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Mitzvah Yomit: A Women’s League Initiative

Introduction

One of the most comforting aspects of Judaism is its abiding optimism for human potential. Hopefully, we are always striving to perfect ourselves, and yes, even to perfect the world. In support of these goals we are fortunate to have been provided with a roadmap: it is called mitzvot.

From nearly the beginning of Jewish peoplehood we have been instructed how to behave, both in our relationship to the Creator and in our relationships with each other: don’t lie, don’t cheat, help the less fortunate, guard our speech, protect the environment, respect the dead, honor parents, observe the Sabbath and the festivals of the LORD. These are but a few of the hundreds of mitzvot that we have been commanded to perform, daily, yearly, and throughout our lives.

An excuse that Jews frequently invoke to disregard religious demands is an inability to do it all – to embrace everything wholeheartedly and with intent. This approach, according to Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson in his work, It’s a Mitzvah!, results in discouraging willing Jews from exploring their own heritage and distorts the true nature of Judaism that supports our drive to improve ourselves.

We need to relinquish this all-or-nothing approach. We need to acknowledge that the performance of mitzvot has the ability to elevate us as human beings. The rabbis of the Talmud understood this very well, as is stated in Pirkei Avot: (4:2) …one mitzvah generates another…the reward for a mitzvah is another mitzvah. The spiritual benefits of ethical/religious behavior are incalculable, and now the medical world is beginning to recognize its benefits for our physical selves as well.

We are tremendously proud of our new Women’s League initiative: Mitzvah Yomit–A Mitzvah a Day. With this new undertaking that began at Convention 2008 in Detroit, we are encouraging our membership to be aware of the mitzvot that they already perform, and to increase their level of performance.

In support of this venture we have developed the enclosed materials and activities:

Contents

  1. Mitzvah Yomit Card, containing berakhot and hundreds of mitzvoth-ambitious and modest-that we can study and embrace.
  2. Mitzvah Yomit Study and Activity Guides

How to Use the Mitzvah Yomit Material

  1. Read through the material carefully.
  2. Determine how much time you want to spend on the various units. It can be as little as 30 minutes to an entire day.
  3. All of the units are designed to be lay-lead.
  4. The activities are varied: some discussion, some hevruta or small groups. The choice is entirely up to you.
  5. If possible, handouts should be reproduced for all participants in any one session. If you cannot reproduce everything, the following are essential; all of the materials can be downloaded from the WLCJ website or can be photocopied on request.
    • Pirkei Avot Text Study: Part II Hevruta Study (pages 3-4); Prayer for Women Studying Torah (page 5).
    • Ritual Mitzvot: Techinah for Candle Lighting (page 3)
    • Ethical Mitzvot: “Practical Guide to Comforting the Distressed or Ill” (page 3); “A Guide to Hospital Visits” (page 4);“Pikuach Nefesh” (page 5); “Random Acts of Kindness”(pg. 6); “Quiz on Speech” (pages 4-5); “Tzedakah Activites” (page 2).
    • Participants Texts: Bal Tachshit
  6. The success of this initiative is in your hands. If you dedicate time and effort to this initiative, you are affirming the importance of actions and values.
  7. Use them. Reuse them. Improve upon them. Share your successes with each other and with us.
  8. Remember: The reward of a mitzvah is another mitzvah!