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Be a Goody Two-Shoes

Hebrew Calendar

5776
Yom R'vi'i
15th of Heshvan 

Gregorian Calendar

2015
Wednesday
October 28th

Tishrei | Heshvan | Kislev | Tevet | Shevat | Adar | Nissan | Iyar | Sivan | Tammuz | Av | Elul
Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec

THE SKINNY


In the Y2K film, Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt (IMO not their best work), a young boy tries to make the world a better place by doing good deeds for three people. In exchange, they’re supposed to pay it forward by similarly good-deeding others and so on and so on. The film launched a whole Pay It Forward movement, but the movie’s credits forgot to mention the film’s real star: God. While Mr. Big didn’t actually make a cameo appearance, God was the real inventor of Pay It Forward and it was lighting up the Twitterverse 5,000 years ago: #Mitzvah (meets-yah) Goreret (go-rare-it) Mitzvah (meets-yah). It means: One good deed brings about another good deed. Actually, Mr. G. can’t take all the credit. God’s Wozniak was a second century scholar named Shimon ben Azzai who was Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah’s coder.
 
Oh, we can hear you already: Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah is just like Karma. Not so fast, skeptical SKINNIES. Karma is a Hindu and Buddhist teaching where we’re rewarded or punished based on our actions in this life or in past reincarnations. While that’s way cool in a cosmic way, it’s not quite what we’re SKINNYing about here. For starters, Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah isn’t about paying the price or reaping the rewards from your previous life or even setting you up for your next one – ‘cause, well, that’s not so Jewish, but more on that in another SKINNY. And, it’s not the Hollywood version of Pay it Forward either. Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah is literal. Take this test.
 
CHOOSE ONE - Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah is:
 
a.) You do something awesomely good. It inspires others to do good too.
 
b.) You do something awesomely good. It feels good, so you do it again, and again, and then it becomes a habit and you just keep on doing it.
 
c.) All of the Above.
 
We just love multiple choice tests when the answer is so obviously All of the Above. Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah means: when we do good things, we inspire others and ourselves. We pick up extra Blue Bottle for our cubemate. We send Instacart to our homebound neighbor. We tweet our new Kickstarter obsession. We buy the first round at Happy Hour. We do both random acts of kindness and thoughtful acts of kindness.
 
The contrast to Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah is Averah (ah-ver-ah) Goreret (go-rare-it) Averah (ah-ver-ah), which means: A transgression of sin leads to another sin. And no, we don't mean that smoking pot leads to heroin. Averah Goreret Averah follows a similar pattern to its do-gooder twin. If you do something really bad, others could be inspired to do bad things too. And, we can become desensitized or accustomed to wrong-doings and then it's not long before we're riding with AC/DC on the Highway to Hell.
 
We’ve all been there. Consider this: You drop your iPhone and impulsively exclaim, “Oh, Shit!” It’s not long before you get a call from your daughter’s preschool teacher. Your adorable toddler squealed, “Oh, Shit” in her sweet innocent voice when she dropped her crayon. Or this: You dutifully compost your organic, sustainably-raised, heirloom tomato scraps. While your mother-in-law doesn’t help clean up after Thanksgiving dinner, she does get inspired by your composting ways and soon enough her entire West Palm Beach Mahjongg club has miniature, garbage-can replica compost-canisters on their Carrera marble countertops.
 
How about this: Carbon offsetting is all the rage in the environmental movement. Spew toxic emissions into the atmosphere? No worries. Offset it by making a contribution to green energy and the world is in balance again. Last week, a SKINNY team member was in line at Whole Foods, waiting to pay for her aforementioned organic, sustainably-raised, heirloom tomato, when the guy in front of her started acting like a jerk to the cashier. When our SKINNY gal got to the register, the cashier asked the usual: “Credit or donation for your bags?” Our SKINNY mate always takes the pennies as credit. (She’s not cheap; she just doesn’t want Whole Paycheck taking credit for her donation.) This time, though, she opted for donation. Turning to the cashier, she said, “It’s my carbon offset to compensate for jerk-dude’s rudeness.” This made Team SKINNY wonder: Is Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah the Jewish equivalent of carbon offsetting? Can we offset an Averah with a Mitzvah
Tell us what you think! 

PARSHA HASHAVUAH

GELND | BSVBD

1st Book 
Genesis  | Bereisheit (In the Beginning)
2nd Book 
Exodus | Shemot (The Names)
3rd Book 
Leviticus | Vayikra (And God called)
4th Book 
Numbers | Bamidbar (In the desert)
5th Book 
Deuteronomy | Devarim (The Words)


Weekly Torah Reading:
PARSHA VAYEIRA
GENESIS: 18:1-22:24


The SKINNY Tip: Chapter, Colon, Verse, which means 18:1-22:24 is chapter 18 verse 1 to chapter 22 verse 24.

SKINNY RECAP


Garden of Eden: God is Bob the Builder and turns on the lights!
 
Rise & Shine: The Lord said to Noah, “There's gonna be a floody, floody.” Lord said to Noah, “There's gonna be a floody, floody. Get those children out of the muddy, muddy! Children of the Lord.”
 
The Jewish Start-Up Nation: Abraham gets common stock to be the father of a great nation and seals the deal without circumspection – er, we mean with circumcision.

VAYEIRA


This week’s Torah portion, Vayeira (Vie-ay-rah), has more plot twists than an episode of Breaking Bad. We at Team SKINNY are containing our ADD-temptations and going OCD on one aspect of Vayeira. (We're trying to stay SKINNY after all… Don’t fret, gluttonous readers. You’ll remember from the Simchat Torah SKINNY that we read the Torah over and over again annually. We’ll cover every juicy Vayeira detail in future SKINNIES.)
 
If there was a David Letterman-inspired Top 10 list of medieval Jewish commentators, Rashi (Raw-she) would be #1. He lived in France more than 4,000 years ago and authored the most comprehensive, highly-regarded commentaries on Jewish texts. His initials, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, got him the nickname Rashi, and it stuck.
 
Rashi opines on the opening scene of Vayeira. It’s been three days since the great foreskin clip when Abraham circumcised himself and everyone else with boy body parts as a sign of their covenant with the Big Guy. (Remember the kid from the Pay it Forward movie? He did good deeds for three people. Coincidence? We don’t think so.) On the third day post snip, God comes to check on Abraham’s health. This very well might be the universe’s first sick call and is the basis for bikkur (bee-coor – like Coors beer without the “s”) cholim (choe – big scratch followed by a bossy “e” – leem), which means: You Gotta Visit People When They’re Sick! It’s both a commandment and a good deed all wrapped up into one. Rashi says God was doing the Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah thing when he visited Abraham. We hope God thought to bring some (vegan) chicken soup.
 
Vayeira and Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah teach us that doing a good deed isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s a hassle or costly or time-sucking, or all three at once. But doing a mitzvah shouldn’t be thought of as a sacrifice or the price you gotta pay – meaning, we don’t PAY it Forward. Rather, doing-good and good-doing are opportunities for us to elevate our lives. When we help others and when we help ourselves, we’re reaching the pinnacle of human achievement. We’re representing the highest levels of what it means to be ALIVE. In doing so, we’re actually becoming like God. So, when your friend texts: “OMG!” You can reply: “Yes, May I help you?” We at Team SKINNY like that. 


 

TEAM SKINNY.