Team Tzedek Introduction

Elie Wiesel [on Indifference], US News & World Report (27 October 1986).

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And, the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference. Because of indifference one dies before one actually dies.

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Why does Wiesel equate indifference to death? Do you agree?
2. According to this text, what is the purpose of living?
3. Can you relate to Wiesel's philosophy? How might you apply this statement?

(יז) לִמְד֥וּ הֵיטֵ֛ב דִּרְשׁ֥וּ מִשְׁפָּ֖ט אַשְּׁר֣וּ חָמ֑וֹץ שִׁפְט֣וּ יָת֔וֹם רִ֖יבוּ אַלְמָנָֽה׃ (ס)

Learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged. Uphold the rights of the orphan; defend the cause of the widow. [JPS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. What does it mean to "do good"?

2. How can we devote ourselves to justice?

(ו) כִּ֛י חֶ֥סֶד חָפַ֖צְתִּי וְלֹא־זָ֑בַח וְדַ֥עַת אֱלֹהִ֖ים מֵעֹלֽוֹת׃

For I desire kindness and not sacrifice, attachment to God rather than burnt offerings. [Translation by Areyvut]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Why do we perform sacrifices? Who are they for?

2. Why do we perform acts of kindness? Who are they for? Why are they ultimately preferable?

3. What type of a society prefers sacrifices over kindness and attachment to God? How can we combat this?

(יז) לֹ֣א תַטֶּ֔ה מִשְׁפַּ֖ט גֵּ֣ר יָת֑וֹם וְלֹ֣א תַחֲבֹ֔ל בֶּ֖גֶד אַלְמָנָֽה׃ (יח) וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֛ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ מִשָּׁ֑ם עַל־כֵּ֞ן אָנֹכִ֤י מְצַוְּךָ֙ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֶת־הַדָּבָ֖ר הַזֶּֽה׃ (ס)

You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger, the orphan; you shall not take a widow's garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that Adonai your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment. [JPS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. Why are we commanded specifically regarding the rights of the stranger, orphan, and widow? What do they have in common? Who do they represent in society?

2. In what ways does remembering a history of slavery enable us to care for the widow, orphan and stranger?

3. How do we care for the stranger, orphan, and widow today? How do we fail to care for them? How can we improve?

(יד) דִּרְשׁוּ־ט֥וֹב וְאַל־רָ֖ע לְמַ֣עַן תִּֽחְי֑וּ וִיהִי־כֵ֞ן יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֵֽי־צְבָא֛וֹת אִתְּכֶ֖ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲמַרְתֶּֽם׃

Seek good and not evil that you may live and that the Lord, the God of Hosts, may truly be with you. [JPS translation]

Suggested Discussion Questions

1. According to this text, why should we seek good instead of evil? Does this reasoning surprise you?

2. How does this text connect to your own idea of good and evil? What about your sense of reality - do those who choose good live, and those who choose evil perish? How can we reconcile this apparent contradiction?