Today, I preface this Roland’s Ramblings entry with a little background story about Chuck, a friend of mine who I have known for the past 60 years. Chuck and I were very good friends throughout our school years from first grade all the way to high school graduation in Toledo, Ohio where we attended Washington Local Schools.
Chuck had the neighborhood newspaper route of The Blade and was the newspaper carrier; I was his substitute carrier. When we were a bit older, Chuck had another part-time job as a janitor at a local “truck stop” restaurant; when he moved on from that, he arranged for me to be his replacement.
After high school, I went to The University of Toledo for further education; Chuck left Toledo. If I recall correctly, he served some time in the United States Navy before entering Grace Theological Seminary.
Chuck eventually became an Evangelical Missionary spending many, many years in Costa Rica. After Costa Rica, he joined the faculty of Cairn University where he served as Director, Missions Program and taught courses in intercultural ministry, Bible exposition and theology, etc. After Cairn University, my friend joined World Team as Director of Member Care and then becoming Director of Training Services and just last year began duties with Global Research and Coaching.
FYI, per its own description of itself, “World Team is an interdenominational missionary agency with 350+ workers in 28 countries working among 55+ people groups around the world. We exist to glorify God by working together to establish reproducing churches focusing on the unreached peoples of the world.”
I couldn’t just read his updated Linkedin account notation without making a comment.
So, I wrote, “You have done well, my lifelong friend!”
My friend, Chuck, responded to my comment, “And so with you, Roland. I have always been impressed with your commitment to public service. That is an area in which I fear to tread! I was with some friends at church yesterday, discussing a close friend, very brilliant, who just died at age 57. The comment was made (in spite of this person’s many weighty accomplishments), that we never see U-Hauls behind hearses. We came into the world with nothing and we leave it with nothing, barring what we take away from a relationship with God through Jesus. It gave me pause to remember how we measure ‘success’ on this side of reality. Your thoughts?”
Responding to Chuck, who has always known of and has appreciated my Jewish religion, I wrote, “To me, success is doing mitzvahs, i.e. acts of kindness in the performance of good deeds in helping people and our worldwide community.”
Now, on with the titled Roland’s Ramblings entry.
First off, this definition from Judaism 101:
Mitzvah (MITS-vuh); pl: Mitzvot (mits-VOHT)
Lit. commandment. Any of the 613 commandments that Jews are obligated to observe. It can also refer to any Jewish religious obligation, or more generally to any good deed.
From My Jewish Learning, we read, “One often hears someone Jewish saying, ‘It’s a mitzvah!’ usually referring to a charitable, beneficial act performed by another person. However, while its Yiddish parallel ‘mitzveh’ does have this connotation, the Hebrew word mitzvah does not mean ‘a good deed’ in that sense.”
For further explanation, please go over to the embedded link to read the entire article, Mitzvot: A Mitzvah Is a Commandment.
Here are a few excerpts from another article, courtesy of Torah.org:
-> “Mitzvah observance gives the promise of living an enlightened and meaningful existence.”
-> “The mitzvot reflect the infinite and eternal nature of their Author.”
-> “The importance of the mitzvah system is that it relates to the very nature of the Jewish people.”
-> “Judaism is not as much a religion as it is a relationship. It is only through mitzvah observance that man can build a deep, enduring, and meaningful relationship with God.”
Of course, you may go over to the following embedded link to read that entire article, What is a Mitzvah? by Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene.