Parashat Ki Tavo

A Covenant of Action

Judaism emphasizes deed, not creed.

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Expanding this oft-cited mitzvah from the individual scale to the community offers a recipe for sustainable development. The most empowering and long-lasting support we can provide for a community in need is to assist it to create the infrastructure to care for and protect itself. This kind of development also often has spillover effects by enabling an increasingly self-sufficient community to assist its neighbors through its newfound wisdom and resources.

Manifesting our covenant with God through action tips the scale away from curses and toward blessings. As Heschel maintained, "In a sacred deed we echo God's suppressed chant…We intone God's unfinished song. God depends upon us, awaits our deeds." We have the opportunity to heal our world and make it a place of peace. The list of blessings and curses in the Torah reminds us that we must choose each and every day to be active partners with God working to repair the world.

We begin this work at the individual level, but must recognize that it needs to be applied also at the community level if we are to build a truly just society. We do not only hold the fate of our personal lives in our hands, we also hold the fate of humanity. Through acts of holiness, we engender God's presence in our midst and become sacred instruments through which God's justice, goodness, mercy, and love enter and transform the world.

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Rabbi Jessica Kessler Marshall was ordained as a Reform rabbi from Hebrew Union College in New York City and is thrilled to be joining NC Hillel. Originally from Chicago, Rabbi Marshall graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Psychology.