be a menschWelcome back! I hope everyone had a wonderful, restful summer with opportunities to enjoy special moments with your families and the warm weather. As we settle back into routine, our children will surely be asked at some point to reflect on what they did over the summer and what they hope and wish for themselves to learn and improve upon in the coming school year.

A couple of moments that stand out for me this summer are sitting outside on the back balcony one evening with my youngest daughter and colouring with her in her colouring book, and the one Shabbat my youngest daughter and I were alone the entire day. We played endless games of Uno and snuggled in my bed as I read to her.

It was the little moments where I could cherish having my youngest alone while the older two were away at camp that made my summer special.

As we introduced to the children in our opening day assembly, this year at Akiva School we are going to work on the little things we can do every day to help each other feel special and in turn feel good about ourselves. Every person in this world has an invisible bucket and we feel good when our buckets are full. Each person can help fill someone else’s bucket with kind words and gestures, smiles and helpful actions. And we fill our own buckets when we feel good about filling someone else’s.

We are going to try and all be bucket fillers.

This week’s parasha, Eikev, begins with the verse:
And it will be because of your listening to these ordinances, and your observing and performing them; then the Lord your God, will safeguard for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers.

The Hebrew text uses the word eikev in the first phrase, meaning because of or as a consequence of – an intriguing choice since the word if would have been much simpler or more clear: If you follow God’s commandments, He will protect His people and fulfill His end of the contract He established with Israel’s forefathers. Why eikev?

Rashi explains that eikev contains the same letters as the Hebrew word for heel – akev – and the use of this particular word teaches us that we will reap all the divine rewards when we pay attention to those little commandments that one usually “tramples with his heels” – commandments one may feel are light and therefore not worthy of significant reward, and ones perhaps we do not take seriously enough.
For example, only a small percentage of people ever transgress the commandment “You shall not kill.” Imagine what our world would be like if we took as seriously the commandment “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

As we explained to the children, another word for a bucket filler is a mensch. Here is a link to the video of some of our staff with ideas about who they think is someone with the qualities of a mensch:

Get your Mensch on.. from Akiva School on Vimeo.

We’d love if you – our greater Akiva community – would join us in this bucket filling journey and reinforce the idea of all the little things we can do to make another person feel good.

And don’t forget to #getyourmenschon!

Shabbat Shalom.