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PAY IT FORWARD

by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

There is a new film titled Pay It Forward, with a very simple premise: Do a favor for three people. Then each of those three should help three more people until, eventually, the world has become a better place to live.

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There is a new film titled Pay It Forward, with a very simple premise: Do a favor for three people. Then each of those three should help three more people until, eventually, the world has become a better place to live. Although the movie has a noble concept. its plot is not original--and no, the idea didnít stem from George Bushís "thousand points of light" either.

The Rambam, popularly known as Maimonides, came up with the concept hundreds of years ago in his Eight Degress of Charity. In the Mishneh Torah, the Rambamís magnum opus, he describes in great detail the eight different ways to give charity, each level representing a heightened degree of sensitivity. Giving charity, doing favors for others, is a fundamental tenet of Judaism.

In this weekís portion, the Torah tells us that Noah is a righteous man in his generation. In essence, he is the best candidate for the job of saving humanity.

Noah sees how bad the people are around him, how corrupt they live their lives, and he chooses not to conduct himself in the same manner. Although he keeps his own nose clean, he doesnít do anything to try to improve the world around him. It wasnít until G-d instructed him to build the ark that Noah realized that he had to also take responsibility for others around him.

As members of the Jewish community--both on a local and global scale--we are responsibile for the well-being for those around us. We donít live in a vacuum. The problems of the Jew next door, as well as the problems of our Jewish brethren around the world, our part of our collective reponsibility of living our lives as decent Jews. Contrary to what many of us would rather believe, we are our brotherís keeper.

The Torah teaches us that to be a good person, it isnít enough not to hurt anyone. We have to actively try to make the world a better place. It is the Jewish peopleís national mission to be "a light unto the nations," to serve as the barometer of loving kindness in the world.

It is our job to pay it forward.

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Benyamin Cohen is editor of Torah from Dixie.

You are invited to read more Parshat Noach articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

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