“We will do and we will listen”

One of Tzedek’s values, Na’aseh V’Nishma (“we will do and we will listen”), is a core idea celebrated on the Jewish festival of Shavuot. Dalia Isaacson, Ben Azzai 2019 participant, shared her thoughts on how this value relates to our responsibility during the current crisis.

From Dalia Isaacson:

This year we find ourselves celebrating Shavuot under exceptional circumstances. As COVID-19 has spread round the world, no aspect of our social structure has been left untouched. Now, more than ever, we can truly relate to the vow of Shavuot; Na’aseh V’nishma – we will do, and we will hear.

The whole world is listening to someone or something – the government, community leaders or the needs of the most vulnerable – and vitally acting in response. There is more emphasis than ever on the individual; one individual who doesn’t keep to the social distancing rules could trigger the spread of a deadly virus and conversely one individual who tends to the needs of others more vulnerable could save their lives. Right now, with our actions impacting everyone around us, we are learning to appreciate the value of the individual as part of the collective; what it means to be significant members of the community.

However, the current world climate has still more to teach us. In December, I had the incredible opportunity to take part on the Ben Azzai 2019 study trip to Ghana. It was during this time that I learnt about Tzedek and their incredible initiatives aimed at tackling poverty. Their belief, that poverty can be solved through seeking to increase justice (tzedek) and that we have a responsibility to try to bring greater justice to the world, is something that really stood out to me. The crisis currently facing the world only reinforces this message of the global brotherhood of mankind. Never before has it been so evident that through our impact on our immediate community, we have the opportunity and responsibility to also positively affect the wider world around us.

Acting without listening is dangerous; listening without acting is useless. Tzedek have made it their responsibility to act upon the needs of their partners overseas, who are listening to the needs of their community (Tzedek’s beneficiaries). Whilst we may be stuck at home and extremely limited by what we can do with our time, it is important we act and realise our potential – not just listening to the current government guidelines but also through acting and responding to the needs of others. At the moment, we can’t act safely without listening but there is also little value in listening without taking action – now, more than ever, we must act to support those in need.