Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Home Entertainment: A Mitzvah Story

Over winter break, my school sent home directions and supplies to make a "Mitzvah Story" book. In Judaism, the term mitzvah means an act of human kindness -- a good deed. Mom unpacked it all, noted what a nice idea it was, and then put it on our kitchen counter where it sat for two weeks. Upon returning to school after the holidays, we realized we forgot to put my story together! So we sat down together to find photographs illustrating the various mitzvahs highlighted in the directions (helping family, helping friends, helping the neighborhood, and taking care of nature). I was all for that part and even helped stretch our imaginations a bit. Then mom asked me to help fill in the blanks for the question prompts and I decided I didn't want to do it. I "didn't like helping people" and I "felt nothing" when doing mitzvahs. I have a knack for being a real PITA when I decide I don't want to do something. So mom said fine and put it away.

A few days later I asked for an art project and mom asked whether I'd like to make the cover for my mitzvah book. I was into that and wanted to do a collage with bleeding art tissue paper. Fortunately the board book cover of my mitzvah story was pretty sturdy and I modpodged on, peeled off, and reglued a whole bunch of tissue paper. Only then was I excited to bring it in to school and share it. Mom said (paraphrasing here) something about "you gotta look like you don't need it and then they give it to you for free." Whatever that means.

I think she really just thought the book was a concrete way for us to realize all the nice things I do for people even if I don't think of them that way and how I could think about continuing those acts. And I did. For the next week I came up with good deeds, large and small and that generally somehow also benefited me, and kept asking "that's a good mitzvah, right?" And, as it turns out, yes, sometimes cupcakes for everyone are definitely a mitzvah.

1 comment:

Cath said...

Love it! I worked at the JCCNV in college and we always did several mitzvah projects with the kids. Such a great, concrete way to teach children about doing good for others! I love Kane's book. What a good kid!