experiences lead Jews to support Social Justice Movements?

  • What Jewish experiences and values motivated Jewish clergy to participate in the Civil Rights and Labor Rights Movements?

  • Why were Jewish women in particular involved in organizing the garment industry?

  • What roles do you think Jews should play in relation to political and social issues today?

THE ORIGINS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

Isaiah 58:3-7
Why, when we fasted, did You not see? When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed? Because on your fast day you see to your business and oppress all your laborers! 

Because you fast in strife and contention, and you strike with a wicked fist! Your fasting today is not such as to make your voice heard on high. 

​Is such the fast I desire, a day for men to starve their bodies? Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast, a day when Adonai is favorable?

No, this is the fast I desire: To unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. 

​It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home; when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin."

ישיהו נח:ג-ז

לָ֤מָּה צַּ֙מְנוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א רָאִ֔יתָ עִנִּ֥ינוּ נַפְשֵׁ֖נוּ וְלֹ֣א תֵדָ֑ע הֵ֣ן בְּי֤וֹם צֹֽמְכֶם֙ תִּמְצְאוּ־חֵ֔פֶץ וְכָל־עַצְּבֵיכֶ֖ם תִּנְגֹּֽשׂוּ׃

הֵ֣ן לְרִ֤יב וּמַצָּה֙ תָּצ֔וּמוּ וּלְהַכּ֖וֹת בְּאֶגְרֹ֣ף רֶ֑שַׁע לֹא־תָצ֣וּמוּ כַיּ֔וֹם לְהַשְׁמִ֥יעַ בַּמָּר֖וֹם קוֹלְכֶֽם׃

הֲכָזֶ֗ה יִֽהְיֶה֙ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵ֔הוּ י֛וֹם עַנּ֥וֹת אָדָ֖ם נַפְשׁ֑וֹ הֲלָכֹ֨ף כְּאַגְמֹ֜ן רֹאשׁ֗וֹ וְשַׂ֤ק וָאֵ֙פֶר֙ יַצִּ֔יעַ הֲלָזֶה֙ תִּקְרָא־צ֔וֹם וְי֥וֹם רָצ֖וֹן לַיהוָֽה׃

הֲל֣וֹא זֶה֮ צ֣וֹם אֶבְחָרֵהוּ֒ פַּתֵּ֙חַ֙ חַרְצֻבּ֣וֹת רֶ֔שַׁע הַתֵּ֖ר אֲגֻדּ֣וֹת מוֹטָ֑ה וְשַׁלַּ֤ח רְצוּצִים֙ חָפְשִׁ֔ים וְכָל־מוֹטָ֖ה תְּנַתֵּֽקוּ׃

הֲל֨וֹא פָרֹ֤ס לָֽרָעֵב֙ לַחְמֶ֔ךָ וַעֲנִיִּ֥ים מְרוּדִ֖ים תָּ֣בִיא בָ֑יִת כִּֽי־תִרְאֶ֤ה עָרֹם֙ וְכִסִּית֔וֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ֖ לֹ֥א תִתְעַלָּֽם׃

  • ​What is the big idea of this selection?

  • This selection is part of a הפטרה read on יום כפור. Why do you think this selection was chosen to be read on יום כפור?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tells a hasidic tale about rebuking an overzealous scholar:

 

The future second Lubavitcher Rebbe (the ‘Mitteler' Rebbe) who was once so intent on his studies that he failed to hear the cries of his baby son. His father (Reb Shneor Zalman of Lyadi) heard, and went down and took the baby in his arms until he went to sleep again. Then he went into his son, still intent on his books, and said, “My son, I do not know what you are studying, but it is not the study of Torah if it makes you deaf to the cry of a child.”

 

Jonathan Sacks sums up the message:

 

To live the life of faith is to hear the cry of the afflicted, the lonely and marginal, the poor, the sick and disempowered, and to respond. For the world is not yet mended, there is work still to do, and God has empowered us to do it - with him, for him and for his faith in us.

Let's look at two of the most important social justice movements in American history. Click on one of the images below to explore that social justice movement with your chevruta partner then we'll come back together to share what we've learned.

Civil Rights Movement
Labor Rights Movement

© 2016 by Rabbi David Paskin

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