Achievement And Action

Joseph teaches us to use our material success in the service of those who are needy.

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Mazon is just one example of a Jewish organization reaching out its hand from the place of success and ascent in order to repair the world in the tradition of Joseph, seeing its mission as religiously commanded. Thus we may see ourselves, like Joseph, as having been given the privilege to preserve life.

"Tzedek Hillel" programs on college campuses devote much of their social justice work to hunger issues, and Dorot in New York City addresses on an ongoing basis issues of poverty and hunger among the elderly.

The list goes on and on. The point it makes is this: at a time of unprecedented success in American Jewish life, we must not merely celebrate the overall achievement of our community, but also recognize that many are still hungry.

Joseph, by one reading, could have easily forsaken his obligation to others based on the suffering he had experienced earlier in his life. But in transcending his painful past, he was able to reach out the hand of peace to his family, to his Egyptian neighbors and to future generations of readers of Torah. Joseph feeds us with his wisdom. His own actions serve as an inspiration for the command God gives all us in the duty to feed the hungry.

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Rabbi Andrew Bachman

Rabbi Andy Bachman is the spiritual leader at Congregation Beth Elohim, Brooklyn's largest Reform synagogue. He is also the co-founder, along with his wife Rachel Altstein, of Brooklyn Jews, a unique cultural and learning programs for Jews in their 20s and 30s.