“Have you been saved?”
I grew up in the Southeast, so I’ve been asked that question a few times. “Have you been saved?” is a way of sorting the sheep from the goats: are you a Christian yet?
I am here to tell you that I have not been saved. I have no intention of “being saved.” However, I have on my shoulders the ol hashamayim, the yoke of the covenant, and therefore I am on a mission to save, to redeem, this world. I am not on that mission by myself. I am on that mission as a member of the Jewish People.
My commitment as a Jew is to action, more than belief. Jews believe a lot of different things: even the most orthodox of us have latitude in our interpretations. But all of us, every single one of us, is called to see to it that when we leave this earth it is in better shape than we found it. We cannot do that with belief or thought. We can only do that with action: action with our choices, action with our bodies, action with our use of resources, action with our speech, action in the voting booth.
God redeemed the Jews from Egypt, and then, at Sinai, God handed us our part of the deal: we are here on earth to perform mitzvot, to fulfill our sacred duties, to act. It is in doing, in acting, that we will be sanctified, we will become holy.
So no, I have not “been saved.” I’m here in the Jewish mode, in the active voice: I’m here to save. I’m here to act, when I see my neighbor bleeding. I’m here to act on behalf of the widow and the orphan. As Hillel taught us in Mishnah Avot 2:6, “in a place where there are no decent people, be a decent person.” That’s an interpretive translation: literally it’s “In a place where there are no men, be a man.” Either way, action, not passivity, is what Hillel advocates.
May this Passover be a time of rededication to that sacred mission: to perform mitzvot and make a real difference in the world, a difference for the better. It is for this that we were brought out of Egypt.
This post is part of the Blogging the Exodus project. A group of rabbis are blogging from the 1st of Nisan to the beginning of Passover on Passover topics. If you want to find some great rabbinic blogs, or some interesting things to ponder as you clean up the chometz, you can locate those blogs via the Twitter hashtag #BlogExodus.