Our Responsibility to Act Activity – The Nachson Story

Goal:To learn Jewish values of responsibility and necessity of action

Duration:15 minutes

Audience: All Ages


1) Tell the Nachson Story:

When it came time to cross the Red Sea, Moses and the Jews approached the edge and nothing happened, no miracle. Moses put his staff in the water and still nothing happened. The people started the panic, the Egyptians were coming and there was no miracle in sight.

One man of incredible faith, Nachson, decide to just walk into the water. He walked announcing that God would bring a miracle, but still nothing happened. He walked in deeper and deeper. The water passed his waist, his shoulders, his chin. When finally the water had passed his nose and he was walking entirely on faith, with no way to breathe, the sea split open and rose away from him.

2) Discuss, what is the moral of the story?

One answer: Miracles can happen, but only if we take the first confident steps ourselves.

3) Optional texts for additional discussion:

a. Pirkei Avot2:20,21

It’s not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to walk away from it (Lo Alecha Hamlacha Ligmore V’lo ata ben chorine lehivatel mimena)

b. "Look at My creations! See how beautiful and perfect they are… Make sure you do not spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you." Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) Rabbah 7:20

4) Explore ways humans can make a difference:

a) Preventative: reduce before we create the problem.

Examples: drive less, eat less meat, turn off lights, etc.

b) Responsive: deal responsibly with the waste we create

Examples: reuse materials, recycle, compost

c) Restorative: fix problems we have created

Examples: plant trees and gardens, restore endangered species

Since environmental challenges are continually unfolding it is our responsibility to take preventative action, as well as responsive. Since many of these effects can already be felt, we also have to act restorative.

Materials developed by Noam Dolgin, www.noamdolgin.com.

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