Image: Box of food for the hungry. (135 Pixels / Shutterstock, all rights reserved.)
Pirkei Avot is a section of the Mishnah which is full of pithy advice. Pirkei Avot can be translated “Verses of the Fathers” but I prefer to think of it as “Advice from the Uncles.” (Alas, there are no women quoted in it!) Here’s one of my Top Ten from the book:
Ben Azzai said: Be quick in performing a minor commandment as in the case of a major one, and flee from transgression; For one commandment leads to another commandment, and transgression leads to another transgression; For the reward for performing a commandment is another commandment and the reward for committing a transgression is a transgression.Pirkei Avot 4:2
This verse is the foundation for Living on the Mitzvah Plan, the plan for living I use when depression knocks on my door. It reminds me that our lives tend to spiral in whatever direction we choose to aim them: if you choose a good path, it will go up and up, but a bad path will lead to compounding disasters.
This time of year, there is lots of winter cold left, but the donations and goodwill of the December holiday season are past. Consider looking up your local Food Bank and sending them a buck or two; they will turn every small donation into an astonishing pile of healthy food for their clients. According to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, they turn every $1 donated into SEVEN DOLLARS worth of food!
Here in the Bay Area of California, housing is expensive and many people are going without food — or with less healthy food — in order to keep up with rent or house payments. You may have neighbors who are food insecure and hiding it. By supporting the local Food Bank, you help the working poor eat better, and you may help keep a neighbor from sliding into homelessness.
Friday is a great day to give a little tzedakah (money to relieve suffering or deprivation) since we are just about to enjoy Shabbat. Consider sending any amount to your local food bank, to spread the joy of Shabbat!