We want make a meaningful impact on our communities, society, and the world. But what is the best way to make it happen?
Making money and donating it?
Ghandi, who broke the chains of the British Empire, said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” By living our personal lives as an embodiment of our ideals, we can reach beyond ourselves.
When Abraham had some unexpected guests show up at his home, he hurried to make them an impressive feast and also asked his son to run to draw some water. The Sages say that Abraham, the paradigm of caring for those in need, should not have sent his son, but should have drawn the water himself.
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein points out that there is a mitzvah to educate our children to be kind and caring people who are sensitive to the needs of others. When Abraham sent his son to get water, wasn’t this a means of teaching him to practice hospitality?
Rabbi Feinstein answers that not only did Abraham fall short of the ideal expression of hospitality, he did not even fulfill the mitzvah of education properly when he told his son to get the water! The best way to teach others is not by telling them what to do. It is through personal example.
Personifying a change you want to see in the world, without demanding it from others, allows those who observe you to adopt your behavior on their own terms and at their own pace. It’s a powerful tool for change.