Our TOWF trustee meetings begin with a D’var Torah (Torah Study) for the Shabbat ahead. We are consistantly impressed that many of our trustees volunteer to write a D’var Torah – and they are just too wonderful not to share!
Below is a D’var Torah for this week’s portion, Behar-Bechukotai, by trustee Amy Kaufman:
“This week’s Torah portion deals with the tremendous responsibility each Jewish person has to practice Tikkun Olam, and perform mitzvot. Rabbis discuss we should be a “rodef shalom” – a pursuer of peace. They specify a pursuer of peace – not an “oseh shalom” – a maker of peace. Why? What is the difference between a pursuer of peace and a maker of peace? A maker of peace implies that peace was achieved – but is peace ever really achieved? As pursuers of peace, we continue to strive towards peace, in an ongoing process.
As I thought about this and what all of this means, it seemed fitting that this parsha would follow the week after Mother’s Day.
I thought about who originally instilled the important values in me to address when considering myself as a pursuer of peace: to put others before myself, to be a leader in my community in my endeavor to practice Tikkun Olam, to do mitzvot.
Of course, it was from watching my own mother. From a young age, I always saw my mother as a pursuer of peace and watched my mother selflessly give herself to others. She always put my sisters and my needs above her own, she donated her time and volunteered in many organizations, and she provided a leaning shoulder to her friends as they needed her. I watched my mother be the first to deliver food to a friend in suffering, the first to volunteer for the most unwanted committee heads, and the first to unite her group – whether our family, or her organization.
As we celebrate the mothers and other great women in our lives (our grandmothers, our aunts, our sisters and friends), we reflect upon the impact they had on shaping our lives and teaching us the importance of giving back to the community and to the world. We also hopefully consider how our own actions influence our daughters and sons, and our grandchildren.
As we finish up our site visits, and consider which grants to make, we pursue peace in several avenues. We listen and learn from others about what peace and success means for their cause.
Domestic trafficking- Can the programs we fund empower immigrant women to live peacefully in the DC area?
Agunah rights –Will this program help educate women and girls so they can appropriately and peacefully be granted a Jewish divorce?
Local lesbian and gay rights- can we provide a program that helps teenage girls be part of a community where they feel safe and can emerge as leaders?
This week’s parsha reminds us of the importance to continue to pursue peace for our social issues; even though the results may not be immediately achieved, this is an ongoing process and pursuit.
As women and as mothers, we play a significant role in shaping the values in our families. By being an active member of Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation, we can all be confident, that not only are continuing our personal road to be a rodef shalom, a pursuer of peace, but we are setting an example for our children.”
- Amy Kaufman, presented May 15, 2012