Parashat Shlah

How Do Activists Remain Active?

The tzitzit (fringes) on our clothes remind us not to be discouraged or lose hope for social change, based on the realities we see around us.

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The disability rights movement remains encouragingly clear about this. Disability publications, such as Ragged Edge and Mouth, regularly publish articles on ways to communicate, along with analyses of failures and successes in communicating. This self-critical attitude, which makes it possible to define and refine realistic goals and programs, is exactly what the Torah requires.

How can activists remain active? The Torah doesn't tell us to ignore the evidence of our eyes or the urges of our hearts, but to expect messy limits, to look towards the place where our hopes unravel, and to turn our eyes and hearts back towards the reminders of our goals and ideals.

As the act of donning and looking at the fringes is repeated daily, so must be the tasks of resistance. Ours is not to complete the work, as our sages assure us, only to stay the course.

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Nina Wouk is an accountant who spends most of her free time serving on three ritual committees.